VMware OEM Key Activation
A Windows Server key will allow you to create a Windows virtual machine (the number of virtualised instances depends on if it is Esstentials, Standard or Datacenter and more information can be found at the Microsoft Product Licensing Page).
In order for an OEM key to active, it must be able to see some BIOS information, which, by default, is not passed through to virtual machines in VMware/ESXi.
In order to expose the necessary BIOS information some changes will need to be made in the .vmx file which defines the virtual machine.
The following lines will need to be added:
SMBIOS.reflectHost = "TRUE"
SMBIOS.noOEMStrings = "TRUE"
SMBIOS.addHostVendor = "TRUE"
Once this has been added, boot the virtual machine and via PowerShell (or command prompt) issue the following commands:
C:\Windows\System32\slmgr.vbs /ipk “your product Key”<—no quotes and needs to be in CAPS with the dashes
Windows should now be activated.