OEM Activation

OEM activation uses the resources of the Microsoft OEM partner or system builder to activate each operating system as it is installed. OEMs can install images based on both OEM and volume-licensed media during the installation process. Most systems that OEMs sell include a standard build of Windows Vista pre-activated by the manufacturer. Additional scenarios present themselves for large companies that negotiate system imaging with the OEM. This guide presents these scenarios for completeness, but they have no bearing on BDD 2007 deployments, which are designed to use volume-licensed media and applications.

Drawbacks of OEM activations include reliance on the OEM for system imaging support and activation. Organizations that buy unloaded systems or that re-image systems on site will not benefit from OEM activation.

On This Page

Installing Volume-Licensed Images on OEM Systems Installing Volume-Licensed Images on OEM Systems
OEM Imaging of Volume Editions OEM Imaging of Volume Editions

Installing Volume-Licensed Images on OEM Systems

For KMS activation to work, clients obtained through the OEM channels that have an ACPI_SLIC table in the system BIOS are required to have a valid Windows marker in the same ACPI_SLIC table. The appearance of the Windows marker is important for volume license customers who are planning to use Windows Vista volume-licensed media to re-image or upgrade OEM through the re-imaging rights provided in their volume license agreement. Not having the appropriate BIOS marker results in the following error or errors on these systems and prevents them from activating using a KMS:

Error Code:

Invalid Volume License Key

In order to activate, you need to change your product key to a valid Multiple Activation Key (MAK) or Retail key.

You must have a qualifying operating system license AND a Volume license Windows Vista upgrade license, or a full license for Windows Vista from a retail source.


Error Code:



The Software Licensing Service reported that a license in the computer BIOS is invalid.

The options to resolve the above errors:

  • Use a MAK to activate the client.

  • Contact your OEM for a replacement motherboard that contains a valid Windows marker in the ACPI_SLIC table.

  • Purchase new systems with Microsoft Windows preinstalled to help ensure that a valid BIOS is installed in the system.

Note   Volume-licensed versions of Windows require upgrading from a qualifying operating system according to the terms of the volume licensing agreement.

OEM Imaging of Volume Editions

Organizations can choose to build a reference system using volume-licensed media. These images can be applied to target systems by the OEM; however, these systems require activation using either KMS or MAK methods.


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