Article ID: 949748 - View products that this article applies to.
This article describes the changes that Microsoft has made to the product activation process to provide improved support when you run Windows Server 2008 in a virtual operating system environment.
These changes affect the following versions of Windows Server 2008:
Windows Server 2003 was delivered with only one product key. When you obtain Windows Server 2008 from an OEM or as an FPP, you receive two product keys to use to activate the software. The product keys in Windows Server 2008 are called the product key and the virtual key.
Product keyThe product key is a 25-character key. You use this key to activate an instance of Windows Server 2008 in the physical operating system environment in which the instance of Windows Server 2008 is not running on any virtualization software or on a hypervisor layer.
Windows Server 2008 uses the product key to associate or bind itself to the server hardware exactly as it does in Windows Server 2003.
If the server came from an OEM with Windows Server 2008 preinstalled, the OEM may have pre-activated the instance of the software in the physical operating system environment. When you use a product key, a reactivation is required in the following scenarios:
Virtual keyThe virtual key, also known as a virtual product key, is also a 25-character key. You use this key to activate an instance of Windows Server 2008 in a virtual operating system environment in which the instance of Windows Server 2008 is running on virtualization software or on a hypervisor layer.
Windows Server 2008 uses the virtual key to bind to the hardware differently than in Windows Server 2003 and differently than it does when it is activated by using the product key.
You can use a virtual key to change most of the virtual hardware configurations that typically vary in virtual operating system environments, such as memory or CPU. You can do this without having to reactivate. Additionally, you can use the virtual key to move instances of Windows Server 2008 from one virtual environment to another without having to reactivate.
The virtual key lets you activate multiple instances of Windows Server 2008 in virtual environments. This provides better support for the license terms that enable you to perform the following functions:
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Article ID: 949748 - Last Review: March 19, 2008 - Revision: 1.0