I just ordered a new Lenovo X1 with Windows 10 for work. There will be times I'm required to run Windows, though I prefer to use Linux (Mint, currently) for most day-to-day tasks.

Question: If I create a back-up of the originally-installed copy of Windows 10 through whatever means Lenovo provides (recovery USB drive creation tool of some sort, I'm assuming), can I then re-install that copy of Windows in a VM after I get Mint up & running, or will I run into license issues when I re-home Win10 into a VM? (This might be a Windows forum question, but I'm guessing more folks here have had experience with this.)

I'd rather go this route than dual-boot, so please don't offer that as an answer to this question. (...though I do appreciate the advice!)

Thanks Everyone,


  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because a Windows license question has nothing to do with Unix or Linux. And I also fail to understand why Unix guys should have more experience with Windows' licence issues than Windows guys.
    – Marco
    Nov 27, 2015 at 16:56
  • got'cha. I just assumed other Linux users had dealt with the same issue and could help shed some light for me. I haven't received much intelligent help from the Windows forums. (I know I can always find that here!) Still, I'll close out the question here.
    – Shane10101
    Nov 27, 2015 at 16:57
  • Would be interesting to know whether the idea of backing up a Windows 10 installation (and with what tools), then attempting to install it into a VirtualBox guest machine, whether Windows 10 somehow detects "hey this isn't the original machine!" or not. Would this be a SuperUser question then?
    – clarity123
    Nov 27, 2015 at 20:37
  • @user454038 Added this case to my answer: Running a backup/image of the original installation to a VM will trigger reactivation of Windows which will fail since OEM-licenses are in general bound to the motherboard.
    – H. Idden
    Nov 28, 2015 at 12:47

1 Answer 1


citing https://superuser.com/questions/965151/can-you-transfer-a-windows-10-oem-licence-to-a-vm-while-not-running-a-windows-ho :

In short; It will work, but is not allowed:

As stated on Microsoft.com:

You are required to support the license on that original PC, but you cannot support a license that has been moved from a PC that you manufactured to one that you did not. This is one of the key reasons why an OEM System Builder License can’t be transferred.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

If you had a non OEM license it would have been OK to virtualize your Windows, so long as you deactivate the old one.

source: http://www.microsoft.com/OEM/en/licensing/sblicensing/Pages/transfer_oem_licenses.aspx

Additionally you might not be able to get the Windows 10 license key since OEM keys are most of the times burned into the BIOS/UEFI.

Running a backup/image of the original installation to a VM will trigger reactivation of Windows which will fail since OEM-licenses are in general bound to the motherboard. From the official Microsoft FAQ:

What happens if I change my motherboard?

As it pertains to the OEM license this will invalidate the Windows 10 upgrade license because it will no longer have a previous base qualifying license which is required for the free upgrade. You will then have to purchase a full retail Windows 10 license. If the base qualifying license (Windows 7 or Windows 8.1) was a full retail version, then yes, you can transfer it.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.