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I figured out how to get a Fedora 11 VMware Workstation install to boot a physical SATA disk with Windows XP installed that was also being used to dual boot the same machine running Fedora.

However, when I try to log into that VMware session of Windows XP, I get a dialog box asking to activate Windows XP. If I try to activate using the original key, it fails. If I boot back into Windows XP from the bare hardware, everything is fine again; it doesn't ask for activation.

How can I make the virtual machine work? Will using a volume license key to activate the VMware session work? I have access to a VLK from work and this is for a work related purpose. Will a MSDN key work? Or will I have to reinstall from scratch first and then activate it twice? Does using the hardware profiles cause this situation?

Is the any reason that I can't just reactivate Windows XP because it is an OEM key from the original hardware installation?

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When installing a guest OS (within the VM), it's a brand new system. Hardware specs won't match the original system -- the guest OS sees virtualized hardware, not your computer's real hardware.

You're booting an already-installed physical copy of XP inside a VM, so that installation is seeing a completely different set of hardware than what it expects. This is why it's asking to reauthorize. Since this is the same installation as your boot installation, I would NOT attempt to reauthorize -- you may run into trouble when you try to boot that partition on the real hardware. For example, if you reauthorize with the VM hardware, you might need to reauthorize again when booting to the real hardware.

If you need the VM for work, you should get work to supply a key. They may have guest images already configured that will work, just copy to the local drive, point the VM at it and boot. Alternately, you may be able to image your Windows partition and use that with the VM. Use a separate key to authorize the VM (again, preferably one work paid for:).

(updated: misread the original question, revising answer to better match what was asked.)

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