Sunday, 21 June 2015

Microsoft Product Licensing and Volume Activation

What is volume activation?

Volume activation is an authentication process that assures that your software copy is genuine. Activation is part of deployment and a core piece of the planning stage for Windows client and server operating systems and Office applications.

Licensed products:
  • Windows Server OS
  • Windows Client OS
  • Microsoft Office family of products

Activation methods:

  • Online (requires an active Internet connection)
  • By phone (can be used when there is no Internet connection)

License types:

  • Retail - the software is purchased "off the shelf" from a retailer and you install it yourself. The license key is included on the back of the product's CD/DVD packaging.
  • Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) - the software comes pre-installed on the device. A copy of the software is included along with the product key.
  • Volume licensing - you download the software and install it on company owned equipment based on an agreement with Microsoft for a set number of units. There are a number of different activation options available, as stated below:


  • Client Machine IDs (CMIDs)
  • Generic Volume License Key (GVLK)
  • Key Management Service (KMS)
  • Multiple Activation Key (MAK)
  • Volume License Service Center (VLSC)

Volume licensing activation options:

Volume licensing tools:

DNS Publishing of KMS server:
  • Creates a SRV (service) RR (resource record) called "_VLMCS" located in DNS Forward Lookup Zones\DomainFQND\_tcp
  • Disable DNS publishing: slmgr.vbs /cdns
  • Enable DNS publishing: slmgr.vbs /sdns
  • Registry: Create a new DWORD value called "DisableDnsPublishing" and set it's value to 1 -  "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SoftwareProtectionPlatform"
  • Publish to multiple DNS Domains: Create a new multi-string value "DnsDomainPublishList" in "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SoftwareProtectionPlatform" which contains the DNS domain suffixes of each domain.
  • Restart Software Licensing service (SLsvc) or Software Protection service (sppsvc) on host
  • Locate your KMS server: nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp

Configuration defaults:

  • Volume license activation interval: 2 hours
  • Volume license renewal interval: 7 days
  • Volume activation expiration: 180 days
  • KMS Host protocol & port: TCP 1688

Volume licensing guides:

Errors and troubleshooting:

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