What is Volume Activation?
Volume Activation is a product activation technology that was first introduced with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. It is designed to allow Volume License customers to automate the activation process in a way that is transparent to end users.
Volume Activation applies only to systems that are covered under a Volume Licensing program and is used strictly as a tool for activation. It is not tied to license invoicing or billing.
Volume Activation provides two different models for completing volume activations. Either or both key types may be used by customers to activate systems in their organization:
- Key Management Service (KMS)
KMS allows organizations to activate systems within their own network.
- Multiple Activation Key (MAK)
MAK activates systems on a one-time basis, using Microsoft’s hosted activation services.
Important: As part of your installation, it is important to plan and manage deployment of any product using Volume Activation.
What is the Key Management Service (KMS)?
The Key Management Service (KMS) is an activation service that allows organizations to activate systems within their own network, eliminating the need for individual computers to connect to Microsoft for product activation. It does not require a dedicated system and can be easily co-hosted on a system that provides other services.
KMS requires a minimum number of either physical or virtual computers in a network environment. These minimums, called activation thresholds, are set so that they are easily met by Enterprise customers.
- Activation Thresholds for Windows – Your organization must have at least five (5) computers to activate servers running Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 and at least twenty-five (25) computers to activate client systems running Windows Vista or Windows 7.
- Activation Thresholds for Office – Your organization must have at least five (5) computers running Office 2010, Project 2010, or Visio 2010 to activate installed Office products using KMS. For more information about Volume Activation of Office products (that is, Office 2010, Project 2010, and Visio 2010), see the Volume Activation Quick Start Guide for Office 2010, and Volume Activation Overview for Office 2010.
What is a Multiple Activation Key (MAK)?
A Multiple Activation Key (MAK) activates systems on a one-time basis, using Microsoft’s hosted activation services (that is, it requires connection with a Microsoft activation server). Once computers are activated, no further communication with Microsoft is required.
Important: Each MAK has a predetermined number of allowed activations, based on your Volume Licensing agreement. Contact the Microsoft Activation Center to increase your MAK activation limit.
You can activate licenses in one of two ways using MAK:
- MAK Independent Activation – Each computer individually connects to Microsoft via the web or telephone to complete activation.
- MAK Proxy Activation – One centralized activation request is made on behalf of multiple computers with a single connection to Microsoft online or by telephone. This method uses the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT), which is a part of the Windows 7 Automated Installation Kit (WAIK). VAMT enables IT Professionals to automate and centrally manage the Volume Activation process using MAK, and includes a check on the number of activations on the MAK.
Can Customer use both MAK and KMS for deployment across my organization?
Yes. Volume Licensing customers can use KMS, MAK, or a combination of each to activate systems in their organization.