Volume Activation 2.0
Planning Guide
for
Windows Vista® and Windows Server® 2008
Microsoft Corporation
Published: March, 2008
Abstract
Volume activation is designed to automate and manage the activation process for volume
licensing customers. This document is intended for IT implementers whose organization is
a Microsoft Volume Licensing customer and who need to plan a deployment of Volume
Activation 2.0.
This document and any document referenced herein is provided for informational purposes only and Microsoft makes no
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The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
Volume Activation 2.0 Planning Guide
Introduction ............................................................................................................ 4
Steps to Planning Volume Activations ......................................................................... 4
Review Available Activation Models ............................................................................ 4
Key Management Service (KMS) ........................................................................... 4
Minimum Computer Requirements .................................................................... 5
How KMS Works ............................................................................................. 6
Planning a KMS Deployment ............................................................................ 8
Multiple Activation Key (MAK) ............................................................................... 9
Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) ................................................... 10
MAK Architecture .......................................................................................... 10
Evaluate Client Connectivity .................................................................................... 11
Activation Scenarios .......................................................................................... 13
Core Network ............................................................................................... 13
Isolated Networks......................................................................................... 14
Individual Disconnected Computers ................................................................ 17
Test/Development Labs ................................................................................. 17
Map Systems to an Activation Method ...................................................................... 19
Determine Product Key Needs ................................................................................. 19
Determine Monitoring and Reporting Needs .............................................................. 21
Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) ...................................................... 21
System Management Server (SMS) and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM)21
Event Logs ....................................................................................................... 22
KMS Management Pack ...................................................................................... 22
Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) ........................................................ 22
Appendix 1: Information Sent to Microsoft During Activation ...................................... 23
Appendix 2: License Conditions .............................................................................. 23
Activated ......................................................................................................... 24
Grace .............................................................................................................. 24
Genuine ........................................................................................................... 24
Notification....................................................................................................... 25
Unlicensed/Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM) ...................................................... 26
Introduction
Volume Activation 2.0 (VA 2.0) is a configurable solution that helps IT professionals
automate and manage the product activation process of Windows Vista® and
Windows Server® 2008 systems licensed under a Microsoft Volume Licensing
program. This guide provides information to assist you in planning a deployment of
VA 2.0. It contains steps for planning volume activations and VA 2.0 scenarios.
For an introduction to VA 2.0, see the Volume Activation 2.0 Overview Guide. All VA
2.0 guides are available online and for download at
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=75674.
Steps to Planning Volume Activations
A VA 2.0 deployment can be broken down into five major steps. Each step listed is
expanded in a corresponding section of this document. To plan a VA 2.0
deployment, you should complete the following steps:
1. Review available activation models.
2. Evaluate client connectivity.
3. Map systems to an activation method.
4. Determine product key needs.
5. Determine monitoring and reporting needs.
Review Available Activation Models
Volume Activation provides two different models for implementing volume
activations. The model you choose depends on the size, network infrastructure,
connectivity, and security requirements of your organization. You can choose to use
just one or both available models of volume activation.
Key Management Service (KMS)
KMS activates operating systems on your local network, eliminating the need for
individual computers to connect to Microsoft®. To do this, KMS uses a client/server
4
method of implementation. KMS clients connect to a KMS server, called the KMS
host, for activation. The KMS host resides on your local network.
Minimum Computer Requirements
To plan for the KMS model of activation, you must ensure that your network meets
or exceeds the minimum number of computers that KMS requires and you must
understand how the KMS host tracks the number of computers on your network.
KMS Activation Thresholds
KMS can activate both physical and virtual computers, but to qualify for KMS
activation a network must have a minimum number of physical computers, called
the activation threshold. KMS clients activate only after this threshold is met. To
ensure that the activation threshold is met, a KMS host counts the number of
physical computers requesting activation on the network. The count of activation
requests is a combination of both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008
computers. However, each of these operating systems begins activating after a
different threshold is met. The Windows Server 2008 KMS client threshold is five
(5) physical computers. The Windows Vista KMS client threshold is twenty-five (25)
physical computers. Virtual computers do not contribute to the activation count, but
virtual computers are activated by KMS after the physical computer threshold is
met.
A KMS host responds to each valid activation request from a KMS client with the
count of how many physical computers have contacted the KMS host for activation.
Clients that receive a count below the activation threshold do not activate. For
example, if the first two computers that contact the KMS host have Windows Vista
installed on a physical computer, the first receives an activation count of one and
the second receives an activation count of two. If the next computer is a Windows
Vista virtual computer, it receives an activation count of two, because only physical
computer installations advance the activation count. None of these systems activate
since Windows Vista computers must receive an activation count that is 25 or
greater to activate. Clients that do not activate because the activation count is too
low connect to the KMS host every two hours, by default, to receive a new count.
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If the next computer that contacts the KMS host has Windows Server 2008 installed
on a physical computer, it receives an activation count of three, because activation
counts are a combination of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista computers. If
a Windows Server 2008 computer, whether it is a physical computer or a virtual
computer, receives an activation count that is five or greater, it activates. If a
Windows Vista computer, whether it is a physical computer or a virtual computer,
receives an activation count that is 25 or greater, it activates.
Activation Count Cache
To track the activation threshold, the KMS host keeps a track of the KMS clients
that request activation. Each KMS client that connects to the KMS host is given a
unique client identification (CMID) that is saved to a table on the KMS host. Each
activation request remains in the table for 30 days. When a client renews its
activation, the cached CMID is removed from the table, a new record is created,
and the 30-day period begins again. If a KMS client does not renew its activation
within 30 days, the corresponding CMID is removed from the table and the
activation count is reduced by one.
The KMS host caches twice the number of CMIDs that KMS clients require for
activation. For example, on a network with Windows Vista clients, the KMS
activation threshold is 25. This KMS host caches the CMIDs of the most recent 50
activations. The KMS activation threshold for Windows Server 2008 is 5. A KMS
host that is only contacted by Windows Server 2008 KMS clients caches the 10
most recent CMIDs. If that KMS host is later contacted by Windows Vista, it
increases the cache size to 50 to accommodate the higher activation count
requirement.
How KMS Works
KMS activation requires TCP/IP connectivity. KMS hosts and clients are, by default,
configured to use DNS to publish and use the KMS service. You can use these
default settings, which require little to no administrative actions, or you can
manually configure KMS hosts and clients, depending on your network configuration
and security requirements.
6
KMS Activation Renewal
KMS activations are valid for 180 days. This is called the activation validity interval.
KMS clients must renew their activation by connecting to the KMS host at least once
every 180 days to stay activated. By default, KMS client computers attempt to
renew their activation every 7 days. After a client’s activation is renewed, the
activation validity interval begins again.
Publication of the KMS Service
The KMS service uses service (SRV) resource records (RR) in DNS to store and
communicate the locations of KMS hosts. KMS hosts, by default, automatically
publish the information KMS clients need to find and connect to them using
Dynamic DNS (DDNS).
Client Discovery of the KMS Service
KMS clients, by default, query the DNS server for KMS service information. The first
time a KMS client queries the DNS server for KMS service information, it randomly
chooses a KMS host from the list of SRV resource records returned by DNS. If the
selected KMS host does not respond, the KMS client computer removes that KMS
host from its list of SRV resource records and randomly selects another KMS host
from the list. After a KMS host responds, the KMS client computer caches the name
of the KMS host and uses it for subsequent activation and renewal attempts. If the
cached KMS host does not respond on a subsequent renewal, the KMS client
computer discovers a new KMS host by contacting the DNS server for KMS SRV
records.
Client computers connect to the KMS host for activation using anonymous Remote
Procedure Calls (RPCs) over TCP, using TCP port 1688 by default. This connection is
anonymous. After the client computer establishes a TCP session with the KMS host,
the client then sends a single request packet. The KMS host responds with the
activation count. If the count meets or exceeds the activation threshold for that
operating system, the client activates and the session is closed. This same process
is used for renewal requests.
7
Planning a KMS Deployment
The KMS service does not require a dedicated server and can be co-hosted with
other services. You can run a KMS host on physical or virtual system running
Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, or Windows Server 2003, but a KMS host
running on Windows Vista can only activate Windows Vista KMS clients. A single
KMS host can support an unlimited number of KMS clients, but for failover, two
KMS hosts is the recommended minimum. Most organizations can operate with as
few as two KMS hosts for their entire infrastructure.
Note: KMS is automatically included with Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista, but not with
Windows Server 2003. If you want to host KMS on Windows Server 2003, you must download and
install KMS for Windows Server 2003, which is available for download at
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=82964 in several languages. The 64-bit version is available at
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=83041.
Planning DNS Server Configuration
DDNS and SRV record support are needed for the default auto-publishing feature of
KMS. Any DNS server that supports SRV records (per RFC 2782) and dynamic
updates (per RFC 2136) can support KMS client default behavior and KMS SRV RR
publishing. Berkeley Internet Domain Name (BIND) versions 8.x and 9.x support
both SRV records and DDNS.
You need to configure the KMS host so that it has the credentials needed to create
and update SRV, A, and AAAA resource records on your DDNS servers, or you need
to manually create these records. The recommended solution for giving the KMS
host the needed credentials is to create a security group in Active Directory® and
add all KMS hosts to that group. In the Microsoft DNS server, ensure that this
security group is given full control permission over the _VLMCS._TCP record on
each DNS domain that will contain the KMS SRV records.
Activating the First KMS Host
KMS hosts on your network need to install a KMS key and then activate with
Microsoft. Installation of a KMS Key enables the Key Management Service on the
KMS host. After this installation, activation is completed either by telephone or
online. The KMS keys used for KMS activations are only installed on KMS hosts and
8
never on individual KMS clients. Beyond this initial activation, a KMS host does not
communicate any information to Microsoft.
Activating Subsequent KMS Hosts
After the first KMS host is activated, that KMS key used on the first KMS host can
then activate up to five more KMS hosts on your network. After a KMS host is
activated, administrators can reactivate the same host up to nine more times with
the same key.
If your organization needs more than six KMS hosts, you may request additional
activations for your organization’s KMS key. An example of this would be if you had
ten separate physical locations under one volume licensing agreement and you
wanted each location to have a local KMS host. To request this exception, you
should call your Activation Call Center. For more information about this, go to the
Volume Licensing Web site at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=73076.
Planning KMS Clients
Computers running volume licensing editions of Windows Vista and Windows Server
2008 are, by default, KMS clients with no additional configuration needed. KMS
clients can locate a KMS host automatically by querying DNS for SRV records that
publish the KMS service. If your network environment does not use SRV records, an
administrator can manually configure a KMS client to use a specific KMS host. The
steps needed to manually configure KMS clients are in the Volume Activation 2.0
Deployment Guide.
Multiple Activation Key (MAK)
MAK is used for a one-time activation with Microsoft’s hosted activation services.
Each MAK key has a predetermined number of allowed activations. This number is
based on your volume licensing agreements, and does not match your
organization’s exact license count. Each activation using a MAK with Microsoft’s
hosted activation service counts towards the activation limit.
There are two ways to activate computers using MAK: MAK Independent and MAK
Proxy activation. MAK Independent activation requires that each computer
9
independently connect and activate with Microsoft, either over the Internet or by
telephone. MAK Proxy activation enables a centralized activation request on behalf
of multiple computers with one connection to Microsoft. MAK Proxy activation is
configured using the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT).
MAK can be used for individual computers or with an image that can be bulkduplicated or provided for download using Microsoft deployment solutions. MAK can
also be used on a computer that was originally configured to use KMS activation, if
that computer’s activation is about to or has reached the end of its grace period or
activation validity interval.
MAK is recommended for computers that rarely or never connect to the corporate
network and for environments where the number of physical computers needing
activation does not meet the KMS activation threshold. MAK Independent activation
is best suited for computers within an organization that do not maintain a
connection to the corporate network. MAK Proxy activation is appropriate for
environments where security concerns may restrict direct access to the Internet or
the corporate network. It is also suited for development and test labs that lack this
connectivity.
Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT)
VAMT is a standalone application that collects activation requests from several
systems then sends them, in bulk, to Microsoft. VAMT allows you to specify a group
of computers to activate using Active Directory (AD), Workgroup names, IP
addresses, or computer names. After receiving the activation confirmation codes,
VAMT then distributes them back to the systems that requested activation. Because
VAMT also stores these confirmation codes locally, it can reactivate a previously
activated system after it is reimaged without contacting Microsoft. You can
download VAMT along with prescriptive guidance at
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=77533.
MAK Architecture
MAK Independent activation installs a MAK product key on a client computer and
instructs that computer to activate against Microsoft servers over the Internet. In
10
MAK Proxy activation, VAMT installs a MAK product key on a client computer,
obtains the Installation ID (IID) from the target computer, sends the IID to
Microsoft on behalf of the client, and obtains a Confirmation ID (CID). The tool then
activates the client by installing the CID.
Evaluate Client Connectivity
Each method available in VA 2.0 is best suited to a particular network configuration.
To select the best activation method or methods for your organization, you need to
assess your network environment to identify how different groups of computers
connect to the network. Connectivity to the corporate network, Internet access, and
the number of computers that regularly connect to your corporate network are
some of the important characteristics to identify. Most medium to large
organizations use a combination of activation methods because of varied client
connectivity needs.
KMS is the recommended activation method for computers that are well connected
to the organization's core network or that have periodic connectivity, such as
computers that are offsite. MAK activation is the recommended activation method
for computers that are offsite with limited connectivity or that cannot connect to the
core network because of security restrictions.
Table 1 lists common network configurations and the best practice
recommendations for each type. Each solution factors in the number of physical
computers and network connectivity of the activation clients.
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Table 1: VA 2.0 Planning Considerations by Network Infrastructure
Recommendations
Core network
Well-connected
LAN
Most common
scenario
N
e
t
w
o
r
k
I
n
f
r
a
s
t
r
u
c
t
u
r
e
Isolated
network
Branch office, high
security network
segments,
perimeter
networks
Well-connected
zoned LAN
Test or
development
lab
Isolated network
Individual
disconnected
computer
No connectivity to
the Internet or
core network
Roaming
computers that
If physical computers > KMS activation
threshold:
 Small (<100 machines): KMS host =
1
 Medium (>100 machines): KMS
host ≥ 1
 Enterprise: KMS host > 1
If physical computers ≤ KMS activation
threshold:
 MAK (by telephone or Internet)
 MAK Proxy
If ports on firewalls can be opened
between KMS clients and hosts:
 Use KMS host(s) in core network
If policy prevents firewall modification:
 MAK (by telephone or Internet)
 MAK Proxy
Considerations
Minimize the number of KMS
hosts
Each KMS host must consistently
maintain a count of physical
machines > KMS activation
threshold
KMS hosts are autonomous
KMS host is activated by
telephone or Internet
Firewall configuration
RPC over TCP (TCP port
1688); initiated by the client
Change management on firewall
rule sets
If physical computers > KMS activation
threshold:
KMS host = 1 (per isolated
network)
If physical computers ≤ KMS activation
threshold:
No activation (reset grace period)
MAK (by telephone)
MAK Proxy performed manually
Variable configuration
Limited number of systems
Virtual computers
KMS host and MAK activation
through telephone; MAK Proxy
performed manually
For clients that connect periodically to
the core network:
Use the KMS host(s) in core
network
For clients that never connect to core
network or have no Internet access:
MAK (by telephone)
For networks that cannot connect to
the core network:
Restricted environments or
networks that cannot connect to
other networks
KMS host can be activated,
moved to disconnected network
KMS host and MAK activation by
telephone; MAK Proxy performed
manually
12
periodically
connect to core
network or connect
through Virtual
Private Network
(VPN)
If physical computers > KMS
activation threshold,
- Small: KMS host = 1
- Medium: KMS host ≥ 1
- Enterprise: KMS host > 1
If physical computers ≤ KMS
activation threshold, MAK
Independent or MAK Proxy
performed manually
Activation Scenarios
This section illustrates a few examples of VA 2.0 solutions in heterogeneous
corporate environments that require more than one activation method. Each
scenario has a recommended activation solution, but some environments may have
infrastructure or policy requirements that are best suited to a different solution.
Core Network
A centralized KMS solution is the recommended activation method for computers on
the core network. This solution is for networks that are characterized by wellconnected computers on multiple network segments that also have a connection to
the Internet. In Figure 1, the core network has a KMS host. KMS hosts publish the
KMS service using DDNS. KMS clients query DNS for KMS SRV records and activate
themselves after contacting one of the KMS hosts. The KMS hosts are activated
directly through the Internet.
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Figure 1: Core Network Scenario
Note: You can install a KMS host on a virtual computer. You should select a virtual computer
that is unlikely to be moved to a different physical computer. If the virtual computer KMS host is
moved to a different physical computer, the operating system detects the change in the
underlying hardware, and the KMS host must reactivate with Microsoft.
Isolated Networks
Many organizations have networks that are separated into multiple security zones.
Some networks have a high security zone that is isolated because it has sensitive
information, while other networks are separated from the core network because
they are in a different physical location.
High Security Zone
High security zones are parts of a network that are separated by a firewall that
limits communication to and from other networks. If the computers in a high
security zone are allowed access to the core network, you can activate the high
security zone computers by using KMS hosts located in the core network. This way,
the number of client computers in the high security network does not have to meet
any KMS activation threshold. If you use this configuration, firewalls must allow TCP
port 1688 outbound from the high security zone and an RPC reply inbound. If these
14
firewall exceptions are not authorized, and the number of physical computers in the
high security zone is sufficient to meet KMS activation thresholds, you can add a
local KMS host to the high security zone.
Figure 2 shows an environment that has a corporate security policy that does not
allow any traffic between computers in the high security zone and the core network.
Because the high security zone has enough computers to meet the KMS activation
threshold, the high security zone has its own local KMS host. The KMS host itself is
activated by telephone.
Figure 2: High Security Network Scenario
If KMS is not appropriate because there are only a few computers in the high
security zone, MAK Independent activation is recommended. Each computer can
activate independently with Microsoft, by telephone.
MAK Proxy activation using VAMT is also possible in this scenario. Since the
computers in the high security zone do not have Internet access, VAMT can
15
discover them using Active Directory, computer name, IP address, or membership
in a workgroup. VAMT uses WMI to install MAK product keys and CIDs and to
retrieve status on MAK clients. Since this traffic is not allowed through the firewall,
you must have a local VAMT host in the high security zone.
Branch Office Locations
Figure 3 shows an enterprise network that supports client computers in three
branch offices. Site A uses KMS with a local KMS host, because it has more than 25
client computers and it does not have a secure TCP/IP connectivity to the core
network. Site B uses MAK activation, because KMS does not support sites with
fewer than 25 Windows Vista KMS client computers and the site is not connected by
a secure link to the core network. Site C uses KMS, because it is connected to the
core network by a secure connection over a private WAN, and activation thresholds
are met using core network KMS clients.
Figure 3: Branch Office Scenario
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Individual Disconnected Computers
Some users in an organization may be in remote locations or may travel to many
locations. This scenario is common for roaming clients, such as the computers of
salespeople or other users that are offsite, but not at branch locations. This
scenario can also apply to remote branch office locations that have no connection or
an intermittent connection to the core network.
Disconnected computers can use KMS or MAK depending on how often the
computers connect to the core network. Use KMS activation for computers that
connect to the core network, either directly or through a VPN, at least once every
180 days, and where the core network is using KMS activation. Use MAK
Independent activation, by telephone or the Internet, for computers that rarely or
never connect to the core network. Figure 4 shows disconnected clients using MAK
Independent activation through the Internet and also the telephone.
Figure 4: Disconnected Computers Scenario
Test/Development Labs
In a lab environment, computers are reconfigured often and usually have a large
number of virtual computers. You should first determine whether the computers in
17
test and development labs need activation. You can reset the initial 30-day grace
period of a Windows Vista computer three times without activating it. If you have
Windows Vista Enterprise edition, you can reset the grace period five times. The
initial grace period of Windows Server 2008 computer is 60 days and can be reset
three times. If you rebuild lab computers often enough, within 120 days for
Windows Vista, within 180 days for Windows Vista Enterprise edition, and within
240 days for Windows Server2008, you do not need to activate lab computers.
If you do need activation, labs can use KMS or MAK activation. Use KMS activation
if the computers have connectivity to a core network that is using KMS. If the
number of physical computers in the lab meets the KMS activation threshold, you
can deploy a local KMS host.
In labs that have a high turnover of computers and also have a small number of
physical KMS clients, it is important to monitor the KMS activation count to
maintain a sufficient number of cached CMIDs on the KMS host. A KMS host caches
activation requests from physical computers for 30 days. See the Minimum
Computer Requirements section of this document for more information about how
CMIDs affect activations. If your lab environment needs activation, but does not
meet the conditions for KMS activation, you can use MAK Independent activation,
by telephone or Internet, if available.
MAK Proxy activation using VAMT can also be used in this scenario. If you install a
local VAMT inside a lab that has no outside connectivity, you must manually update
VAMT. You need to install VAMT in the isolated lab network and also in a network
that has access to the Internet. VAMT, in the isolated lab, performs discovery,
obtains status, installs a MAK product key, and obtains the IID of each computer in
the lab. You can then export this information from VAMT, save it to removable
media, and then import the file to a computer running VAMT that has access to the
Internet. VAMT then sends the IIDs to Microsoft and obtains the corresponding
CIDs needed to complete activation. After you export this data to removable media,
you can then take it to the isolated lab to import the CIDs so VAMT can complete
the activations.
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Map Systems to an Activation Method
After evaluating the recommended activation scenarios, the next step is mapping
computers using volume activation to activation methods. The goal is to ensure that
all computers are associated with an activation option. Table 2 provides a simple
job aid that ensures all computers are mapped to an activation method. When
completing this job aid, ensure that all computers using KMS are on networks that
meet KMS activation thresholds.
Table 2 Activation Method Worksheet
Criteria
Activation
Method
Number of
Computers
Total number of computers to be activated
Number of computers that will connect to the
network at least once every 180 days (directly or
VPN), and where the KMS activation threshold is met
KMS
Number of computers that do not connect to
network at least once every 180 days
MAK
Number of computers in isolated networks where
the KMS activation threshold is met
KMS
Number of computers in isolated networks where
the KMS activation threshold is not met
MAK
Number of computers in test/development labs that
will not be activated
None
Remaining computer count should be zero
Determine Product Key Needs
Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 come in a variety of editions. To simplify
volume activation and the number of product keys needed for an organization,
Microsoft created product key groups for volume editions of these operating
systems. Product keys for both KMS and MAK apply to product groups rather than
individual operating system editions, but KMS and MAK each use product key
groups in a different way.
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MAK activation uses product key groups as individual groupings. Product keys for
MAK activations are directly associated with a single product group and can only
activate the Windows® editions within that specific product group. With KMS,
product keys work hierarchically with the product groups. Figure 5 demonstrates
how KMS treats product key groups hierarchically. The first and least inclusive
group of the hierarchy is the Client Volume License product group, while Server
Group C is the most inclusive group in the KMS hierarchy. A KMS key can activate
Windows editions in its own product group and can also activate Windows editions
that are higher in the pyramid of the product key group hierarchy.
Figure 5 Product Key Groupings
As an example, a volume licensing customer that needs to activate Windows Server
2008 Datacenter using KMS needs to use a KMS key for Server Group C. Server
Group C is the most inclusive product group, so a KMS key for Server Group C can
activate volume editions of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista that belong to
all other product key groups. If a customer has a KMS key for Server Group B, that
key can activate products that belong to Server Group B as well as products that
20
belong to the Client Volume License group. This functionality is automatic and
requires no further actions from end users or VA 2.0 administrators.
For an up-to-date list of the Windows editions that are in each of the four product
key groups, go to http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=75674.
Determine Monitoring and Reporting Needs
Organizations that use VA 2.0 need to track product key usage and the license
conditions of activated computers. One tool available to volume licensing customers
is the VLSC Web page at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=107544. Volume
licensing customers can log on to this Web site at any time to view their KMS key
information as well as the number of activations that remain on a MAK key.
There are several additional tools available to assist volume licensing customers
with managing activations and product key usage. This section describes the
available tools and how each assists volume licensing customers.
Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)
Data that is gathered during activation is accessible using WMI. Several of the tools
available use WMI to access volume activation data. See Appendix 1 of the Volume
Activation 2.0 Operations Guide for a list all of WMI methods, properties, registry
keys, and event IDs for product activation.
System Management Server (SMS) and System Center
Configuration Manager (SCCM)
Both MAK and KMS can use Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 with Service
Pack 3 (SP3) or System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 to monitor the
license conditions of their organization’s computers. For a detailed description of
the available license conditions, see Appendix 2: License Conditions in this guide.
SMS 2003 SP3 and SCCM 2007 use built-in Asset Intelligence reporting and WMI to
generate detailed activation reports for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008
computers. This information can also serve as the starting point for your
organization to track and report software asset management from a licensing
perspective.
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Event Logs
The KMS service records every action in the application logs of KMS clients and
hosts. A KMS client records activation requests, renewals, and responses in the
KMS client’s local application log using Microsoft Windows Security Licensing (SLC)
event numbers 12288 and 12289. The KMS host logs a separate entry for each
request it receives from a KMS client as SLC event number 12290. These entries
are saved to the Key Management Service log in the Applications and Services
Logs folder. Each KMS host keeps an individual log of activations. There is no
replication of logs between KMS hosts.
KMS Management Pack
You can archive and review KMS’s event logs manually or, if you have System
Center Operations Manager 2005, you can use the Microsoft Key Management
Service (KMS) MOM 2005 Management Pack. The KMS Management Pack uses WMI
to generate detailed activation reports for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008
computers. To download this Management Pack and its Management Pack guide, go
to the Systems Center Operations Manager Product Catalog at
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=110332.
Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT)
Each MAK key has a predetermined number of allowed activations, based on an
organization’s volume licensing agreement. Each activation with Microsoft’s hosted
activation services reduces the MAK activation pool by one. MAK implementations
should include how your organization plans to monitor the number of MAK
activations that are left.
Both MAK Independent and MAK Proxy activations can use VAMT to monitor this.
VAMT is a standalone application that can run on Windows XP, Windows Server
2003, or Windows Vista. It reports on the license condition of all systems using
MAK activation and tracks the MAK activation count.
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Appendix 1: Information Sent to Microsoft During
Activation
Microsoft uses the information collected during activation to confirm that you have
a licensed copy of the software. The information is then aggregated for statistical
analysis. Microsoft does not use the information to identify you or contact you. For
more information about the information captured during activation and the use of
that data by Microsoft, see the Windows Vista Privacy Statement at
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=52526.
During MAK activation and KMS host activation, the following information is sent to
Microsoft:

Product key

Edition of the operating system and the channel from which it was obtained

Current date

License and activation condition

Hardware ID hash, a non-unique number that cannot be reverse engineered

Language settings

IP address, used only for verifying the location of the request
Appendix 2: License Conditions
Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 may be in one of five software licensing
conditions: activated, grace, genuine, notification, and unlicensed. These conditions
reflect the status of the system’s activation and genuine state, which dictates the
end user experience.
The software licensing architecture governs the licensing condition of Windows
systems. This architecture has a policy engine that is built from a number of core
Windows security technologies. It is designed to protect the code and the
associated licensing condition from tampering or other malicious behavior.
The policy engine gets data from a set of cryptographically signed XrML license
files. XrML is an industry-standard rights expression language that is used by a
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number of Windows components. License files define the rights and conditions of
the installed edition of Windows. All licensing files, or other data used by the policy
engine, are digitally signed, or encrypted, using keys chained to secure Microsoft
roots of trust.
Activated
When a system is activated, it can use the full functionality of the installed
operating system. The functionality for a Windows edition is defined by a
combination of licensing files and a set of policies, or rights, granted as a result of
the activation process. Individual Windows components call software licensing APIs
to determine what rights are granted and adjust their functionality according to the
response.
Grace
After a Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 operating systems is installed, but
before it is activated, the computer has the full functionality of the operating
system, but only for a limited amount of time, or grace period. The length of a
grace period can vary from thirty days, for Windows Vista, to sixty days, for
Windows Server 2008. During this initial grace period, there are periodic
notifications that the system needs to be activated. The notifications are minimally
intrusive and may not start at the beginning of the grace period, but do increase in
frequency towards the end of the grace period.
Genuine
The Genuine condition is not associated with the activation process. Instead, it is a
condition that is determined by the online Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA)
service. When a user attempts to download or use a Genuine-Only feature, the
WGA validation service checks the operating system of the requesting computer.
An operating system can have one of three different Genuine statuses:
•
Non-Genuine. The system has obtained a ticket from the online validation
service indicating that it is not genuine.
•
Local Genuine. The system has not obtained a valid ticket.
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•
Genuine. The system has a Microsoft signed ticket from the online validation
service indicating that it is genuine.
The Genuine license condition applies only to Windows Vista. Initially, during the
grace period, a Windows Vista system is always in a Local Genuine condition. A
system is never marked Non-Genuine until after it fails validation through the
online WGA service, and received a Non-Genuine ticket. Likewise, after a system
has a Non-Genuine status, it must successfully validate through the WGA service to
receive a Genuine ticket.
While it is necessary for a system to be activated to be considered Genuine, the
process of activation does not reset or clear a previous Non-Genuine status. As a
result, to return a system to a fully functional activated condition, it must be both
activated and then validated against the WGA service.
Notification
The purpose of the notifications-based experience is to differentiate between a
genuine and activated copy of Windows Vista and one that is not, and do so in a
way that maintains system functionality such as logon, access to the familiar
desktop etc. RFM has been removed from the product and replaced with a
notifications-based experience. This new notification experience means that
systems that are not activated during their grace periods (initial activations as well
as those due to hardware changes) or that fail our validation may have this
experience. The behavior of a system in the notification condition is similar to one
that is in the activated condition, with the following exceptions:
•
Upon interactive logon, a dialog box appears indicating that the system is not
activated. The dialog box also provides a list of actions that can be taken, such as
activation with a product key or online validation. This dialog box can delay a logon
for 15 seconds or up to two minutes. Non-interactive logon is unaffected.
•
The desktop background is set to black.
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•
Every hour a notification appears, through a task bar balloon, reminding the
user of the notification condition. If the background is changed, it is reset to black
when the notification appears.
Three specific features are also disabled in the notification condition:
•
A KMS host cannot activate or renew KMS clients or other KMS hosts.
•
Windows Update installs only critical updates.
•
Optional downloads marked as Genuine Only are not available.
You must activate a system for it to leave the notification condition.
Unlicensed/Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM)
Systems running Windows Vista (prior to SP1) that are not activated within the
grace period change to an unlicensed/RFM condition. RFM can affect computers
running the initial release of Windows Vista. Windows Vista SP1 and Windows
Server 2008 do not have an unlicensed/RFM condition. With RFM, users are still
able to use most Windows features. Users can access files, run scripts, manage the
computer using WMI, change product keys, activate remotely, and log on with
default browser access. However, the user may need to restart the computer in
Safe Mode to access or back up personal data and applications. The user logon is
limited to one-hour sessions with no access to the Start Menu, Task Manager,
remote desktop or printing services. Additionally, all Genuine Only features are
disabled.
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Volume Activation 2.0 Planning Guide