Contributor
Contributor

Does a single user using a single hardware machine have to license each instance of O/S for each VM created?

I have recently "discovered" virtualization and look at it as a potential solution to a number of previously vexing problems associated with operating a PC. Note I said "a" PC.

I am an individual user, not a data center or even a small business with several machines.

I have a (brand new, higher end) workstation with Windows 7 Ultimate (which hardware machine has not yet even had basic applications installed on it).

I also have an older desktop with XP Pro that is my daily "working" machine until I get the new one fully set up, and a laptop.

Essentially I want get my working applications installed on my new machine so that I can gradually phase out working on my old machine.

I see VMware and virtualization as a means of avoiding many of the pitfalls of PC's such as having to do time consuming system rebuilds or reinstalls of software that seem to be necessary every once in a while, use VM as a means of system backup, and (hopefully) be able to use a copy of my system for testing new software applications without the risks of installing them on my main system.

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I plan to create a virtual machine and install my software applications on/in it.

That way (theoretically, am I correct?) I can "clone" a copy of my system when I want to install and test new software or upgrades without risking messing up my "main" system setup.

I can back up the system by making a copy of the virtual machine and storing it safely in case I need to back up after some sort of software or installation problem.

I can have specialized VM's that only have minimal applications uninstalled to conserve hardware resources.

My question is this and I cannot seem to find an answer to it anywhere.

IF I create a VM do I need to buy a seperate MS operating system license for it?

If I create copies of my basic system setup and wish to use one or more of them for testing software, does each copy need a seperate license?

The intent would be that all VMs woudl run on the same hardware machine and generally I would likely only run one VM at time. As much as I can see advantages to running multiple VM's for larger groups of users, there in only me and I really only need to run one system at a time.

If anyone can shed some light on this I would really appreciate it.

I'm hoping for a more summarized answer rather not be told to "check with MS" since I have looked there and not found any clear answer that really addresses a single user.

I am sure if I call an MS support line they will tell me I have to buy a license for every VM I create which will "financially" kill this at the idea stage.

Many thanks in advance.

Brent

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5 Replies
Immortal
Immortal

The short answer is you need a valid license for each instance of an installed OS that requires a license and typically with Windows OSes each instance requires a separate license.

The longer answer is to read the EULA and or SLA for the products you're working with.

Contributor
Contributor

Hmmmm..........

That is pretty disappointing. Pretty much kills the utility of virtualization for anything but an enterprise environment.

Pretty much kills my interest in virtualization too. I'm not going to pay for multiple licenses when essentially I am only using one at a time.

This does sort of underscore the need for me to explore alternatives such as Linux more thoroughly tho'.

I will try to see if I can explore this with MS but with an OEM installed license I am sure I won't like the answer.

Thanks for the response. I've seen some stuff that says you can have four instanbces under a licence but lookimng closely it looks like it refers to some sort of enterprise license product too.

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Hot Shot
Hot Shot

And this is precisely why I used to pay $250 annually for a Technet Direct subscription. The initial fee is typically $350, but coupon codes are sometimes available via Internet searches. Now that my company pays to maintain my MCT status, which fortunately includes the same subscription.

Most of Microsoft's software, including operating systems, can be used for test and development purposes.

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Immortal
Immortal

Most of Microsoft's software, including operating systems, can be used for test and development purposes.

True however this does not negate the need for observing the EULA and even the MSDN versions are bound by a set number of installs based upon your subscription, EULA and the number of install the product is licensed for.

The OP is using an OEM and technically unless he qualifies and an OEM System Builder as defined by Microsoft's OEM System Builder EULA then he doesn't have the right to install it much less even if he was an OEM System Builder there is a second part the requires distribution after installation which means buying and using an OEM version for personal use violates the OEM EULA.

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Contributor
Contributor

Just for the record, I have an OEM version (at leawst assume it is) whihc was installed by the system builder that bought my workstation. Also for the record, I am not inclined to deliberately disrespect the terms of EULA's. But, I would but I am not (can't afford to) spend $250 a copy for every virtual machine I might set up.

Having been in this game as a serious end user since the first IBM PC (my first machine) I am fairly sophisticated in how I organize and set up my system and I get a lot of utility out of it. Unfortunately the amount of non productive time involved in doing a "clean" install of the O/S from scratch and rebuilding my system means that I try to avoid doing that at all costs. On my old system, I used to make a physical copy of the system (physical) drive before installing anything. Time consiuming but a virtually failsafe way of being able to "go back" if the install screws up or if I don't like the result or even if I got a virus or other seriouls problem. Just reach up the the shelf, pull the last back up drive down, swap and reboot and I'm fine. I don;t change machines very often either simply because of the time necessary to reinstall all of my applicatiosn and sustomize the way I want it.

I had HOPED that virtualization would have alowed a more elegant way of doing this. I planned to install my applications on a virtual machine and then simply make a copy of it before installing something new or unknown. At the end of the day, I can only USE one stsyem at a time, but it looks like to do what I want to do I need at LEAST two copies of WIn 7 and possibly three so that I could have alternating copies of my system runing on VM's that leapfrog one another wihen upgrades are installed etc. One can underdtand MS wanting to get paid for some enterprise set up that had 30 VM's runing on a server(s) instead of 30 seperate hardware machines but in my case, like I said, I'd only ever be using one at a time, although I might alternate between two versions to test something new out of experiemtn with something I wasn't sure I'd like.

Just plain disappointing when I think about it but I'll just continue with my present practice of cloning the physical syetem drive before and install. Storage is relatively cheap (defintely cheaper to buy a hard drive and drive cartridge than another copy of Windows). What that doesn;t allow is portability of the entire system to another physical machine but maybe by the time I upgrade to new hardware I will be more up to speed on alternative O/S's.

But, like I said earlier, kind of renders VMware of little use to an individual user like me.

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