A pain point for virtualization and cloud administrators is the activation of Windows. In particular, large enterprises and hosters that are running multi-tenant clouds with network isolation find this particularly troubling. You could activate VMs by hand but that would eliminate self-service. You could fire up KMS – but that means you need to route all your VM Networks to an administrative network to have access to your KMS machine. Even smaller companies hate the added complexity – “I’ve paid for Datacenter edition so why do I need to activate all the VMs that I’m entitled to?”. Microsoft engineering agreed.
Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter edition hosts (no matter what source of license you have) will provide automatic activation of the VMs running on them, as long as the host is activated. There’s nothing more to it than that … deploy a Windows Server 2012 R2 VM on WS2012 R2 Datacenter edition, and it will activate automatically. Your licensing, your networking, your administrative costs all just got easier and lower. You gotta love that! And there’s a reason to deploy WS2012 R2 in your VMs
Note: you don’t enter product keys at all in the VMs. This is great for hybrid cloud and VM mobility. Say a customer creates a VM in a hosting company cloud from a template/gallery item. It is automatically activated with no product key entered using this new feature. Say the customer downloads the VM. Now it’ll need re-activation (maybe automatically if placed on WS2012 R2 Hyper-V), and possibly a product key, depending on the customer’s virtualization.