In the past couple of months, as I have been dealing with the deployment of Windows 7 at the district, and the recent decision to move forward with the deployment of Office 2010, in addition to Server 2008, i’ve had the pleasure misfortune of having to figure out KMS activation for the enterprise.

After tons of reading, confusion, and conflicting messages from Microsoft engineers, and Microsoft reps, I finally got the KMS licensing under control, and to save any one from having to go through this bad experience, I decided to put together a simplified, (perhaps not fully exhaustive), but complete enough to get one started with a functional KMS activation server.

In this article, the following questions will be answered, in no particular order:

  1. Can a KMS server activate multiple products from one service?
  2. Can a KMS server contain multiple keys for activation?
  3. Can Microsoft Office 2010 get activated with the KMS service?
  4. Can licenses be converted from MAK to KMS licenses? if so, how?

Microsoft Product Activations

Overview

Starting with Windows Vista, the VLK key system no longer applies, and there is a new KMS and MAK system that need to apply.
Activation for Windows 7/Windows 2008/R2 are different than the MS Office 2010 activation.
The The advantage for KMS keys are as follows:

  • They can be tracked from a central management console. (Volume Activation Management Tool)
  • They can be activated, changed to a MAK, or deactivated in bulk from the console
  • No keys are required to be entered by the user, or in the image.
  • The existence of the key is reliant on the existence of a DNS special SRV record which broadcasts its presense to all clients on the network.

Microsoft Windows Family

For activating Windows via KMS, a KMS host service needs to be installed. (only if running the service on Windows 2003 R2). Windows 2008 R2 already has the service installed, and all is required is the installation of the KMS keys.

MS Windows Server Configuration

    • Install the KMS service on Windows 2003 R2 Server
    • Install the initial KMS Service Windows 2003 KMS Host Service , then reboot the server.
    • Install the update to KMS Host 1.2  — Windows 2003 KMS Host Update 1.
    • Install the KMS Key that will work to activate Windows 2008 Server Standard/Enterprise/R2 and Windows 7. Under the Microsoft Licensing site, this is the key that ends with K92G3

slmgr.vbs /ipk

    • Activate the key on the KMS server

cscript slmgr.vbs /ato

activating the key on the server is very important, even if the server is Windows 2003 Server

    • Now the KMS Service is active, and functional. To check the status of the service, run:

cscript slmgr.vbs /dlv

The output will be something like this:

Name: Windows(TM) Server 2003 KMS, W7R2-Kms3 edition
Description: Windows(TM) Server 2003 KMS, VOLUME_KMS_R2_B channel
Activation ID: c99b641f-c4ea-4e63-bec3-5ed2ccd0f357
Application ID: 55c92734-d682-4d71-983e-d6ec3f16059f
Extended PID: 55041-00168-312-982967-03-1033-3790.0000-2802010
Installation ID: 003383086366718623586984734062161664073816906355861605
Processor Certificate URL: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78937
Machine Certificate URL: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78938
Use License URL: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78940
Product Key Certificate URL: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78939
Partial Product Key: K92G3
License Status: Licensed
Key Management Service is enabled on this machine
Current count: 40
Listening on Port: 1688
DNS publishing enabled
KMS priority: Normal

The current count will usually start from 0, and the minimum number of clients that need to be activated is 25. meanwhile, activating a client, will appear to fail, though, though everytime a client activated, the “Current count” will increase by 1. Once the current count reaches 25, the pending client activations will process, and the activation will successfully complete.

Clients that originally were brought into the environment will check in with the KMS server every 2 hours until a KMS server is found and activation completes.
Activated clients will have to revalidate their activation every 180 days. failing to do that, they will fall into a 30 day grace period before they get bumped into reduced functionality.

DNS Publishing is enabled, which means that clients will automatically discover the KMS server location. This is specified by the DNS record: _VLMCS, which listens on port 1688, and can be found in DNS in /_tcp

Client Configuration

There is not much to do with the client configuration, but for troubeshooting, a client can be forced to activate with the KMS server by issuing the following command:

cscript slmgr.vbs /ato

To check the status of a client activation, the “My Computer” Properties can be opened, and the Windows activation will show on the bottom of the window.
otherwise, the following command can be issued:

cscript slmgr.vbs /dli

Clients can be modified and tracked in bulk with the Volume Activation Management Tool 2.0

Microsoft Office 2010

Office 2010 has a separate activation process with its own KMS key, which is the only other KMS key that can co-exist with a Windows key on a KMS host.

Office 2010 KMS Server Configuration

To start, an addon install needs to be added to the existing KMS Host setup. It’s called the Microsoft Office 2010 KMS Host License Pack After this is installed, it will prompt for adding the Microsoft Office 2010 KMS key. This key is the one that ends with 4VMF8. Once added, issue the command.

cscript slmgr.vbs -dlv

and the following will show up:

C:\WINDOWS\system32>cscript slmgr.vbs /dlv
Microsoft (R) Windows Script Host Version 5.6
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation 1996-2001. All rights reserved.
Software licensing service version: 6.0.6001.16550
Name: Office(TM) 14, ProPlusKMSHost edition
Description: Office(TM) 14 KMS, VOLUME_KMS channel
Activation ID: bfe7a195-4f8f-4f0b-a622-cf13c7d16864
Application ID: 59a52881-a989-479d-af46-f275c6370663
Extended PID: 55041-00096-199-008129-03-1033-3790.0000-2802010
Installation ID: 013020452976886815845562333155080061308004322553491980
Processor Certificate URL: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78937
Machine Certificate URL: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78938
Use License URL: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78940
Product Key Certificate URL: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78939
Partial Product Key: 4VMF8
License Status: Licensed
Key Management Service is enabled on this machine
Current count: 5
Listening on Port: 1688
DNS publishing enabled
KMS priority: Normal
Name: Windows(TM) Server 2003 KMS, W7R2-Kms3 edition
Description: Windows(TM) Server 2003 KMS, VOLUME_KMS_R2_B channel
Activation ID: c99b641f-c4ea-4e63-bec3-5ed2ccd0f357
Application ID: 55c92734-d682-4d71-983e-d6ec3f16059f
Extended PID: 55041-00168-312-982967-03-1033-3790.0000-2802010
Installation ID: 003383086366718623586984734062161664073816906355861605
Processor Certificate URL: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78937
Machine Certificate URL: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78938
Use License URL: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78940
Product Key Certificate URL: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=78939
Partial Product Key: K92G3
License Status: Licensed
Key Management Service is enabled on this machine
Current count: 40
Listening on Port: 1688
DNS publishing enabled
KMS priority: Normal

Notice that the Office activation information will also show up now.
The minimum number of clients that need to be connected in this case is 5, before the Office 2010 KMS service activates with Microsoft servers.
The activation should also be automatic, using the same DNS entry as above, for all Office 2010 clients.
If needed, activation on the client itself can be triggered with the following command:

cscript C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Office\\Office14\\ospp.vbs /act

The status of an Office 2010 activation can be checked with the following command:

cscript C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Office\\Office14\\ospp.vbs /dstatus

Converting MAK to KMS, or KMS to KMS

Converting MAK keys to KMS is actually a very simple ordeal. However, getting the right information to be able to do it correctly is the real challenge. Here are the most important points that will allow you to do this very easily.

First, get the Volume Activation Management Tool 2.0 (VAMT)
Now, there are some important KMS keys that are generic client keys that need to be imported into the VAMT, which will take over activation an interim between MAK and KMS, or KMS and KMS.

The most important keys, I will note below, and the rest , can be found here and here

The keys

Windows 7 Professional: FJ82H-XT6CR-J8D7P-XQJJ2-GPDD4
Windows 2008 R2 Standard: YC6KT-GKW9T-YTKYR-T4X34-R7VHC
Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise: 489J6-VHDMP-X63PK-3K798-CPX3Y

Now, import these keys into VAMT, and scan your network for workstations/servers.
Once the workstations are found, right click on or more, then select “Install Product Key”, and select the appropriate license from the above keys.
Once the activation of the temporary key is successful, you can now right click on the same workstations/servers, and select Activate / KMS Activate…
If you have DNS publishing enabled, just click ok, and all the workstations and/or servers will get activated.
If the status in VAMT is “License Renewed” that means you’re golden. (MAK keys will show “Licensed”, not “License Renewed”)

Imaging

Like Windows Sysprep, Microsoft Office 2010 requires a rearm before imaging, in order to reset the CMID (Machine ID). If that is not reset before an image, the CMID will be the same for all subsequent installs, and the activation will fail for all but one deployment.

To rearm MS Office 2010

  1. Make sure all Office 2010 applications are closed.
  2. Open an elevated command prompt.
  3. Go to %installdir%\%Program Files%\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform. If you installed the 32-bit edition of Office 2010 on a 64-bit operating system, %Program Files% is the Program Files (x86) folder.
  4. Run ospprearm.exe. If you see a message that states success, you are ready for image capture.

Do not open an Office application, ospp.vbs, or anything related to Office 2010. Doing so starts the grace timer

Resources

Volume Activation 2.0 Deployment Guide
Deploy Volume Activation of Office 2010
Plan KMS Activation of Office 201
Configuring KMS Clients

So, to answer our original question: Is KMS Simple? as Microsoft so loudly claims? my answer is, I THINK NOT!

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