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Volume Activation 2.0 Changes for Windows Server® 2008 and Windows Vista® SP1

Microsoft Corporation

Published: March, 2008

Abstract

This document summarizes the changes to Volume Activation 2.0 for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista SP1, vs. Volume Activation 2.0 as implemented in the initial release of Windows Vista.

Table of Contents

Volume License Product Keys
Key Management Service (KMS) Activation
    Changes to KMS Activation Threshold
    Changes to How KMS Can Be Hosted
Multiple Activation Key (MAK) Activation and VAMT
Notifications vs. RFM
Activation Grace Periods and Re-arms

Volume License Product Keys

While there is no change to how you obtain your volume license product keys (visit the Volume License Service Center), product keys for KMS and MAK apply to product key groups rather than to individual operating system editions. There are three product key groups for Windows Server 2008, and one product key group for Windows Vista.

MAK and KMS keys function with product key groups in different ways, as illustrated by Figure 1 below. A MAK can only activate the Windows editions within its specific product group (i.e., MAKs have a lateral association with product key groups). A KMS key can activate the Windows editions within its specific product group as well as editions in “lower” product key groups (i.e., KMS keys have a hierarchical association with product key groups).  For example, a KMS host that is activated with a Server Group B KMS key can activate Windows Server 2008 Standard, Enterprise and Web editions, and Windows Vista editions as KMS clients.

Cc308698.VolumeActivation20ChangesforWindowsServer2008andWindowsVistaSP1_image001(en-us,TechNet.10).jpg
Figure 1. Product Key Groupings

The tables below illustrate each of the MAK and KMS keys, the product key groups they are assigned to, and which Windows editions can be activated with that key. Important Note:   The KMS key is used to activate only the KMS host.  The KMS host in turn activates the indicated Windows editions as KMS clients.

Product Key Group

MAK

Windows product editions activated by this MAK

Vista VL

MAK

·         Windows Vista Business

·         Windows Vista Enterprise

Server Group A

MAK_A

·         Windows Web Server 2008

Server Group B

MAK_B

·         Windows Server 2008 Standard

·         Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V

·         Windows Server 2008 Enterprise

·         Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V

Server Group C

MAK_C

·         Windows Server 2008 Datacenter

·         Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V

·         Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems

Table 1. MAK Product Keys

Product Key Group

KMS Key

KMS can be hosted on (KMS key activates KMS host)

Windows product editions activated by this KMS Host

Vista VL

KMS

·         Windows Vista

·         KMS for Windows Server 2003 v1.0 or v1.1

·         Windows Vista Business

·         Windows Vista Enterprise

Server Group A

KMS_A

·         Windows Web Server 2008

·         KMS for Windows Server 2003 v1.1

·         Windows Web Server 2008

·         Vista VL

Server Group B

KMS_B

·         Windows Web Server 2008

·         Windows Server 2008 Standard

·         Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V

·         Windows Server 2008 Enterprise

·         Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V

·         KMS for Windows Server 2003 v1.1

·         Windows Server 2008 Standard

·         Windows Server 2008 Enterprise

·         Server Group A

·         Vista VL

Server Group C

KMS_C

·         Windows Web Server 2008

·         Windows Server 2008 Standard

·         Windows Server 2008 Enterprise

·         Windows Server 2008 Datacenter

·         Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V

·         Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems

·         KMS for Windows Server 2003 v1.1

·         Windows Server 2008 Datacenter

·         Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems

·         Server Group B

·         Server Group A

·         Vista VL

Table 2. KMS Product Keys

Key Management Service (KMS) Activation

This section covers changes to the Key Management Service.

Changes to KMS Activation Threshold

KMS requires a minimum number of physical computers in a network environment, called the activation threshold, to activate KMS client machines. The activation threshold for Windows Vista remains at twenty-five (25) physical computers. However the activation threshold for Windows Server 2008 is five (5) physical computers.

To ensure that the activation threshold is met, a KMS host counts the number of physical KMS client computers requesting activation on the network. It responds to each requesting computer with the current count. This count of activation requests is a combination of both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 computers. KMS clients activate only after the corresponding activation threshold is met – a count of 5 for Windows Server 2008, and a count of 25 for Windows Vista. KMS can activate both physical and virtual computers, once the threshold of physical computers is met.

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 increase the activation count. None of these systems activate since Windows Vista computers must receive an activation count that is 25 or greater to activate.

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.

Changes to How KMS Can Be Hosted

KMS hosted on a Windows Vista machine can activate only Windows Vista KMS clients; it cannot activate any editions of Windows Server 2008 as KMS clients. If you are now using KMS to activate Windows Vista clients in your environment, and you would like to also activate Windows Server 2008 KMS clients, you will need to install KMS on a new host. You can install KMS either on Windows Server 2003 using KMS for Windows Server 2003 v1.1 (release March 5, 2008 in English; other languages released in March/April 2008 timeframe) or on Windows Server 2008 (released, or RTM, version), and then activate the new KMS host with a new KMS key. This will reset the KMS activation count to zero.  The Windows Server 2008 editions that can be activated by the KMS host depends on the KMS key that you install on the KMS host. You will need to activate this KMS host with Microsoft® before the host can begin accepting activation requests from KMS clients.

KMS for Windows Server 2003 v1.0 will activate only Windows Vista RTM and Windows Vista SP1 KMS clients. If you are hosting KMS on Windows Server 2003 to activate Windows Vista clients in your environment, and you would like to also activate Windows Server 2008 KMS clients using the same KMS host, you will need to install KMS for Windows Server 2003 v1.1 on that KMS host, install a new KMS key and then activate the KMS host with Microsoft.

Alternatively, you can upgrade an existing Windows Server 2003 KMS host running KMS on Windows Server 2003 v1.0 to a KMS host on Windows Server 2008. You will need to uninstall KMS on Windows Server 2003 v1.0, and then upgrade the operating system. Next, install the new KMS key and activate the host with Microsoft. This will reset the KMS activation count to zero.

You also can install KMS on a new Windows Server 2008 RTM machine, then install the KMS key and activate the new KMS host with Microsoft. This KMS host will activate Windows Vista RTM/SP1 KMS clients as well as Windows Server 2008 KMS clients in your environment, depending on the KMS key you installed on the KMS host.

KMS can be hosted on a virtual machine running Windows Vista RTM, Windows Vista SP1, Windows Server 2008 RTM, or Windows Server 2003 running KMS for Windows Server 2003 v1.1.

Multiple Activation Key (MAK) Activation and VAMT

If you are using the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) to MAK-activate systems in your environment and you now want to MAK-activate Windows Server 2008 systems, VAMT v1.1 is required (VAMT v1.1 to be released in April 2008). You will need to use new Multiple Activation Keys (MAKs) to activate Windows Server 2008 systems, whether you are using MAK Proxy Activation or MAK Independent Activation.

The VAMT v1.1 update enables you to perform MAK Proxy Activation and MAK Independent Activation for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 computers. Additional functionality in this update includes the ability to obtain the remaining activation count for MAK product keys; the ability to convert a MAK-activated computer to a KMS client; the ability to reapply a Confirmation ID, enabling one-click reactivation of computers using previously saved VAMT data; the ability to display error descriptions in tooltips; and improvements to the tool usability.

Notifications vs. RFM

Microsoft introduced a new notifications-based experience with Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 to differentiate between a genuine and activated copy of Windows and one that is not, and does so in a way that maintains system functionality such as logon, access to the familiar desktop, etc.  Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM) has been removed from Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 and replaced with a notifications-based experience. If Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 systems are not activated within the Initial Grace period or an Out of Tolerance Grace period, persistent notifications will alert users of the need to activate.  While in the notification condition, the system will function normally, with these exceptions:

  • The desktop background is black
  • A KMS host cannot activate or renew KMS clients
  • Windows® Update installs only critical updates; optional downloads marked as Genuine Only are not available

Activation Grace Periods and Re-arms

All grace periods for all editions and channels (Retail, OEM/System Builder and Volume License) of Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Vista RTM are 30 days. All editions of Windows Vista can be re-armed up to three times with the exception of Windows Vista Enterprise SP1 which can be re-armed up to five times.

The initial grace period for Windows Server 2008 RTM is 60 days for all editions and channels (Retail, OEM/System Builder and Volume License).  However, the Out of Tolerance Grace period is 30 days. All editions of Windows Server 2008 RTM can be re-armed up to three times.

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