What changes to Parallels Desktop will force Windows reactivation?

Discussion in 'Windows Guest OS Discussion' started by Mark Looper, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. Mark Looper

    Mark Looper


    I got Parallels Desktop free with my MacBook a year ago, and have only been messing around with it a little using ancient (W98 and earlier) OS disks I already had lying around, or ones I could obtain for free (FreeDOS). However, now I am looking to get serious and install Windows XP Pro, and I need to ask for some help in deciding how to proceed.

    Specifically, I found a very helpful discussion of Windows XP activation at http://www.aumha.org/win5/a/wpa.php, in which are detailed the changes in hardware that will cause the activation engine to conclude that it has been moved to a new computer and needs to be re-activated, or (if it's a System Builder, a.k.a. "OEM," disk rather than a 120% costlier full retail version) to shut me down 'cause it can't be re-activated on new hardware. My question is, what changes in my Parallels Desktop installation will cause the activation engine to see enough changes to trigger it?

    If PD were an old-skool emulator like Virtual PC, then I'd guess the emulated hardware would change every time the application was significantly upgraded; is this true of a virtualization app like PD? Conversely, if I get XP set up on my MacBook and then move my Parallels installation (application, registration, and drive containers) to my iMac, will that look like a hardware change to XP and trigger the activation engine? Or is the "hardware" that will be checked inherent in PD itself, and thus unchanged by the move?

  2. Hugh Watkins

    Hugh Watkins

    a new MAC number

    Hugh W
  3. Mark Looper

    Mark Looper

    A new MAC number, but what else, and how?

    Sorry it has taken me a week to return to this discussion. According to the link I gave in the initial question, the Ethernet card (i.e., presumably its MAC number) is the most heavily weighted element in the "voting" to determine whether the computer has changed enough to require reactivation; however, it is not the only element. Will upgrading the version/build of Parallels Desktop, or moving my PD installation to another Mac, change these other elements (motherboard, video card, etc.)?

    And as for the Ethernet card MAC number, I seem to recall that there was a utility function within PD that would let me change the number that the guest operating system sees. Is there a default MAC number for all new PD virtual machines, or does a new PD installation pick up the MAC number of the Mac's physical Ethernet card? (What does Parallels do for a MacBook Air, with no built-in Ethernet -- use the AirPort card's MAC number?) If the latter, will the MAC number travel with the drive container file, prefs file, or whatever when I move it to another Mac? If not, can I reset the virtual machine's MAC number to match that of the previous Mac before I boot the guest OS and it sees the change (and, potentially, deactivates itself)?

    Basically, I'm a cheap #@%&, and I am not inclined to spend over twice as much to buy a full retail copy of Windows XP if I can attach a System Builder copy to the virtual machine I'm "building" in PD, and then keep using it as I move that virtual machine around, upgrade the PD application, etc.

  4. rbh


    I changed the amount of memory I allocated to the VM in the VM configuration (up from 1GB to 1.5GB) and that made Vista want to re-activate. Changes to the NIC too (eg. the MAC address) will do it.

    When I had to jump briefly to another machine with the VM a couple of weeks ago due to a system glitch (MacBook Pro screen not waking when the display had been put to sleep), I manually changed to MAC address to be the same as the original machine just to play it safe...

    Other wise Parallels is Parallels, though i will caveat that and say during my small emergency, Vista did notice that the old system was running a 2.4GHz Merom (T7700) CPU and the newer on a 2.4GHz Penryn (T8300) - but that didn't cause any issues, even when I put everything back on my main work system.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2008

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