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Upgrade to Microsoft Edge to take advantage of the latest features, security updates, and technical support. Applies To: Windows 10, Windows 8. This technical overview for the IT professional describes the volume activation technologies in Windows operating systems and how your organization can benefit from using these technologies to deploy and manage volume licenses for a medium to large number of computers.
Microsoft Product Activation Information about end-user licensing and how to license individual copies of Windows that are purchased at retail locations. Remote Desktop Licensing Manager. These technologies include:. The Volume Activation Services server role Volume Activation Services is a server role Windows Server starting with Windows Server that enables you to automate and simplify the issuance and management of Microsoft software volume licenses for a variety of scenarios and environments.
With KMS, IT pros can complete activations on their local network, eliminating the need for individual computers to connect to Microsoft for product activation. KMS does not require a dedicated system, and it can be cohosted on a system that provides other services. By default, volume editions of Windows client and server operating systems connect to a system that hosts the KMS service to request activation. No action is required from the user. Active Directory-based Activation Active Directory-based Activation is a role service that allows you to use Active Directory Domain Services AD DS to store activation objects, which can further simplify the task of maintaining volume activation services for a network.
With Active Directory-based Activation, no additional host server is needed, and activation requests are processed during computer startup. Any computers running a client or server operating system with a Generic Volume License Key GVLK that are connected to the domain will activate automatically and transparently. They will stay activated as long as they remain members of the domain and maintain periodic contact with a domain controller.
Activation takes place after the licensing service starts. When this service starts, the computer running a Windows client or server operating system contacts AD DS automatically, receives the activation object, and activates without user intervention. Domain controllers running earlier versions of Windows Server can activate clients after their schemas have been updated using the Windows Server version of Adprep.
For more information, see Running Adprep. Other Microsoft volume activation technologies that can be used in conjunction with Windows server operating systems include:. VAMT 3. In addition, VAMT 3. VAMT version 3. There are two ways to use MAK to activate computers:. MAK independent activation Each computer must independently connect and be activated by Microsoft over the Internet or by telephone. MAK proxy activation A computer that is acting as a MAK proxy gathers activation information from multiple computers on the network, and then sends a centralized activation request to Microsoft on their behalf.
Automatic Virtual Machine Activation AVMA lets you install virtual machines on a properly activated Windows server without having to manage product keys for each individual virtual machine, even in disconnected environments. There are no product keys to manage and no stickers on the servers to read. The virtual machine is activated and continues to work even when it is migrated across an array of virtualization servers. Before you configure and use volume activation technologies, it may be helpful to understand how volume activation works.
This request includes an encrypted client computer ID. If the computer has never been activated and there is no response from the KMS host, the client sends a new request after two hours. If the computer has been activated, the client sends a new reactivation request after seven days.
The client evaluates the activation count against the license policy and activates if the activation threshold is met. KMS maintains an activation threshold, which requires that the organization activate at least five computers physical or virtual machines running a server operating system with Windows Server or later and at least 25 client computers running Windows 8 or later.
The computers running Windows Server must connect within a day period to active KMS client computers. In an environment that is using Active Directory-based Activation, the volume activation process is as follows:. A user with Enterprise Administrator permissions installs the Active Directory-based Activation role service on a domain controller, including the KMS host key, and then activates the KMS host key with the activation services that are hosted by Microsoft.
This installation can be completed from any computer where the Volume Activation Tools console is installed. When a domain-joined computer running Windows with a GVLK starts, the licensing service on the client automatically queries the domain controller for licensing information.
Active Directory-based Activation cannot be used to license computers that are not members of the domain.
If a valid activation object is found, activation proceeds silently without user intervention. If Active Directory-based Activation or KMS activation are not options such as to license computers in remote locations , MAK keys can be distributed as part of an operating system image.
After a MAK is installed, each client needs to connect to Microsoft individually over the Internet or by telephone to complete activation. A second MAK validation option is available for client computers that are not connected to the Internet, such as in remote or highly secured environments.
The tool then activates the client computer by installing the CID. Validating the licenses and activating tens, hundreds, or thousands of computers in multiple locations is an important network administration task. By doing so, you verify that operating systems and applications are genuine, have not been compromised, and will be supported.
Volume Activation Services in can help you accomplish these tasks. Product activation is the process of validating software with the manufacturer. Activation confirms the genuine status of a product and that the product key has not been compromised. In earlier versions of the Windows operating system, activation and validation using the Windows Genuine tool occurred separately. This caused confusion for users who thought the terms were interchangeable. In Windows operating systems starting with Windows Server or Windows 8, activation and validation occur at the same time.
For released versions of Windows client and server operating systems, licenses can be obtained through the following channels:. Retail Microsoft software products that are acquired through a retail store are individually licensed and come with one unique product key printed on the product packaging , which the user enters during product installation.
The computer uses this product key to complete activation after the software installation is complete. This final activation step can be accomplished online or by telephone. OEM activation is performed by associating the operating system to the firmware of the computer. This process occurs before the computer is sent to the customer so that the software is already activated and no additional actions are required by the user.
If customers want to create customized images, they can use the image provided by the OEM as the basis for creating custom images. Volume licensing A volume license is a product key that allows an organization to activate a specific number of clients to use a particular piece of software. Microsoft Volume Licensing offers customized programs that are tailored to the size and purchasing preference of a variety of organizations.
To become a volume licensing customer, the organization needs to set up a volume license agreement with Microsoft. Activation is designed to be relatively transparent to users. However, the operating system must be activated immediately upon installation. Failure to activate the Windows operating systems will prevent users from completing customization.
Customers can use one or all three of the volume activation scenarios described earlier KMS, Active Directory-based activation, or MAK to activate systems in their environments. If you have a network where multiple versions of Windows client and server operating systems are deployed, you will probably want to use KMS to activate them.
KMS enables organizations to activate systems within their network, eliminating the need for individual computers to connect to Microsoft for product activation. To use KMS activation, the computer must have the qualifying operating system license often obtained through OEMs as part of a new computer purchase , and they must contain a Windows marker in the BIOS. When to use Active Directory-based Activation : Active Directory-based Activation simplifies the process of activating clients that are running an operating system starting with Windows 8 or Windows Server Activation objects themselves are not editable.
However, an administrator with proper permissions can use advanced AD DS tools to view each activation object and to configure security access control lists ACLs for the activation objects to restrict access as needed. Administrators can delete activation objects, if necessary. On a local client, a user can use the command line to perform these functions if they have Write access to the activation object.
Computers may be laptops that are in the possession of employees who travel frequently, may be located in branch offices that do not have good connectivity to the host network, or may be part of extremely secure networks that are disconnected from the main network. You can use MAK to activate these clients. Volume activation services can be installed and used on any computer running Windows Server or later operating system.
Domain controllers that are running earlier versions of Windows Server can activate clients after their schemas have been updated using the Windows Server version of Adprep.
KMS can be installed by using the Server Manager on any computer running Windows Server or later operating system. It can also be installed from the command line and used on computers running earlier versions of Windows Server.
KMS can be used to activate computers running any version of Windows that can be a member of a domain. Volume Activation Operations Guide. Volume Activation Technical Reference Guide. Volume Activation Planning Guide. Volume Activation Deployment Guide. Solutions to Common Volume Activation Errors. Plan volume activation of Office Preview. Volume activation methods in Office Preview. Skip to main content. This browser is no longer supported.
Download Microsoft Edge More info. Table of contents Exit focus mode. Table of contents. Note KMS maintains an activation threshold, which requires that the organization activate at least five computers physical or virtual machines running a server operating system with Windows Server or later and at least 25 client computers running Windows 8 or later.
Note This installation can be completed from any computer where the Volume Activation Tools console is installed. Note Active Directory-based Activation cannot be used to license computers that are not members of the domain. In this article.
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Even after Windows activation, the system may keep counting down the days grace period, and displaying it on the corner of the screen. Windows Server Evaluation problem needs to first be converted to a full retail version before it can be activated with a serial key. Generic Installation Keys ; Windows Server R2 Essentials, KNCJ2TX-XB4WP-VCPJV-M4FWM ; Windows Server R2 Foundation, 7JGXN-BW8X3-DTJCK-WG7XB-YWP