Learn about AVMA (Automatic Virtual Machine Activation) in order to activate guest virtual machines running on Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 R2.

Let’s say that you have your Hyper-V host running Windows Server 2012 and now you’ve configured few guest virtual machines also running 2012 R2, the question is how do you activate these virtual machines ?

First, you need to make sure that your host is running Windows Server 2012 DATACENTER edition. That is the only edition that allows you to automatically activate guest virtual machines. Pretty cool, except that the Datacenter edition costs 7x the price of the standard edition.

Prices 2012 R2
Prices 2012 R2

If you are running the standard version of 2012 R2 and you have a valid datacenter license somewhere, please type the following command:

After a reboot, your host will be running an activated 2012 R2 Datacenter edition.

Now to activate your guest virtual machines, you need to use AVMA (Automatic Virtual Machine Activation) keys which are available for all:


AVMA lets you install virtual machines on a properly activated Windows server without having to manage product keys for each individual virtual machine, even in disconnected environments. AVMA binds the virtual machine activation to the licensed virtualization server and activates the virtual machine when it starts up. AVMA also provides real-time reporting on usage and historical data on the license state of the virtual machine. Reporting and tracking data is available on the virtualization server. (From Technet)

You don’t need to buy any new license or to setup a KMS server. They are free because included in your Datacenter license.

AVMA only requires a virtualization server running Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter. The guest virtual machine operating system must be Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter, Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, or Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials. No need to try to activate your host with, it does not work.

Follow the procedure below on your guest virtual machines:

  • Click on the Start Button and type: CMD (into the ‘Search programs and files’ field in the Start Menu)
  • The Start Menu will show ‘CMD.exe’,
  • Right-click the CMD.exe file and select Run As Administrator.
  • if you are running Datacenter or Standard Edition, type the following command: 

  • If you are using the Evaluation edtion, type the folowing command:

From Evaluation to Standard
From Evaluation to Standard

  • To activate windows after changing the key, type:

  • Reboot your server
  • Windows is activated
Activated Windows
Activated Windows
  • Check your license by using the following command:


As you can see, the license is only valid for 7 days. Don’t panic, Windows will periodically reactivate itself, just make sure that the license on your Hyper-V is always validated.


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