flipdoubt
Contributor
Contributor

Vista Bootcamp Re-Activation problem using Fusion 1.1.1

Jump to solution

As per my posts at http://communities.vmware.com/message/853633#853633, I activated my Vista Bootcamp partition natively and then activated my Vista Bootcamp VM using Fusion 1.1.1. Now I'm being prompted to re-activate whenever I switch back and forth. I thought these issues were fixed. Is that not true or is it no longer true with 1.1.1? How should I proceed?

0 Kudos
1 Solution

Accepted Solutions
jim_gill
Expert
Expert

Ah. The Compatibility folders are used for the XP activation; Vista uses a different scheme.

I have an answer for you now (and I'll add this to my list of questions to start with) but it isn't the one you want.

Microsoft licenses the OEM versions of Vista and XP against particular hardware only. In return, the OEMs (and eventually, the customer) plays less for that copy of Windows. On the downside, an OEM license is nontransferable -- you cannot move it to another computer, and you cannot reactivate it against different hardware. This is why you can't get another activation code from Microsoft as others have.

This one is something we cannot solve; it's both a legal issue and a technical one, and implemented on Microsoft's side of the fence.

I'm sorry, but there isn't any way you'll be able to stop the activation prompting. I don't know if Vista will eventually turn off the ability for it to run in a VM, but as far as I know you will be able to get it to activate in Boot Camp mode if it does stop working in Vista.

I'll look into updating the FAQ/notes about this, and thanks for your patience, and I wish I had a better answer for you.

View solution in original post

0 Kudos
18 Replies
flipdoubt
Contributor
Contributor

Could it have something to do with the fact that my Vista Bootcamp VM uses bridged networking where my native Bootcamp partition does not?

0 Kudos
jim_gill
Expert
Expert

Well, it's partially affected by that.

In XP (and Vista is likely very similar, but I haven't seen official docs), reactivation is triggered when a hardware change accumulates four "points" since activation. RAM size counts as one (under BootCamp, Vista sees all physical memory, under Fusion, we leave some for OS X) and the network adapter's MAC address counts as three, so that's enough in itself. other things that change under virtualization are the manufacturer ID of the hard disk, SCSI, and CD-ROM controllers.

I answered you on your other thread, but can you post the steps you took, in the order you took them, as best you can recall?

What you are seeing is definitely not normal behavior.

flipdoubt
Contributor
Contributor

Here is the order in which I did everything:

  1. Back in June 2007, I installed my Vista Ultimate partition via Bootcamp and activated it with the 2MB of RAM that came with my MacBook Pro.

  2. I installed Fusion 1.0 and VMWare Tools in my BCVM. I did not attempt to activate my VM because I was told activation would not work. As long as I booted back into Bootcamp every three days, Vista would reset the three day time limit.

  3. After Fusion 1.1 came out, I upgraded and attepted to activate my BCVM but was told I needed to call Microsoft. I did not call to activate and simply rebooted every three days.

  4. After Fusion 1.1.1 came out, I upgraded but did not attempt to activate my BCVM because I planned to upgrade my RAM.

  5. I swapped my 2GB of RAM for 4GB and decided to go all the way through the activation process.

    1. I uninstalled VMWare Tools.

    2. I reinstalled VMWare Tools and rebooted my VM.

    3. I activated my BCVM without needing to contact Microsoft. Hurray.

    4. I booted into my BC partition and was prompted to reactivate. I reactivated and did not have to call Microsoft.

    5. I booted back into my BCVM and was prompted to reactivate.

And that is where I sit, somewhat worried that I have used all my activations.

0 Kudos
flipdoubt
Contributor
Contributor

After the steps posted above, I tried activating my BCVM again and successfully activated online without having to call Microsoft. Then I booted straight into BC and had to activate again. Again, no need to call Microsoft.

When am I going to run out of luck/activations?

0 Kudos
flipdoubt
Contributor
Contributor

Is there any more info like an activation file or some kind of artifact I can provide that lets you/me/someone determine why I need to keep activating? Something that lets me know what hardware changes is it detecting in my case between today and yesterday.

0 Kudos
flipdoubt
Contributor
Contributor

I'm still seeing the same behavior where I activate in BC or BCVM, reboot into the other, am prompted to re-activate and do, reboot back into the original, and am promted to re-ativate again. Is there any way I can determine what causes the re-activation? To reduce the number of activation point differences, is there anyway I can hardcode the MAC address of my BCVM to be the same as the MAC address of my BC network card or the other way around?

Can anyone offer any suggestions?

0 Kudos
flipdoubt
Contributor
Contributor

Jim,

I'm considering using MAC MacUp to hardcode my BC MAC address to the one used by my BCVM. Do you think this is a good idea to stop the activation-re-activation cycle or, since I am never prompted to call Microsoft, do you think it is best to let it ride and continue to re-activate each time I switch?

0 Kudos
jim_gill
Expert
Expert

I've asked around, and we do not think it would be a good idea. There will be issues involved in the conflict between your physical network card (used by Fusion to pass networking on to the VM) and the virtual network card, if they fight over a MAC address. Networking may be completely unusable while the Boot Camp VM is running.

I am stumped on why your machine is having activation issues. Form everything I know about activation this should not be happening, yet it is.

Just to confirm:

1) You have VMware Tools installed. And you've reinstalled, just to be sure.

2) You activation issue is with Windows XP itself, not MS Office or an Adobe product (Fusion/Tools does not address those products).

3) You are not choosing a new memory size every time you run the VM.

Would you verify something for me? In the folder "c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\Compatibility", there should be two subfolders, "native" and "virtual". Each should contain two files: wpa.bak and wpa.dbl. These files are involved in getting the right activation data to Windows. This is a hidden folder; either you need to set the folder options to "Show hidden files" or go to that directory from a command prompt.

They should also be different. Go into the Compatibility folder from a command prompt window, and run the command "fc native\wpa.dbl virtual\wpa.dbl". This will compare the files. I'm not interested in the differences, just that fc doesn't report "FC: no differences encountered"

0 Kudos
flipdoubt
Contributor
Contributor

Hi Jim. Thanks for getting back in touch with me.

  1. Yes, the version of the VMWare Tools service installed on my machine is 7.6.2.387. Is this enough info? I can't ask the task tray for the version installed because I am booted into BC rather than the BCVM, so the utility isn't running.

  2. My activation issue is with the 32-bit version of Windows Vista Ultimate.

  3. No, I am not choosing a new memory size each time I reboot. I changed this number after I upgraded my memory, but I haven't changed since. Vista BC sees 3,127,052 KB. I will have to wait to reboot before reporting the amount of memory seen by my BCVM.

I went hunting for the Compatibility directory and, because I'm on Vista, found it at C:\ProgramData\VMware\Compatibility. Interestingly, I did not find the wpa.dbl files you asked for in either directory. Each directory contained files named opa12.dat and opa12.bak, but nothing else. I didn't find wpa.dbl in Windows\System32 either.

Hmmm, does it matter than mine is an OEM version of Vista? I have the OEM DVD.

0 Kudos
jim_gill
Expert
Expert

Ah. The Compatibility folders are used for the XP activation; Vista uses a different scheme.

I have an answer for you now (and I'll add this to my list of questions to start with) but it isn't the one you want.

Microsoft licenses the OEM versions of Vista and XP against particular hardware only. In return, the OEMs (and eventually, the customer) plays less for that copy of Windows. On the downside, an OEM license is nontransferable -- you cannot move it to another computer, and you cannot reactivate it against different hardware. This is why you can't get another activation code from Microsoft as others have.

This one is something we cannot solve; it's both a legal issue and a technical one, and implemented on Microsoft's side of the fence.

I'm sorry, but there isn't any way you'll be able to stop the activation prompting. I don't know if Vista will eventually turn off the ability for it to run in a VM, but as far as I know you will be able to get it to activate in Boot Camp mode if it does stop working in Vista.

I'll look into updating the FAQ/notes about this, and thanks for your patience, and I wish I had a better answer for you.

View solution in original post

0 Kudos
flipdoubt
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for the reply. So ... what if I activate using a non-OEM key or

re-install using a retail license of Vista? I would still like to know how

licensing both the native and the virtual hardware works in Vista.

0 Kudos
jim_gill
Expert
Expert

pragmatic answer: activation exists because Microsoft believed too many copies of their operating systems and certain application software were being copied and used with no revenue coming in to the company. Perhaps not so much in the US, where basically every Dell or HP computer comes with a copy of Windows "built-in", but in nations where the more common computer purchase was a bare box and a copied CD.

Balancing that, Microsoft has tried to make activation less onerous for their primary users. Retail copies of XP can be activated a few times -- less than ten, but more than once. This makes it a little easier for people who upgrade their hardware. After 120 days, the hardware database is cleared and the machine can be activated, if necessary, against whatever hardware now exists in the machine. Similarly, the MS activation phone support have provided keys for Vista (retail license!) owners who are trying to run Vista in a VM, and have recently changed their EULA to permit virtualization of Vista Home Basic/Premium. The Internet servers won't activate automatically, though, for Vista: most people have reported needing to call the number.

Fusion in no way breaks Microsoft's activation requirements: if MS requires you to activate the hardware, you must. What Fusion will do is keep track of the files and/or registry keys in which valid activation data is stored, and swap in the appropriate set as the machine boots. After you activate, VMware Tools will notice and store that data for restoration the next time you boot into that mode.

If you were to purchase a retail license for Vista you could reinstall and use it in both Boot Camp mode and Fusion, but if I were to do this I'd just install Vista as a virtual machine to begin with, and retain the original Boot Camp partition just for gaming, if at all.

0 Kudos
flipdoubt
Contributor
Contributor

While I appreciate your pragmatic approach, it didn't really address my

questions.

1. If I don't uninstall my OEM OS but do activate using a retail key,

do you think that would work?

2. Where you wrote "The Compatibility folders are used for the XP

activation; Vista uses a different scheme," can you share Vista's scheme

with me so I can do a comparison similar to the way you had me do a file

compare of the wpa.dbl files?

Thanks again.

0 Kudos
jim_gill
Expert
Expert

Oops, I didn't understand the question.

If you don't uninstall: I don't know. I don't know if a retail key can be used to activate an OEM version of Vista; mostly because I don't know how OEM and retail versions differ, just that they do and that they can tell (but it may just be the key itself). If it does work, (and you reactivate it in BootCamp) you will need another key to run as a VM (which Microsoft has provided for others, but I cannot make guarantees).

Would it work if you activate with the OEM key in Boot Camp mode but a retail key under Fusion? I haven't tried, but it may. After all, when people get a second key from the phone support people, it works.

The different scheme: look in c:\ProgramData\VMware\RawdskCompatibility.

flipdoubt
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks. That's a lot of complicated stuff in that RawdskCompatibility folder. I'm hoping to call in and have Microsoft give me another key to activate the virtual machine.

0 Kudos
flipdoubt
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks. That RawdskCompatibility folder sure contains a lot of complicated stuff.

0 Kudos
flipdoubt
Contributor
Contributor

I wonder if my activation situation has something to do with the USB Stop error I reported at http://communities.vmware.com/thread/96159?tstart=0. After booting into native Boot Camp and then running Boot Camp in Fusion without activating, I can shutdown my BCVM without the USB Stop error. As soon as I activate my BCVM (which I've done over 10 times, by the way), I get the USB Stop error whenever I shutdown my BCVM. Does Fusion perform any licensing magic of the Boot Camp partition during shutdown? I wonder if my situation, where the Boot Camp license is an OEM license, makes the USB Stop error happen.

Any thoughts?

0 Kudos
djrobx
Contributor
Contributor

I had the same problem - Vista kept deactivating itself each time I'd switch between Boot Camp and the VM. Interestingly, Microsoft accepted the re-activation going back and forth 6 times. Not wanting to press my luck, I decided to try "starting over" by removing the VMWare tools, and deleting the whole boot camp vmwarevm on the mac side. After doing so, to my surprise, the Boot Camp partition was "Activated" inside the VM on the first go. I'm not sure how that's possible, but I'm happy the activation nonsense stopped.

0 Kudos