Implementing MAK Activation

Organizations that have fewer than 25 active Windows Vista systems or that have small, remote offices or traveling staff will want to use MAK activation for at least some of their Windows Vista systems. Systems activated with MAKs are permanently activated unless significant modifications are made to system components.

On This Page

Obtaining MAKs Obtaining MAKs
Managing MAKs Managing MAKs
Obtaining Additional MAK Activations Obtaining Additional MAK Activations
Assigning MAKs to Windows Vista Systems Assigning MAKs to Windows Vista Systems

Obtaining MAKs

Organizations that participate in one of Microsoft’s volume license plans can obtain MAKs. Web sites such as eOpen at, Microsoft Volume License Services (MVLS) at, and MSDN at can be used to register new licenses and obtain product keys. These keys can then be used to complete system installations. MAKs can be automatically applied to systems after installation, before imaging, or after imaging. Windows Vista includes scripts that team members can use to manage MAK installation and activation. A MAK cannot be specified during setup or added through an offline process; it must be installed from within the operating system.

Note   It is important to remember that entering the MAK does not activate Windows Vista automatically. By default, a computer attempts to automatically activate online after installing a MAK. If the computer does not have a consistent Internet connection, then the system must be manually activated by making an online connection to Microsoft’s activation system or by telephone.

Managing MAKs

Administrators can view MAKs in the appropriate online portal (MVLS, eOpen, or MSDN). Administrators can view the number of activations against each key and get a report of the number of activated systems under management. This number rises as systems are re-imaged and should be monitored to help ensure adequate activations remain to support the organization.

Obtaining Additional MAK Activations

As the number of available activations becomes depleted, team members can request additional activations through the appropriate online licensing portal or by telephone.

Assigning MAKs to Windows Vista Systems

MAKs are essentially multiple-use product activation keys. Each system upon which a MAK is used contacts Microsoft activation servers on the Internet and uses the key to obtain activation. Assign MAKs after installation of the operating system, either manually or through scripting.

Note   Microsoft is developing the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) to enable centralized MAK deployment activation. The final version of BDD 2007 documentation will contain updated information.

Manually Assigning MAKs

One way to assign a MAK to a Windows Vista system is through the System Properties property sheet.

To manually enter a MAK using the System Properties property sheet

  1. Click Start, right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.

  2. In the System Properties property sheet, click Change Product Key to open the Windows Activation dialog box, shown in Figure 1.

Note If necessary, click Allow at the Windows Security prompt to display the Windows Activation dialog box.

[![Figure 1. Entering a new MAK in Windows Vista](images/Bb490213.SE_VolmActv01(en-us,TechNet.10).gif)](\(en-us,technet.10\).gif)

**Figure 1. Entering a new MAK in Windows Vista**
  1. In the Product Key box, type the product key; then, click Next to store and activate the MAK.

Automating MAK Assignment

Teams can also assign MAKs by using the Slmgr.vbs script included with Windows Vista. This script supports several options and is used for everything from adding, changing, and removing product keys to activating a KMS host.

To install a MAK using Slmgr.vbs

  1. Execute Slmgr.vbs with the -ipk option using the following command, where MAK is the Multiple Activation Key:

    cscript C:\Windows\System32\Slmgr.vbs -ipk MAK
  2. To force immediate activation of Windows on a computer with Internet connectivity using the new MAK, issue the following command:

    cscript C:\Windows\System32\Slmgr.vbs -ato

    Note   The above code examples assume that Windows Vista is installed in the C:\Windows folder. Other Slmgr.vbs options let users obtain the IID and install the CID used with telephone activation.

    Note   For more information about the Windows Vista Privacy Statement, see

MAK Integration with the Deployment Workbench

The Deployment Workbench runs the Windows Installation Wizard to apply MAKs during client setup. The reference image can be prepared for KMS activation and activated using a MAK if it will not be used within the KMS infrastructure. The automated MAK application is executed after computer imaging. For more information on automating volume activation using BDD 2007, see “Appendix E: BDD Automation.”

Volume Activation Management Tool

The tool codenamed “Volume Activation Management Tool” is under development to make it easier for IT professionals to distribute MAKs from a centralized console and to activate multiple target computers.

VAMT supports MAK activation in two ways:

  • MAK independent activation. Many environments maintain a single system image for deployment across the enterprise. MAK independent activation enables an IT professional to distribute a MAK key to one or more connected computers within a network and to optionally instruct those computers to activate over the Internet immediately.

  • MAK proxy activation. This activation method is designed for environments that preclude direct access to the Internet—such as financial and government networks where the only current method of activation is phone activation. MAK proxy activation enables customers to acquire and send a list of system IIDs to the Microsoft clearinghouse. The proxy retrieves the corresponding CIDs from the Clearinghouse and distributes them to the clients. This method even allows activation in cases where the IID and CID lists must be transported by disk or other medium to an Internet-enabled system.

    Note   Microsoft is developing the VAMT to enable centralized MAK activation.

Note   For more information about the Windows Vista Privacy Statement, see

Figure 2. The VAMT infrastructure

Figure 2. The VAMT infrastructure

In Figure 2, a VAMT infrastructure has been installed to manage MAK activation. Computers in each location are activated as follows:

  • Headquarters. Dedicated VAMTs at Headquarters discover clients and configure them with MAKs. Headquarters clients then use MAK independent activation to contact the Microsoft Clearinghouse to activate.

  • Site A. A desktop computer running the VAMT discovers and distributes MAKs to clients on this remote network. The clients then use MAK independent activation to activate.

  • Site B. Desktop computers in sites connected to Headquarters can use the resources of the Headquarters VAMT hosts. If those computers do not have connectivity to the Microsoft clearinghouse, the VAMTs can use MAK proxy activation to relay the activation to the clearinghouse.

  • Site C. Isolated sites can use a local VAMT to collect activation requests, forwarding them on removable media to an Internet-connected VAMT host. Activation responses can then be transported back to the isolated site and relayed to the client systems.


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