Do I Need Another Windows 10 License for A Virtual Machine

Virtualization software increases productivity and reduces operating cost. When creating virtual machines, you need install Windows operating system. So how to choose Windows licenses and do you need another Windows license in a virtual machine?


By Crystal / Updated on April 19, 2024

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Do I need another Windows license for a virtual machine

In a virtual environment, when you create a new virtual machine and install Windows as the guest system, you may wonder “Do I need another Windows license for a virtual machine?”

The answer is YES. The number of Windows licenses depends on the number of processors and processor cores, so you are licensing hardware instead of software. If you use the same license of your PC for a virtual machine, it will state “This product key is being used on another PC”. When you export a virtual machine or perform P2V, Windows is able to recognize that the virtual hardware is different. So you need to activate another Windows license for a virtual machine.

If you purchase a fully packaged product (FPP) of Windows (often called a "boxed copy") from a retail store or purchase Windows online from the Microsoft Store, the product key can be transferred to another computer.

Windows license for a virtual machine

Types of Windows licenses

The type of Windows license you need depends on the usage of the VM. Below are specific Windows licenses for virtual machines to help you carefully consider license terms and compliance when making your choice. In addition, this article will also provide you with steps to add additional licenses for your Windows 10 virtual machine.

With an OEM license, Windows is tied directly to the hardware on which it was loaded by the manufacturer. Most pre-installed versions of Windows have OEM licenses. OEM licenses generally cannot be transferred to another computer, or to a virtual machine. If you use the Fusion Migrate Your PC feature to migrate one of these types of systems to a virtual machine, you might be required to purchase a second license (or product key) from Microsoft. If a second product key is required, you can get that through the Microsoft representative when you call Microsoft Support to activate the operating system now residing in the virtual machine.

With a retail license, when you buy Windows from a vendor, the license enables you to change platforms as often as you want. In this case, you can reactivate Windows over the Internet, or by phone with Microsoft Support.

With an enterprise license, you can move the operating system around freely.

type of Windows license

How to license a Windows 10 virtual machine

You can look through the Help and Support item on the Windows Start menu, which enables you to find specific information about activation for the Windows 10 operating system. If you do not find out any information, you do not have a legitimate Windows 10 license. In this case, the only solution is to purchase another product key used for the Windows 10 virtual machine.

This part covers the steps to add a Windows license to VMware ESXi and Workstation.

Note: Install VMware Tools in the virtual machine before you activate Windows. VMware Tools keeps track of the activation keys. Without VMware Tools installed, you must reactivate Windows each time you start up the virtual machine.

1. In VMware ESXi, after creating a virtual machine, you need to enter the license to active Windows 10.

add Windows license to VMware ESXi

Note: You can also add a Windows license for Hyper-V virtual machine following the official Windows installation wizard.

2. In VMware Workstation, you can add a Windows product key when creating a new virtual machine.

enter Windows license in VMware Workstation

If you want to install an operating system later, you can navigate to the main screen of VMware Workstation, then select Help >> Enter a License Key.

enter a license key

After adding a license for Windows 10 VM, you can enjoy the benefits of Windows 10 operating system. However, you should know that there is no absolutely secure operating system. Especially for enterprises, virtual machine holds precious files and important software. When its system crash or other unpredictable disasters occur, it’s possible to cause you to never access to your data. So, backup is so important for any sizes of business.

Important: Protect VM data securely with AOMEI Cyber Backup

Regular backup contributes to avoid data loss and reduces the financial damage when accidents happened. AOMEI Cyber Backup - a free VM backup software, offers a secure VMware and Hyper-V backup that offers flexible backup strategies for free. With AOMEI Cyber Backup, you can benefit from the following features.

Perpetual Free: no time limit for AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition.
Support Free ESXi: support both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
Easy to use: Backup multiple virtual machines through central console and offers intuitive interface to perform the click-based operation.
Automate VM Backup: Schedule VM backup with flexible backup strategies and run the backup tasks automatically, which reduces human errors and always protects VM data continuously.
Centralized VM Backup: Backup multiple virtual machines on the host simultaneously from a central console, and simplify VM backup and management.
Instant Recovery: Restore entire VM from any point without any complicated reinstallation and configuration.
Less Time and Cost: Offer hot backup to reduce VM downtime, so it avoids the financial loss due to business interruption.

Please hit the button below to download and use AOMEI Cyber Backup for free:

Download FreewareVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

Free and secure backup of multiple virtual machines:

1. Click Backup Task >> Create New Task to back up numerous Hyper-V virtual machines.

create VM backups

2. In the opened wizard, schedule VM backup as the following.

• Enter Task Name and select VMware ESXi Backup as an example.

VMware ESXi backup

• In Device Name section, select virtual machines on the host to back up simultaneously.

select VMs for backup

• In Target section, according to 3-2-1 backup rule, you can store VM backups in different place such as local destination, network share, NAS device, thus greatly protecting your VM data.

backup VM to NAS

• In Schedule section, select full / incremental/differential backup methods and specify the backup frequency by date / week / month.

automate VM backup

3. Click Start Backup, you are able to recover the Hyper-V virtual machine hitting Restore on the main screen without any complex configuration.

restore VM

✍ While the Free Edition covers most of the VM backup needs, you can also upgrade to Premium Edition to enjoy:
✦ Batch VM Backup: Batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server or standalone ESXi hosts.
✦ Backup Cleanup: Configure retention policy to auto delete the old backup files and save storage space.
✦ Restore to new location: Easily make a clone of a virtual machine in the same or another datastore/host, without reinstalling or configuring a new VM.

Restore to new location


As with physical machines, virtual machines running any version of Windows require valid licenses. No matter you create a new VM or migrate PC to virtual machine, you will need another Windows license for the virtual machine.

Besides, VMware image backup and restore helps to avoid data loss in virtual machine.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.