Using product keys in Visual Studio subscriptions

Visual Studio subscriptions provide access to a wide range of Microsoft products for designing, developing, testing, and demonstrating applications. Some of these products require product keys during installation, and some of those require activation.

Visual Studio subscriptions typically include five product keys for current versions of Windows and Office products, and three keys for older versions.

Most product keys also allow multiple activations of the product for each key. Many products also allow you to install and use the product for 30 days or more without activation. For most subscribers, this provides more than enough activations to meet their needs. However, if you have exhausted the available activations for a product, you can submit a request for additional keys through Visual Studio Subscriptions Customer Service.

Activating a product

Activation is required for certain products. Generally, in Visual Studio subscriptions this is limited to Windows, Windows Server, Microsoft Office client applications, and Expression Studio. When activation is required, many products — including Windows and Office — allow you to install and use the product without activation for 30 days or more. If you re-image your computers frequently (at least once every 30 days), consider NOT activating the product. Product keys supplied as part of your Visual Studio subscription do not allow unlimited activations of a product.

If you’ve claimed all the available product keys under your subscription and have used up all the available activations, you can request additional keys by contacting your local Visual Studio Subscription Customer Service Center. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If approved, product keys will be accessible in Downloads.

Retail and Volume Licensing versions of products

Visual Studio subscriptions offer a selection of retail and Volume Licensing versions of Microsoft products. Certain products are available from Downloads only in their retail version or only in their Volume Licensing version; some are available in both versions. Generally, products requiring activation, such as Windows, Windows Server, and Office client products, are only offered in their retail version through Downloads.

Volume Licensing customers can also download software from the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) to get Volume Licensing versions of products (and the corresponding product keys). Access to the VLSC is managed by designated administrators within the customer’s organization.

Daily product key claim limits

Microsoft is committed to protecting the integrity of the Visual Studio subscriptions program and the value of the software and benefits that the program’s legitimate subscribers receive for their investment. In support of this commitment, Microsoft has implemented daily key claim limits for Visual Studio subscriptions. Daily key claim limits restrict the number of keys that can be claimed per day per subscription.

The daily key claim limit is 10 keys for all Visual Studio subscriptions, including those offered through MPN, BizSpark, MCT Software & Services, and MCT, with the exception of Visual Studio Professional (MPN), which has a daily key claim limit of 7 keys.

Note: Key claim limits are subject to change. Please check here for the most up-to-date limits.

If you have claimed the maximum number of keys available for your subscription within a 24-hour period, you will see an error telling you that your limit has been reached. The limit resets every 24 hours, starting at 12:01 AM Pacific Time.

Our research shows that most subscribers are covered by the number of product keys included in their subscription. If you need additional keys, you can submit a request through Visual Studio Subscription Customer Service and it will be considered for approval on a case-by-case basis.

Accessing product keys

You must be signed in to your Visual Studio subscription to view your product keys. Individual product keys are found by selecting the blue Get Key link for a particular product on the Downloads page as shown below. When multiple keys exist for a single product, notes will be displayed on the Notes column for the download to assist you in identifying which key should be used.

Some products bundle multiple editions of the product into a single download. In these cases, the product key entered determines which edition of the product is installed. Some keys are provided automatically, such as “static” keys, which you can use as many times as needed because activation is not required. Other keys must be claimed by selecting the Get Key link for the product.

Get Key from Downloads Page

All keys are also available in aggregate on the Product Keys page. On this page you can find static keys that work for all users of a product, get custom keys just for your use, see the status of your key claim limits, and export all of your product keys.

Product Keys Page

A variety of key types are available, depending on the product.

Product key types

Key Type Description
Not Applicable No key is needed to install this product.
Retail Retail keys allow multiple activations and are used for retail builds of the product. In many cases, 10 activations are allowed per key, though often more are allowed on the same machine.
Multiple Activation A Multiple Activation Key (MAK) enables you to activate multiple installations of a product with the same key. MAKs are generally used with Volume Licensing versions of products. Typically, only one MAK key is provided per subscription.
Static Activation Key Static activation keys are provided for products that do not require activation. They can be used for any number of installations.
Custom Key Custom keys provide special actions or information to activate or install the product.
VA 1.0 These are multiple activation keys, similar to a MAK.
OEM Key These are Original Equipment Manufacturer keys that allow multiple activations.
DreamSpark Retail Key These retail keys are for DreamSpark and allow one activation. DreamSpark Retail keys are issued in batches and are primarily intended for student consumption.
DreamSpark Lab Key These lab use keys are for DreamSpark programs and allow multiple activations. DreamSpark Lab Keys are intended for use in university computer lab scenarios.
DreamSpark MAK Key These are MAK keys for DreamSpark program customers.

You can claim a key from the download page for the product, or you can search for the key you need on the Product Keys page.

Next steps

To claim keys, visit https://my.visualstudio.com/productkeys.
Learn how to find and claim keys. You can also learn about using product keys to support internet demonstrations.