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I plan on buying Windows 7 Ultimate Edition to run on an old Pentium 4. I also want to run Windows 7 virtual machines inside Windows 7. My question is two fold:

  • Do I need a license for each Virtual Machine?
  • Does the answer change if I use a third party virtualization platform (e.g. VirtualBox, VMWare, QEMU, etc) as opposed to VirtualPC?
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The answer you accepted below is incorrect; see my comment regarding the requirement of Software Assurance / volume licensing. –  cliff.meyers Jan 15 '10 at 5:33
    
Sorry I should of mentioned, i already knew for the enterprise and ultimate edditions, but not the home editions or even pro since they were not even mentioned in an MS article I found somwhere. –  Matt P Apr 21 '11 at 0:35
    
hmm lol, and just to proove why I need this a demo project messed up my system by using a CLSID that conflicted with the CCC extension...although not the normal short of issue, the chance of those things actually conficlting is supposed to be near impossible... goes to delete all references from registry and reinstall CCC –  Matt P Apr 21 '11 at 0:40
    
See also: FAQ for Windows 7 licensing –  nhinkle Jul 4 '11 at 6:43
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7 Answers

Check out my SuperUser Blog post on transferring a Windows licence to another machine, the same rules apply.

Basically the following two sections of your licence are relevant:

INSTALLATION AND USE RIGHTS.

One Copy per Computer. The software license is permanently assigned to the computer with which the software is distributed. That computer is the “licensed computer.”

and

ADDITIONAL LICENSING REQUIREMENTS AND/OR USE RIGHTS.

Use with Virtualization Technologies. Instead of using the software directly on the licensed computer, you may install and use the software within only one virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system on the licensed computer.

Effectively you can use the copy of Windows on the host or the guest machine, but not both at the same time, otherwise both copies need to be individually licenced.

In the blog post I have linked to a Microsoft site where you can find licences for all Microsoft software so you should be able to find out your rights.

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Found this relating to Windows Vista VM's

You may run on the licensed device at any one time one copy, or instance, of the software directly on the hardware (the physical operating system environment) and up to four instances of the software in virtual machines. You may create and store an unlimited number of copies (for example, copies in VMs) for use on any licensed device.

The actual EULA will be posted here


Found a question on serverfault that might help :

Can a Windows 7 Ultimate product key be used for virtual machines as well?

links to a post that indicates you can run 4 copies per machine.

Virtual OS Rights - Use up to four instances of Windows in virtual OS environments for each license that has active Software Assurance coverage.

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Lee, I am marking yours as trhe accepted answer. I have also flagged my own question to be closed as a duplicate. –  Justin Dearing Aug 19 '09 at 18:06
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These links do not apply to OEM or Retail licenses, only Software Assurance / volume licensing customers. –  cliff.meyers Jan 15 '10 at 5:30
    
Cliff, Thanks I unmarked it. –  Justin Dearing Jan 15 '10 at 15:12
    
-1, as cliff said - only applies to Software Assurance –  orip Apr 9 '10 at 12:17
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OEM Home Premium Win7 license states: "Instead of using the software directly on the licensed computer, you may install and use the software within only one virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system on the licensed computer." –  Lloeki Oct 2 '11 at 13:58
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Sorry for the bad news but...

Yes, for each Windows 7 instance you run inside a VM, you'll need a license.

If you are running Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate, you get one licensed Windows XP for free with XP mode. Any other OS needs to be licensed indivudually, whether this runs on hardware or in a VM is not relevant.

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"Virtual OS Rights - Use up to four instances of Windows in virtual OS environments for each license that has active Software Assurance (SA) coverage."

Yes, but this is an important note:

"[you may] remotely access up to four instances of the software running in virtual OSes (only one instance per virtual OS) on your servers (e.g., on up to four different servers in your datacenter) from the licensed device. "

It is important to note that this is "from the licensed device." It seems that Microsoft lets you run up to 4 VM instances under Software Assurance, but the intention is for those VMs to be used by a single device. See page 121, section 9a-b of this document:

"Microsoft Licensing Product Use Rights"

http://www.microsoftvolumelicensing.com/userights/Downloader.aspx?DocumentId=3612

Thus, you cannot purchase a bunch of Windows 7 Pro/Enterprise licenses with SA, and make a Remote-Desktop VM farm for 1/4th the cost (that is, if I understand correctly. Please correct me if I am wrong!)

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The 'legal' answer to this is that you need a license for each installation that is running. So if you have a win7 host and 2 win7 guests but ONLY run one guest at a time, you would only need 2 licenses and your guests could share one.

Otherwise, yes, you'll need a license for each to be legal.

As far as functionality, as long as you don't mind going though the licensing hassles you should be able to install using only one license. However, I've only ever done it with 3rd party virtualization not the virtualPC.

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Based on the Windows 7 Ultimate license terms (found them through this form on Microsoft's site):

d. Use with Virtualization Technologies. Instead of using the software directly on the licensed computer, you may install and use the software within only one virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system on the licensed computer.

I read that as "you must have one paid license for each VM instance as well".

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According to this thread you will need a license for each VM instance.

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Could you expand of this? If you can only share a link, please post it in the comments. –  MaxMackie Apr 21 '11 at 11:50
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protected by nhinkle Jun 8 '11 at 20:13

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