1.    01 Nov 2015 #1
    Join Date : Oct 2015
    Posts : 8
    windows 7 64 bit pro

    will free win 7 --> 10 update work if chose a VM instead of native?


    My workstation currently has win 7 64 bit pro installed on it. It has been a surprisingly good OS, a real surprise from M$.

    I have so far avoided Microsoft's free 7 --> 10 update offer. For example, till now, it seemed like beta quality software. More concerning is all the privacy violations builtin by default (and concern that they are impossible to fully deactivate), as well as not being able to control updates.

    Today, however, I had a hardware issue. The technical support person ultimately concluded that a clean install of the OS might be the only resolution. He also said that one of my issues (a seemingly failure to install an Intel driver) would be much easier to diagnose on win 8 or later, as M$ added a tool that can diagnose installation issues which win 7 lacks.

    So, I am considering win 10. But I would love to install win 10 in a virtual machine first to do my own QA with it.

    In fact, I may want to even continue using it in a VM forever, as VM's are portable (e.g. I would love to have a single VM that I can copy from machine to machine, like my workstation to my laptop; ah, to never have to configure more than one windows instance...).

    I am confused, however, about whether or not the free win 7 --> 10 update offer from M$ will work if I want to install win 10 in a virtual machine instead of directly on my native hardware. Does anyone know?

    The links that I found in my web research about clean installing win 10, like this, are usually only concerned with native installs. My understanding is that you first must do a win 7 --> 10 update, then M$ will analyze your hardware and somehow identify it on their servers no more product activation key), then they will let you build an ISO (use this webpage) which will finally let you do a clean install.

    But can that clean install ISO be used to install into a virtual machine? Well, maybe the initial install into the VM may work, but will you be able to activate win 10 running inside a VM instead of native?

    I am concerned because there is no product activation code. The new hardware fingerprint seems like it will fail if win 10 is run inside a VM, since the VM abstracts away the underlying hardware. Another way to see this is that I want to copy the VM file and rerun it inside other physical machines, which will have different hardware fingerprints.

    I found some links (e.g. this, this, and this) that seem partially relevant, but did not address my precise concerns, so I would really love to hear the definitive answer.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  2.    01 Nov 2015 #2
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Posts : 3,788
    10 Pro

    Yes the free upgrade works fine on VM. It is exactly the same as upgrading a real machine. You must have a fully licensed installation on your VM and then you can either upgrade it or generate the GenuineTicket.xml and clean install as described here.

    From insider build 10565 you can clean install Windows 10 and enter your Windows 7 key during installation and it will activate direct. You can then install any other build on that VM. This functionality is to be in the RTM upgrade th2 which is rumored be available early this month Making it Easier to Upgrade to Windows 10 - Windows 10 Forums. Note that the results of this method are the same as upgrading. Your activation is via digital entitlement and the key stored is the generic Windows 10 key not the Windows 7 key you entered (I tested it on Hyper-V VM).

    When you upgrade to 10 your hardware ID that is stored is that of the virtual machine not your physical machine. This means you can then clean install on the same virtual machine and it will be activated. What you can't do it create a new VM and expect it to work as the hardware ID is based in part on the BIOS ID which is held in xml files within the individual VM directories. You can reinstall on a new (virtual) disk and retain activation but a new VM will have a different HWID and not activate.

    You can run the same VM on different hardware and if you use VMware or VirtualBox you can run the machine on OSX or Linux hosts also and retain activation. For example I have one Windows VirtualBox VM on a SD card which I move between OSX and Windows.

    To copy and use between different hosts it depends which hypervisor you use. Assuming you are using Hyper-V then export is easiest - it will put all the files it needs together in one folder. When you import it take the option to keep the same ID (either restore or register in place but not copy) and you'll not have any problems with activation. If you are using VirtualBox just copy the whole folder and if you are using VMWare copy the whole folder and say "I moved it" not "I copied it" when you start up the copy.

    All hypervisors are pretty similar but bear in mind that you are tied to that one once you have activated on it (you are actually tied to that machine on that hypervisor). Hyper-V only works on Windows Pro hosts, VMWare you have to pay for on OSX hosts (but not on Windows or Linux), VirtualBox is always free. Everyone has their pet favorite but they are all pretty similar (I use all of them). You just need to think where you are likely to want to run your VM.

    I have moved Windows 10 from VirtualBox to Hyper-V (it is easy, if you use .vhd as the virtul disk type you can just attach it to a Hyper-V VM and it boots). However it is seen as a new machine and needs re-activation. This is not a problem with a Windows 10 retail key but with a digital entitlement from an upgrade it doesn't work. You have to phone MS to get it activated or do the upgrade again (same process as changing your logic-board on a "real" computer).
    Last edited by lx07; 01 Nov 2015 at 03:48.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  3.    01 Nov 2015 #3
    Join Date : Oct 2015
    Posts : 8
    windows 7 64 bit pro
    Thread Starter

    halasz: that was a most excellent answer, I really appreciate it.

    I have a several followup questions that I'll ask in a series of responses (only have time right now to ask a few of them).


    Quote Originally Posted by halasz View Post
    From insider build 10565 you can clean install Windows 10 and enter your Windows 7 key during installation and it will activate direct. You can then install any other build on that VM.
    Can you use your win 7 key multiple times for this, or just once?

    In particular, suppose that I download some win 10 build and clean install it into a new VM that I am going to use strictly for testing. If I use my Win 7 key to activate that particular VM, am I barred from using my Win 7 key again, or can I still use it for multiple new win 10 VMs?


    Quote Originally Posted by halasz View Post
    This functionality is to be in the RTM upgrade th2 which is rumored be available early this month
    I did not know what you meant by the above when I first read it. For anyone else reading this who is similarly puzzled, surely he is referring to the “Threshold 2” (TH2) release, also known as the Windows 10 Fall Update.


    Quote Originally Posted by halasz View Post
    When you upgrade to 10 your hardware ID that is stored is that of the virtual machine not your physical machine. This means you can then clean install on the same virtual machine and it will be activated. What you can't do it create a new VM and expect it to work as the hardware ID is based in part on the BIOS ID which is held in xml files within the individual VM directories. You can reinstall on a new (virtual) disk and retain activation but a new VM will have a different HWID and not activate.
    Right now, my virtualization experiments have been confined to running VirtualBox on top of a win 7 host OS. (I have so far played with a variety of Linux guest OSes, before settling for now on Xubuntu.)

    If you happen to be familiar with VirtualBox, do you know exactly where it stores the "BIOS ID which is held in xml files within the individual VM directories" that you mention?

    I looked in my currently active VM directory, and there are only 3 files there plus a Logs subdirectory. One of the files is a .vdi virtual disk file. The other 2 files have .vbox and .vbox-prev extensions; those 2 files currently have almost the same contents (but for a single date line). Inside the .vbox file is but one explicit reference to the BIOS:
    Code:
          <BIOS>
            <ACPI enabled="true"/>
            <IOAPIC enabled="true"/>
            <Logo fadeIn="true" fadeOut="true" displayTime="0"/>
            <BootMenu mode="MessageAndMenu"/>
            <TimeOffset value="0"/>
            <PXEDebug enabled="false"/>
          </BIOS>
    The above does not seem to me to have any hardware identifying info in it. Nor does the rest of that file.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  4.    01 Nov 2015 #4
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Posts : 3,788
    10 Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by up2trix View Post
    Can you use your win 7 key multiple times for this, or just once?

    In particular, suppose that I download some win 10 build and clean install it into a new VM that I am going to use strictly for testing. If I use my Win 7 key to activate that particular VM, am I barred from using my Win 7 key again, or can I still use it for multiple new win 10 VMs?
    Once at a time. One VM counts as one computer so needs one license. Installing on a new VM is the same as installing on new real hardware with the same restrictions. Retail licenses you can move fairly easily (but may need phone activation), OEM keys are tied forever (theoretically) to one set of hardware.

    If you are just testing in a separate VM you needn't activate it at all or you could use the Enterprise Evaluation which gives you up to 90 days trial (which can be extended, or rearmed, 3 times by a further 90 days)

    Quote Originally Posted by up2trix View Post
    If you happen to be familiar with VirtualBox, do you know exactly where it stores the "BIOS ID which is held in xml files within the individual VM directories" that you mention?
    I was a big vague there. In virtualbox it is in <VM name>.vbox xml style file, right at the top actually called MachineUUID:

    Code:
    <?xml version="1.0"?>
    <!--
    ** DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE.
    ** If you make changes to this file while any VirtualBox related application
    ** is running, your changes will be overwritten later, without taking effect.
    ** Use VBoxManage or the VirtualBox Manager GUI to make changes.
    -->
    <VirtualBox xmlns="http://www.innotek.de/VirtualBox-settings" version="1.15-windows">
      <Machine uuid="{xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx}" name="Windows" OSType="Windows10_64" snapshotFolder="Snapshots" lastStateChange="2015-09-02T17:04:02Z">
        <MediaRegistry>
          <HardDisks>
    In VMWare it is in a (text not xml) file called <VM Name>.vmx. The machine UUID is based on one or both of these (I'm not sure).
    Code:
    uuid.bios = "xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx-xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx"
    uuid.location = "xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx-xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx"
    In Hyper-V it is stored in in a more obscure manner

    In all cases it is easier to just move/copy the whole directories (in the case of hyper-v export and import).

    A couple of things worth noting are no hypervisor will allow you to have duplicate machines with the same UUID. While you could probably run the same machine on two separate hosts at the same time this would be in violation of EULA and your key might get blocked.

    The other thing is no-one knows what data identifies the computer on the MS activation servers. In addition to these machine UUIDs there is also your cpu, nic, your graphics card and who knows what else or what exactly triggers reactivation. All I can say is I've only had to reactivate moving from one hypervisor to another - never on the same VM even on different hosts.

    Conversely I've lost activation twice on my "real" PC (upgraded from 7) and had to phone for reactivation after making no hardware changes at all - only installing/reinstalling.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  5.    01 Nov 2015 #5
    Join Date : Oct 2015
    Posts : 8
    windows 7 64 bit pro
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by halasz View Post
    Once at a time. One VM counts as one computer so needs one license. Installing on a new VM is the same as installing on new real hardware with the same restrictions. Retail licenses you can move fairly easily (but may need phone activation), OEM keys are tied forever (theoretically) to one set of hardware.
    Once at a time is not a particularly bad restriction for me.

    But my current win 7 install is a Dell OEM install.

    Does that mean that if I try to create a win 10 clean install USB when the “Threshold 2” (TH2) / Windows 10 Fall Update comes out, that M$ will only activate a win 10 install on my Dell hardware, and not inside a VM? That would be very bad, if so. I am OK if I have to do a phone activation.


    Thanks for the the Enterprise Evaluation tip.


    Quote Originally Posted by halasz View Post
    I was a big vague there. In virtualbox it is in <VM name>.vbox xml style file, right at the top actually called MachineUUID
    I saw that when I was skimming my .vbox file, but I figured that it was something that VirtualBox generated and used internally, while M$ would have their own algorithm. Good to know that M$ uses it, which is surely why people have instructions like this and this...
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  6.    01 Nov 2015 #6
    Join Date : Oct 2015
    Posts : 8
    windows 7 64 bit pro
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by halasz View Post
    All hypervisors are pretty similar but bear in mind that you are tied to that one once you have activated on it (you are actually tied to that machine on that hypervisor).
    At this point, I think that I now understand the above sentence in your original reply.


    Quote Originally Posted by halasz View Post
    All hypervisors are pretty similar but bear in mind that you are tied to that one once you have activated on it... Everyone has their pet favorite but they are all pretty similar (I use all of them). You just need to think where you are likely to want to run your VM.
    I have so far been using just VirtualBox for my experiments, and it has worked well for that purpose. At work, we use VmWare Player. I like VirtualBox's GUI and features better than Player's, but check out this thread for a more informed discussion.

    But you bring up a good point: I will need to decide on a real virtualization layer at some point.

    Hyper-V's limitation to a Windows host makes it a non-starter for me. That leaves only VMWare (I would use ESXi), KVM, and Xen. Do you have any thoughts and experiences to share on which of those 3 is best? VMWare seems to be top in many ways (e.g. in performance), bit also totally focused on the enterprise/cloud market, with zero interest for desktop virtualization like what I want to do. Xen has had tons of recent security holes.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  7.    02 Nov 2015 #7
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Posts : 3,788
    10 Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by up2trix View Post
    I have so far been using just VirtualBox for my experiments, and it has worked well for that purpose. At work, we use VmWare Player. I like VirtualBox's GUI and features better than Player's, but check out this thread for a more informed discussion.

    But you bring up a good point: I will need to decide on a real virtualization layer at some point.

    Hyper-V's limitation to a Windows host makes it a non-starter for me. That leaves only VMWare (I would use ESXi), KVM, and Xen. Do you have any thoughts and experiences to share on which of those 3 is best? VMWare seems to be top in many ways (e.g. in performance), bit also totally focused on the enterprise/cloud market, with zero interest for desktop virtualization like what I want to do. Xen has had tons of recent security holes.
    I don't have any experience with those. There was a time when I only had one Windows license (if you use it for your host you can't use it for your guest as well). I tried using Hyper-V server (which is free) so I could use my license in the VM. This turned out to be a terrible decision as Hyper-V Server is complex (doesn't have a gui), limited (doesn't support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or other hardware on my laptop I wanted to use) and impractical. It was just the wrong software as really it is designed for servers. I did enjoy playing though and learned a lot. I really don't know - perhaps EXSi etc would be the same.

    For me on Windows hosts Hyper-V is much the best - it allows dynamic memory allocation, auto suspend and resume of guests etc. VMWare I don't really like as you can't run headless VMs easily, and the free version doesn't allow dynamic memory allocation.. VBox I like as it is what I used first and it is simple and my main gripe with it (USB3) is now fixed.

    The trouble asking which is best is you'll never get an answer - it would be like asking "What is the best anti-virus"? All you get is personal prejudice and anecdotes. If one was clearly better everyone would use it (you'd like to think). As it is I don't much use VMWare for 2 reasons. You have to pay for it, at least for the features I'd want, (and why should I if there are free alternatives) and secondly the UI looks childish to me for some reason and that bugs me in an irrational way.

    Not particularly good reasons but after sleeping on it the best I could come up with
      My ComputerSystem Spec

 


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