I just bought a new PC, I'd like to wipe windows and install Ubunutu, but I'd like to be able to run windows in virtual box. Rather than have to buy a totally new window's licence, is it possible to use the license that came with my computer to install window's on a virtual machine.

Or is it possible to leave the windows partition and boot that from VirtualBox?

As you can tell, I'm a Virtual Box noob. I know the dual boot option, but I'd like to be able to run windows within Ubuntu.

  • IANAL, but yes, it is technically possible to transfer an OEM licence to another PC. – kinokijuf Feb 4 '13 at 18:31
  • @kinokijuf, this has nothing to do with "technically", the question is if the legal language in the licence (plus any applicable laws in your area) allow you to do so. IANAL either, and I don't play one on SE either. – vonbrand Feb 5 '13 at 2:48

I've stumbled across this question and was curious about Windows 7 Professional (my case).

I think EULA (to be found here) answers this conclusively. Below see relevant parts (most notably 3/d).


    b. License Model. The software is licensed on a per copy per computer basis. A computer is a
    physical hardware system with an internal storage device capable of running the software. A
    hardware partition or blade is considered to be a separate computer.


    a. 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.”


    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. When used in a virtualized environment, content
    protected by digital rights management technology, BitLocker or any full volume disk drive
    encryption technology may not be as secure as protected content not in a virtualized
    environment. You should comply with all domestic and international laws that apply to such
    protected content.

I am not a lawyer, but as long as you don't activate multiple copies of Windows (whether physical or virtual) using the same key, it should be fine.

Check out the Windows 8 Pro OEM EULA for example:


Under Additional Terms / License Rights and Multi User Scenarios it states:


So you should be able to wipe Windows, reinstall inside a VM and activate using your key. Remember however that with Windows 8 PCs there is no COA sticker any more, and the key is embedded in the BIOS instead and automatically picked up by the installer.

  • This is wrong, you can not migrate a OEM license. The virtual PC is considered a separate computer even though it is a "virtual" computer running on the same hardware. – Scott Chamberlain Sep 19 '13 at 15:00
  • 1
    The license says otherwise Scott – Ramhound Sep 19 '13 at 15:33
  • No I agree with Scott, OEM licenses must stay with the hardware. – MDMoore313 Aug 6 '15 at 12:42
  • 1
    See this discussion: Several of us are in discussion with Microsoft to get a single opinion. A Microsoft licensing analyst has answered that, "Yes, a user can use his/her OEM SLP Windows as a VM as long as it is used only on the computer the OEM SLP software originally came with. " – David Fraser Aug 6 '15 at 19:51

NO, except in Germany, says this blog post. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/mssmallbiz/archive/2009/10/27/no-oem-microsoft-windows-licenses-cannot-be-transferred-to-another-pc.aspx

  • That's commenting on moving to a separate machine; the question of running in a virtual machine on the same physical machine is slightly different as other answers discuss – David Fraser Aug 6 '15 at 9:16
  • Microsoft considers VM to be separate machines that require retail licensing. microsoft.com/OEM/en/Pages/support-faq.aspx#fbid=LEA4-ha0Dgi – MDMoore313 Aug 6 '15 at 12:46
  • Sure, that's what's being debated on the other answers. But note that this answer isn't explicitly answering the question about moving to a virtual machine on the same physical hardware – David Fraser Aug 6 '15 at 19:47
  • Touche, indeed it does not. – MDMoore313 Aug 6 '15 at 20:06

I've done this before (in the United States). I installed using one of the Windows 7 Home Premium images here:

How can I reinstall Windows 7 if I lost my installation DVD?

Then I entered the key at the bottom of the computer whose copy of Windows 7 I had overwritten. I did have to go through Microsoft's phone activation system, but this was an automated process for me (i.e., I didn't talk to any actual person).

  • If the version of Windows he bought is OEM, then he cant transfer it to another PC. However, if the VM is running on the same machine, is it considered another PC? Dunno – Keltari Feb 5 '13 at 0:43
  • I reactivated the license in Virtualbox on another PC, actually. I'm not sure what "can't" means here (legally? technically?), but I'm saying I have done it on one occasion, and it seemed to work. – jjlin Feb 5 '13 at 1:22
  • It's possible even to activate multiple PCs with the same key as long as MS doesn't detect and blacklist it. Is it legal though? Obviously not. @Keltari is talking about the legality of it, not whether it is technically possible or not, which it very much is. – Karan Feb 5 '13 at 1:37
  • Okay, I wasn't even aware of this legality issue. – jjlin Feb 5 '13 at 2:37

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