A little known fact about Windows Server 2012 (WS2012) Standard and Datacentre editions is the fact that you can run these operating systems as a Hyper-V host and use a variety of operating systems as virtual servers. The limitation on the number of virtual machines is governed by licensing. You can install two virtual machines per 1-2 physical processors on a host server if you have WS2012 Standard. If you want 3-4 virtual hosts running on this server, you can purchase another WS2012 Standard license, or you could purchase WS2012 Datacentre, which allows you to install as many virtual servers as your physical machine can handle.
Granted, this is not new for those who have purchased a Volume License agreement. However, not many realise that this is also available in the System Builder or OEM channel.
There is a lot of information on the OEM Partner Center here – http://www.microsoft.com/oem
Therefore, if you are running WS2012 as a HyperV Host, you can install up to two virtual servers, which can be any of the following – WS2012 (standard or datacentre), WS2012 Essentials, WS2011 Essentials, WS2008R2, WS2008, WS2003.
The big question is “How to I activate the servers?”
To downgrade the virtual servers, you will need to implement the following steps:
Obtain genuine Windows Media and a corresponding product key.
- It should come from a previously legally licensed version from the OEM or Retail channel. (Yes, that is correct! You can grab a DVD and a product key from a previously activated and installed server. It does not have to be yours)
- If you have a volume license agreement, then you must use the volume license media and product keys.
- Install the virtual server using the media and corresponding product key above.
When the server needs to be activated, you can attempt to do this online. If it works, great! If you are not able to activate the product key because it had been previously activated, you will need to call the Microsoft Activations service.
- Call the number as listed for your country. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/950929
- Select Windows or Windows Server activation.
- Type in the installation ID as shown on your screen and wait to be transferred to a service representation.
- Explain to the representative that you are downgrading your WS2012 installation and need to activate the WSnnnn installation.
- When asked, provide the installation ID, and the representative will provide you with the confirmation ID to activate the server.
Note that the other OEM licensing rules still apply. You cannot transfer this license to another physical machine, nor can you put the virtual machines on another physical host. The host and the virtual machines must live and die on the physical machine that they are licensed for.