These days we all work with loads of VPCs for different purposes: development, demoing, testing... One of the main concerns when using downloaded demo VPCs is that they will expire at some point. This obviously doesn’t happen when you use your own licenses for it, but it is normal if you use Microsoft provided demo VPCs. I’m writing this post just to put together the information about what happens when the VPC expire, how we can know when a VPC expires and how we can extend the expiration.

What happens when a VPC expires?

The VPC normally doesn’t have any special mechanism for the expiration. It is just the normal Windows Server trial software license expiration. Well, this is the case for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM VPCs, though in other Microsoft CTP VPCs like Visual Studio the expiration is on the Visual Studio license.

Normally, when a Dynamics CRM VPC expires what happens is that the machine will keep restarting each one hour, which effectively leaves the VPC totally useless. However, one hour should be enough time to extract all the data and customisations that you need from it. A fast option can be creating a database backup and take it out of the VPC.

How do we know when a VPC Expires?

This actually depends on the trial license expiration date. In the Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the trial license is the Windows Server license so we can just write in command window “winver” and we will see the following screen which provides the expiration date. (Seen on Girish Raja’s Blog)

image_thumb_4

 

How Can I extend the VPC expiration?

Extending the VPC expiration involves changing the VPC system date time to avoid reaching the expiration date. This basically will make the VPC useless for production however it can get you some useful extension on the VPC life, specially if you have created a nice demo VPC and you want to keep it while building a new one.

The main problem with changing the VPC system date, is that by default it automatically synchronises with the host system date time, which means that you would need to change the date and time on your machine. Whit the added problem that in a domain joined machine you shouldn’t do that.

However, we can use a little trick on the VPC configuration file to disable the Date Time host synchronisation and then make the VPC travel back in time (remember the VPC cannot be joined to an external VPC domain). In order to do that you just need to open the VMC file and modify or add the host time sync section as shown below.

<integration> 
    <microsoft> 
        <mouse> 
            <allow type="boolean">true</allow> 
        </mouse> 
        <components> 
            <host_time_sync> 
                <enabled type="boolean">false</enabled> 
            </host_time_sync> 
        </components> 
... 

    </microsoft> 
</integration>
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I found this information on Jeff Beehler’s blog, which provides a more details on it, and some links on how you can achieve the same if you are using Virtual Server.

Summary

Finding out the expiration of your VPC will depend normally on the trial software license expiration that you are using. In the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Demo VPC case depends on the Windows Server trial expiration date, that you can check using “winver” command. Once the VPC has expired the behaviour will depend on the trial license, the Windows Server case will keep restarting each hour.

It is possible to extend the life of the VPC by changing the date time of the system, although you might need to un-synchronise the VPC clock as shown previously.

Hope this helps!

Marco Amoedo