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I backed up a number of laptops to virtual machines before they are to be re-purposed, in case I need the data at some later time. While the Physical to VM processes worked fine I am encountering issues on some of the VMs. When I boot them I get an error message saying I MUST activate windows in order to login. This is expected because the hardware changed (from physical hardware to virtualized hardware). I click the OK button and expect to be prompted with ways to activate, windows sits there for quite a while then tells me that "Windows has already been activated". I click OK at that message and get take back to the beginning where I am asked to activate Windows.

I have done some fairly intensive googling but haven't been able to find a real solution.

EDIT: The laptops with the issues are 2 Sony Vaios, I believe that they have the OEM version of the OS originally installed by the factory.

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I have tried changing the registry entry where the activation is stored, in order to hopefully make it ask me to specify the product key or something, but that doesn't seem to make a difference. – Daisetsu May 14 '10 at 20:31
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I believe that they have the OEM version of the OS originally installed by the factory.

OEM licenses of Windows are not transferable. You must run that copy of Windows on the computer it was supplied with.

Activation should not succeed. This is not a scenario Microsoft supports, nor is it legal.

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Like I said, I tried to invalidate the activation through modification of the registry so that I could input a VALID product key. I have a site license from Microsoft. – Daisetsu May 15 '10 at 0:10
Yes, that's because you have an OEM copy of the operating system. They are designed to be non-transferable. See here: "The steps in the article are effective only on Volume License media. If you try these steps on OEM media or on retail media, you will not change the product key ... That is, the channel (MSDN, retail, OEM, Volume License, and so on), the SKU (Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Home Edition, and so on), and the language (English, French, and so on) must match between the product key and the media." – May 15 '10 at 0:42
Is there any way to fix this at all? There must be some way to get around it, it's not like I don't have the lisences. – Daisetsu May 16 '10 at 17:16
You can't apply a VLK to an OEM installation, so you don't have the licenses. I would think you would have to log a case with PSS and have them assist you. – May 17 '10 at 4:19

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