I've recently left OSX for my development machine (I like Ubuntu better) but find I am missing out on Photoshop, so I created a Windows VM for using Photoshop, and it's working pretty well (I have a ton of RAM so I was able to allocate 8GB to that VM while it's running and it feels pretty good). I'm not a fan of developing on Windows BUT I do, on occasion, contribute to dotnet projects.

I'm using the VM, but have also considered an external install of windows (I only have a 256gb SSD, but I have an external SSD the same size I could use with USB 3).

There are advantages to both. The dual-boot would be more performant than a VM, but since I hate doing any sort of web development on Windows (nothing seems to work as smoothly or as quickly as it does with unix) I spend most of my time on Ubuntu and would have an easier time using a VM for most of my work.

Is there any way I can use a VM AND Dual Boot to the same Windows install, so that I wouldn't have two separate Windows Environments on one PC? Sometimes I'd like to just boot into windows but usually I like to use a VM.

1 Answer 1


Despite the technical hurdles (which are actually fairly trivial), using Windows as both a host and guest is not practical because of Microsoft's longstanding anti-piracy measure that ties a Windows activation to a specific set of hardware. In your case, every time you switched between using Windows as a VM and as a direct host, it would prompt you to activate Windows once again.

In essence, it's possible to set up, but the specific licensing of Windows prevents you from doing this.

See this related question: Why is it I can't use my Windows installation both as a host and a guest?

  • Would it help if I had two Windows activation codes? I have one that I had bought for when I was running windows on my Macbook and one for this machine which came with Windows before I installed Ubuntu. Dec 27, 2016 at 4:56
  • @ShaneLessard No, it would not help. You can only have one license/activation at a time per Windows installation.
    – oldmud0
    Dec 27, 2016 at 5:10
  • That's a shame. So there's really no solution to this? Bit of a bummer. I guess I could have two installations of Windows, one for VM and one for booting, but it seems terribly inconvenient. Dec 27, 2016 at 5:13
  • @ShaneLessard No, I must admit there is no true solution. My suggestion would be to just stick with the VM (and stay far away from Windows!).
    – oldmud0
    Dec 27, 2016 at 5:18

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