Windows and Office prompting to activate on every reboot of VMWare Fusion/Parallels

Posted: January 1, 2010 in Mac OS X, Office 2003, Office 2007, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP
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This is one for Mac users.

There is a known issue where Windows and Office on a Mac machine will prompt to reactivate on every reboot of VMWare Fusion or Parallels virtual machine.

This issue only occurs if the ALL the following conditions are true.

  1. Windows is installed on Bootcamp
  2. The Bootcamp partition is being loaded in the Mac OS as a virtual machine using VMWare Fusion or Parallels

Windows and Office, as we all know, has a built in activation mechanism. This mechanism uses what is called an Installation ID that’s generated based on the Product Key and Hardware ID. Hardware ID is generated based on the key components in the system, for example, motherboard, CPU, etc. On a regular computer, Bootcamp and a Virtual Machine, the Hardware ID is always the same, so the activation mechanism knows that the software is still on the same computer.

The problem surfaces when a Bootcamp partition is loaded on Mac OS using either Parallels or Fusion. For some reason, the Machine ID generated by the machine changes every time the Virtual Machine is restarted. As expected, Windows and Office will detect that it has been “moved” to another computer and prompt for activation.


The best solution for this issue is to use Windows and Office in either Bootcamp or a Virtual Machine and not combine the two. If for some reason you need to use Windows and Office in the configuration listed above, the only solution available is to re-activate Windows and Office every time the Virtual Machine is restarted. I know this is not acceptable for most people however at the time of writing, I have not come across any workaround for this.

If you do know of any workaround for this problem, please do let us know. I’m sure it will come in handy.

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  1. Chad says:

    For win 7 if you use the automated re-activation it will allow you to use windows in both bootcamp and VMWare. I have only tried this with VMWare. I have not been able to fix the issue with office 2010.

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