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I come from a Linux background and what I am used to doing with my development projects is setting up a template PC on a virtual machine so one of my projects won't effect the other.

Linux of course allows you to install as many copies of whatever software you use as needed. Microsoft on the other hand requires that you pay them a licensing fee for every computer that you have a single installation installed on.

I am rather annoyed by this, and it is precisely what keeps me from doing development using their development stack (which I'd really like to learn by the way, but they are making it difficult for me to do so). While I understand that for learning purposes the free versions of their development software are usually enough, the way they handle the OS licensing is what is keeping me from learning their stack.

Even though I legally own a copy of Windows 7, I can't install another copy of it on my Virtual Machine without the OS shutting down after 60 days. To do so I either have to get an illegal copy (which I don't want to do) or I have to buy another copy of Windows 7, which isn't practical either since I don't want my projects interfering with one another (which is the whole reason I'm using a virtual machine in the first place! To offer a plain vanilla environment to ensure that nothing non-standard is interfering with the way I am writing the documentation to a project)

Seeing as neither of these options is ideal, is there some other way that I can do this?

(That isn't illegal, and doesn't require me to buy another license for each instance of a product that I install on a virtual machine)

P.S. I'm not sure if this is a Stack Overflow question or a Super User question, so feel free to move it if I'm asking this at the wrong site.


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This is a SU question. It would most likely be closed on SO quickly and migrated here. – Troggy Feb 5 '10 at 15:32
I think you can install a given SKU of Windows in both a host and a guest on the same hardware. I don't speak for Microsoft, so you'll have to look it up. – Jay Bazuzi Feb 6 '10 at 3:06
@Jay, no, you can only use any given license EITHER as virtual or physical. And only the Pro or Ultimate versions, not "Home". – CarlF Feb 6 '10 at 4:15
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think you should take a look at MSDN subscriptions. All software is licensed for development purposes only. Each license entitles you, and only you, to use as many instances of each piece of software as you'd like.

This is an overview of what software is included at each price level as well as the retail prices.

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Awesome answer! Thanks! :-D – leeand00 Feb 5 '10 at 15:37
...Still kind of expensive, but it sure isn't $300 per install! – leeand00 Feb 5 '10 at 15:40
Thanks. I don't have enough status yet to comment on the other answer regarding Technet. Technet subscriptions are mot licensed for development, only evaluation purposes. This link shows the comparison. – PaulWaldman Feb 6 '10 at 3:58

Well, although you accepted awfully fast perhaps another option might be of interest as well.

Check out the MS Action Pack for the OS and Servers. Might be a little cheaper than MSDN?

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Okay I'll take a look at that too...and wait for more answers... – leeand00 Feb 5 '10 at 16:37

Another option:

TechNet. MSDN-like subscription access to many Microsoft products, with restricted licenses. Cheaper than MSDN, and you can find deal codes sometimes.

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TechNet is limited to evaluation of the software, not development use. – Andy Aug 17 '15 at 22:17

What I did in a similar situation was go totally virtual with Windows, and use Linux as my base OS. But I have used Linux for years and am comfortable with it, and I don't play games. It might not be the easiest solution for you.

One advantage: you can move the Windows 7 VM to another PC (say your laptop) and as far as Windows knows, nothing has changed. This lets you legally do development on two or more PCs with the same Windows license.

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No it doesn't. Each copy of the OS must be licensed, you don't get two for one. – Andy Aug 17 '15 at 22:18

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