Category Archives: VMware Fusion

VMware Fusion, Apple Boot Camp, and Windows Activation

I’m trying to get Windows XP SP2 running on my MBP using both Boot Camp (to be able to run Windows natively) and virtualized using VMware Fusion, but sharing the same Windows installation. This turns out to be complicated by Windows annoying product activation system. When run under Fusion, Windows sees different hardware than when running natively on Boot Camp, so it wants you to reactivate.

According to this thread in the VMware forums and page 8 of the Fusion Getting Started guide (PDF), the solution is to activate things in a particular order:

  1. Install Windows XP SP2 using Boot Camp
  2. Activate Windows under Boot Camp
  3. Install Fusion, picking the Boot Camp as the virtual machine
  4. Install the VMware Tools
  5. Reboot the virtual machine
  6. Activate Windows under Fusion

Now one should be able to run under Boot Camp or Fusion with no reactivation problems. I am about to try the Fusion side now.

Note for Vista users, Fusion 1.0 isn’t able to finesse the Windows activation issue (this is mentioned in the release notes).

Update: When I tried to activate in Fusion, Windows told me my license key had used up all its reactivations. So, I was forced to use their automated telephone system to activate, which was comically bureaucratic to Brazil proportions. You have to repeat 9 groups of 6 numbers [sic!!] to an automated attendant, which then tells you 6 groups of 6 numbers that you have to type in. It boggles my mind that Windows users put up with this kind of crap. Anyway, that finally worked, but then when I booted back into Windows via Boot Camp it needed reactivation. Luckily, I could do it via the Internet activation option this time, and now Windows seems happy in both Boot Camp and Fusion. bleargh.