OEM key able to be used on VM?

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  1. Posts : 99
    Windows 10
       #1

    OEM key able to be used on VM?


    Accidentally used my OEM key on my laptop on my virtual machine hosted on the same laptop. For some reason it accepted my OEM key and activated the virtual machine as well. I've uninstalled/deactivated the virtual machine like it says here but for some reason it keeps the "activated with digital license" thing.

    Are OEM keys supposed to be able to be activated in virtual machines? Does it just look at the virtual machine hardware and think it's the same as my host laptop? I'm not sure if I've screwed something up or not, since it doesn't seem like you're able to remove the digital license, even by reinstalling windows. I have already re-entered the product key on my host laptop, though I'm not sure if that will do much.

    slmgr /dli says the correct oem key for my host laptop but says "Partial Product Key 3V66T" for the VM.
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  2. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 16,588
    Windows 11 Pro
       #2

    That's the way it works with Windows 10 & 11 digital licenses. The product key is only used to obtain the digital license. Once the digital license is created and stored on Microsoft Activation Servers, the original product key used to obtain that digital license is worthless for that same computer or VM.

    Do not delete the VM. Keep the VM itself as it will now always have that digital license for that edition of Windows 10 & 11. You can delete and re-attach new virtual disks to it at will and that won't affect the digital license.
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  3. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 22,016
    10 Home x64 (21H2) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #3

    yesir360 said:
    Are OEM keys supposed to be able to be activated in virtual machines? Does it just look at the virtual machine hardware and think it's the same as my host laptop?

    Every machine, whether virtual or physical, has its own unique hardware ID. It is this that is used on Microsoft's activation servers to link a digital licence to a particular machine. The hard drive plays no part in this hardware ID so you are free to change that for another one.

    As NavyLCDR says, once you have a digital licence for a VM you should never delete the VM. I routinely re-use my licensed VMs for a new clean install, changing the virtual drive for a new empty one.
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  4. Posts : 99
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #4

    Bree said:
    Every machine, whether virtual or physical, has its own unique hardware ID. It is this that is used on Microsoft's activation servers to link a digital licence to a particular machine. The hard drive plays no part in this hardware ID so you are free to change that for another one.

    As NavyLCDR says, once you have a digital licence for a VM you should never delete the VM. I routinely re-use my licensed VMs for a new clean install, changing the virtual drive for a new empty one.
    I'm more concerned about whether this will affect my host laptop, I'm fine with losing the license on my VM. I used the OEM product key that came with laptop that had preinstalled Windows 10 on it. However, isn't the OEM product key meant to be a one time use that only works on the motherboard it's attached to? I wouldn't want this to deactivate my host laptop's Windows 10.
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  5. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 22,016
    10 Home x64 (21H2) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #5

    yesir360 said:
    I'm more concerned about whether this will affect my host laptop. I used the OEM product key that came with laptop that had preinstalled Windows 10 on it. However, isn't the OEM product key meant to be a one time use that only works on the motherboard it's attached to?

    It will have no effect. Once a key has been used to obtain a digital licence the activation severs only keep the hardware ID of the machine. The actual key used to get that digital licence is not recorded or linked to the digital licence. The fact that the key has been used is recorded elsewhere, but that only means you shouldn't be able to use that key to activate another machine. Your host machine already has its own digital licence and it is that which activates it.
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  6. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 16,588
    Windows 11 Pro
       #6

    yesir360 said:
    I'm more concerned about whether this will affect my host laptop, I'm fine with losing the license on my VM. I used the OEM product key that came with laptop that had preinstalled Windows 10 on it. However, isn't the OEM product key meant to be a one time use that only works on the motherboard it's attached to? I wouldn't want this to deactivate my host laptop's Windows 10.
    Your host laptop already has a permanent digital license for Windows 10 for it. That's what it is activated with now, not a product key. Go to Settings, Updates and Security, and the Activation page, you will see there it says activated with a digital license.
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  7. Posts : 99
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #7

    Bree said:
    It will have no effect. Once a key has been used to obtain a digital licence the activation severs only keep the hardware ID of the machine. The actual key used to get that digital licence is not recorded or linked to the digital licence. The fact that the key has been used is recorded elsewhere, but that only means you shouldn't be able to use that key to activate another machine. Your host machine already has its own digital licence and it is that which activates it.
    So let me get this straight. What is happening is:
    1. The product key is entered.
    2. Microsoft checks with it's servers that it's valid
    3. It's valid, Microsoft adds an entry for hardware id ABC with permanent digital license

    Now the question is, does Microsoft change the product key to be invalid? Remember I have an OEM product key which shouldn't be able to activate other installations... Seems weird how it was able to activate a VM.
    And then the other question is if the product key isn't associated with the digital license/hwid, how is it that "uninstalling" a product key lets you reuse it on a different machine(for retail keys)?
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  8. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 16,588
    Windows 11 Pro
       #8

    yesir360 said:
    So let me get this straight. What is happening is:
    1. The product key is entered.
    2. Microsoft checks with it's servers that it's valid
    3. It's valid, Microsoft adds an entry for hardware id ABC with permanent digital license

    Now the question is, does Microsoft change the product key to be invalid? Remember I have an OEM product key which shouldn't be able to activate other installations... Seems weird how it was able to activate a VM.
    And then the other question is if the product key isn't associated with the digital license/hwid, how is it that "uninstalling" a product key lets you reuse it on a different machine(for retail keys)?
    Whether or not Microsoft blocks a product key is up to them. I know they will block any product key if it is used too many times within a certain timeframe. Some blocks are for online activation only, you can still use phone activation. Some blocks will reset. When I was beta testing back in Windows 7 days, I would have product keys get blocked that I would have to use phone activation for. Then if I didn't use that product key for several months, it would be unlocked again.

    Uninstalling a product key from a computer essentially does nothing in Windows 10 or 11. That is a holdover from Windows 7 and 8/8.1. Here's a neat little trick: activate a computer with an OEM product key. Run: slmgr /dlv. You will see it is activated via the OEM channel. Change the product key to the generic product key matching the edition of Windows 10 installed. Run: slmgr /dlv again. Now it is activated via the retail channel.

    Generic Product Keys to Install Windows 10 Editions
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  9. Posts : 99
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #9

    NavyLCDR said:
    Here's a neat little trick: activate a computer with an OEM product key. Run: slmgr /dlv. You will see it is activated via the OEM channel. Change the product key to the generic product key matching the edition of Windows 10 installed. Run: slmgr /dlv again. Now it is activated via the retail channel.

    Generic Product Keys to Install Windows 10 Editions
    Interesting... So product keys basically do nothing huh... I suppose they do track product key usage and then maybe block them sometime...

    On the other hand, could you have an OEM product key activate hundreds of digital licenses provided Microsoft doesn't block it? Even if it's "OEM product key"? (I'm assuming that in reality they will block after a bit just because it's "OEM")

    Edit: On a similar note, what does the command "wmic path SoftwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey" do? It doesn't seem to be cleared upon "slmgr /upk" or any other command, not even by another product key change...
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  10. Superfly's Avatar
    Posts : 3,417
       #10

    yesir360 said:
    Interesting... So product keys basically do nothing huh... I suppose they do track product key usage and then maybe block them sometime...

    On the other hand, could you have an OEM product key activate hundreds of digital licenses provided Microsoft doesn't block it? Even if it's "OEM product key"? (I'm assuming that in reality they will block after a bit just because it's "OEM")

    Edit: On a similar note, what does the command "wmic path SoftwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey" do? It doesn't seem to be cleared upon "slmgr /upk" or any other command, not even by another product key change...
    "wmic path SoftwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey" gets the key from the firmware. Read only, cannot be changed/removed etc

    "slmgr /upk" removes the key from the registry.
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