Assume one has a desktop at work and at home. It would be convenient to be able to "shuttle: the Windows 11 SSD between the two PCs for use at each site. This can obviously be done if it was data only.

How does Windows licensing work and does the licensing mechanism enable "shuttling"?

  • 2
    One method might be to convert Windows to a VM, and shuttle the VM.
    – harrymc
    Aug 30 at 16:08
  • "How does Windows licensing work and does the licensing mechanism enable "shuttling"?" - It doesn't.
    – Ramhound
    Aug 30 at 16:30
  • If you actually want to be able to do this simply & easily, with no restrictions or hardware limitations, you actually want two Macs. There is literally nothing to stop you doing this on Mac, except some initial security settings you need to flip in the startup firmware - other than that, it will "just work". No hardware restrictions so long as both Macs can run the same OS [so they're within maybe 7 years age difference], no licensing restrictions. (Don't want to add this to the answer, as it's presumably not a viable option)
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 31 at 7:03

1 Answer 1


Unless the hardware for both is identical, licensing will not be your biggest issue. Windows doesn't like to boot from an external disk at all [Win2Go was abandoned]. Each time you try to boot to dissimilar hardware, it will either fail, or have to reinstall a different set of drivers.

A retail Windows license can be used on more than one computer, though not simultaneously. Technically, you will meet this requirement. Practically, however, you will need to reset your license each & every time you move the boot drive, or just run it unlicensed [this is what I do with Windows VMs which are temporary & I don't care about the slight reduction in customisation options.]

Your call, but I'd consider it more trouble than it's worth.

  • Yes! Almost no practical way for this to work
    – John
    Aug 30 at 16:06

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