When installing Windows on a virtual machine the error Windows Cannot find Microsoft software license terms may popup, right at the beginning. This error can also occur during an upgrade or in a clean install.
There are a lot of topics on the internet discussing this Windows Cannot find Microsoft software license terms error. In this post, I’ve summed up every fix I could find. Ordered from most probable solution to less likely. So just work through the list from top to bottom. And it would be great if you’d leave a comment below what your solution was :)
Reboot the VM
This may sound too easy to be true, but in my case, I DID solve my problem. During the creation of the VM, I had immediately connected the ISO of Windows 10 20H2. Somehow, HyperV didn’t expect me to be that quick I guess. ;-)
Anyways, I just turned off the VM. Waited a sec and restarted and booted from CD-ROM. That took me to the installation wizard and the installation went smoothly. Please make sure to fully shutdown the VM, and then start it. A ‘reset’ will not fix the Windows Cannot find Microsoft software license terms error.
Set VM memory to static
In HyperV and VMWare (vSphere, Fusion, and Workstation), there’s a setting to assign dynamic memory to a VM, for example, 512-8096MB. The good thing about this is that the VM starts with 512 MB and can request more memory when needed. However, this sometimes causes the Windows Cannot find Microsoft software license terms error at the install. To fix it:
- Turn off the VM
- Go to the settings of the VM and change the memory assignment from Dynamic RAM to Static (2048 MB recommended). (Don’t go crazy assigning more RAM than you have available. This will lead to other errors as you run out of memory )
- Install Windows on the VM
- Once Windows is installed, you can revert the memory setting to Dynamic.
Sometimes, assigning a good amount of startup memory may fix the issue as well. Please let me know in the comments below what you experienced!
Remove the floppy drive
VMWare Workstation / Fusion adds a floppy drive to each VM by default. In the first place, it’s a (small) waste of I/O and system resources. In the second place, it may lead to the License Terms error. So that’s two good reasons to remove the floppy drive :) To remove and install:
- Turn off the VM
- Go to settings and remove the floppy drive. Or just uncheck Connect Floppy
- Install Windows on the VM
- Once Windows is installed, it’s up to you whether you want to re-add the floppy drive to the VM.
Did this help you out? Great! Leave a comment below if you had success, or in case you have further questions. Otherwise, read on to try another possible fix.
Redownload the ISO
Although the error message Windows Cannot find Microsoft software license terms indicates your ISO may be corrupt, it’s still one of the last things I’d expect. Nowadays browsers are smart enough to do correct downloads. And it would be very much a coincidence if precisely the license terms were corrupt. More likely, you would get this error A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing (which was a very common error back in Server 2012)
But still, it may be possible, so re-download the ISO if previous fixes didn’t work out well.
Windows 10: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10
Windows Server 2016 eval: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/evaluate-windows-server-2016?filetype=ISO
Windows Server 2019 eval: https://www.microsoft.com/en-US/evalcenter/evaluate-windows-server-2019?filetype=ISO
Bypass Easy Install in Vmware Workstation
VMWare Workstations’ Easy Install may be the culprit too. To bypass it, do the following:
- Start VMware Workstation
- Create A New Virtual Machine
- Select the option I will install the operating system later
- Your new virtual machine will now be added to your virtual library.
- Double click your new Virtual Machine to start it.
- It will prompt that an OS is not installed. Then it provides an option to insert the OS installation media.
- Simply click on Change CD/DVD Settings to select your ISO media then Restart VM.
Did this solution fix the Windows Cannot find Microsoft software license terms error? Let me know in the comments below :)
If not, let’s try the next fix.
Obtain a new version of HP Intelligent Provisioning
If you’re trying to install Windows on physical hardware, there’s a chance you use HP Intelligent Provisioning for that. Some older versions of this tooling caused the Windows Cannot find Microsoft software license terms error to occur. The solution is quite simple: get the latest version of the tool, which is compatible with Windows Server 2016 and 2019.
Final note on Windows Cannot find Microsoft software license terms
As you can see, there can be many causes for the error Windows Cannot find Microsoft software license terms to appear. If none of the solutions helped, please leave a comment. This blog is viewed thousands of times a month. There is a good chance that I or a visitor knows the solution to your problem!