As subject matters go nothing gets as complicated as licensing. Here I will try to ease the tension to try to help you sleep at night.
OEM Licensing: As I work for Dell there are a couple things that I see at least a few times per week and that is licensing a virtual machine.
With Windows 2012 OEM or Windows 2012 R2 OEM license you get the ability to run 2 virtual machines on a virtualization platform. Typically this is done utilizing the OEM media that is shipped with the server.
The issue that customers run across is that when they install from OEM media within the virtual machine, the install goes just fine – never prompts for a product key. It’s not until they notice that the virtual machine has not activated with Microsoft. So when they try to activate they get a generic error message that to a mere mortal makes no sense.
Here is what is going on – the OEM media that shipped with your server is pre-keyed with Dell’s OEM media key. That key tells the server to check for the SLP bit on the motherboard. If that bit is set then no activation is necessary the server is automatically licensed. The problem comes in when done on a virtual machine that has no access to read the SLP bit on the motherboard, so tries to activate with Microsoft clearing house. Microsoft clearing house immediately denies activation because Dell has the key locked to keep customers from doing that. How do you fix this? It is actually really easy.
- Open an administrative command prompt in the virtual machine
- Type the following command: slmgr /upk <press enter>
This uninstalls the existing OEM product key from the virtual machine – Wait for the message to come back and say the product key was successfully uninstalled
- Type the following command: slmgr /ipk XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX <press enter>
Where the X’s are the product key from the COA sticker on the server
IMPORTANT: Include the dashes when you type in the product key
Wait for the message to come back and say the product was installed successfully.
- Type the following command: slmgr /ato <press enter>
This tells the VM to go to the clearinghouse and activate this copy of windows
Wait for the message to come back and say the copy of windows was successfully activated
Type the following command: slmgr /dlv <press enter>
This will bring up a screen that shows a lot of good information including
- The edition of Windows
- The channel of the OS – OEM, VL, Retail etc.
- The last 5 characters of the key that was used to activate
- Activation status
If you have dealt with KMS in the past these commands will be very familiar.
Hopefully that helps with activating virtual machines when using OEM media to do the install.
If you are downgrading the OS and have recieved a downgrade kit please read this posting.