Saturday, January 30, 2010

Windows 2008 License Activation Quick Overview - KMS & MAK

Microsoft has made a lot of changes to their license activation of new Windows versions, Windows 2008, Vista, and Windows 7. Here is a quick overview of what and how to activate Windows using this new activation method.

There are two types of license activation methods that Windows 2008, Vista, and Windows 7 clients can use, Multiple Activation Key - MAK and Key Management Services - KMS. MAK is very simple but can also be confusing and problematic if not implemented correctly. KMS involves a little more work on Systems Administrators' side. But regardless of which method is used, overall process can be automated and no product keys are necessary to enter when activating Windows. Volume Activation Management Tool - VAMT is provided by Microsoft for managing Windows licensing and is included in Windows 7 Deployment Services.

MAK Activation:
- Clients can be activated by installing individual MAK keys or by using a MAK Proxy Activation Server provided by VAMT.
- There are no minimum requirements for clients on the LAN.

KMS Activation:
- A machine running Windows 7,Vista,2008 must act as a KMS Host on the LAN.
- A host must be activated using KMS key
- A host cannot be activated more than 10 times with the same KMS keys.
- Host publishes SRV record in DNS listening on Port 1688
- A minimum of 5 Windows 2008 KMS client should always be on the LAN
- A minimum of 25 Windows Vista or Windows 7 (exclusive) should be on the LAN
- Can be installed on a DC

Note: You can use VAMT to remotely change type of keys used by Windows 2008, Vista, and Windows 7 client. You can also use VAMT to activate clients in batches. This is very important and useful when you want start out small with MAK keys and then switch everyone to KMS when you have reached the minimum client requirements for KMS.

Here are generic KMS Client Setup Keys:

Windows Vista Business
Windows Vista Business N
Windows Vista Enterprise
Windows Vista Enterprise N
Windows Server 2008 Datacenter
Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V
Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems
Windows Server 2008 Enterprise
Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V
Windows Server 2008 Standard
Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V
Windows Web Server 2008

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