Volume Activation 2.0 Frequently Asked Questions

Volume Activation 2.0

Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM)
Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT)
Additional Resources

Q. I’ve read the Volume Activation 2.0 guides. Where can I find support for my specific activation question?

A. General questions can be posted to the Public Windows Vista® newsgroups at http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/communities/newsgroups/en-us/default.mspx.


Q. If I suspect that my KMS key is leaked, can it be blocked from further activations?

A. Yes, you can work with Microsoft to block a KMS key. For more information contact your Activation Call Center. For a list of Activation Call Centers, go to http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=107418.


Q. What does a -1 count mean?

A. A count of -1 means that no clients have contacted the KMS host.


Q. What activation reports are included in the KMS Management Pack for Operations Manager 2005?

A. The KMS Management Pack provides the following reports:

  • Activation Count Summary
  • Virtual Machine Summary
  • KMS Activity Summary
  • Licensing Status Summary
  • Machine Expiration Chart
  • Machine Expiration Details


Q. Can I expose my KMS host to the Internet so my outside users can activate against it?

A. You are responsible for both the use of keys assigned to you and the activation of products using your KMS hosts. You should not disclose keys to non-Microsoft parties, and you must not provide unsecured access to your KMS over an uncontrolled network such as the Internet.


Q. What provisions are available for KMS host failover?

A. Multiple KMS hosts can be registered in DNS SRV resource records. If one KMS host is down, the KMS client computer will choose another from the list. If direct registration is used on the KMS client computer, you can use round-robin DNS or network load-balancing mechanisms (software or hardware) to increase KMS host availability.


Q. Do I need to back up the KMS service data?

A. You do not need to back up KMS service data. However, if you want a record of KMS activations, you could keep the KeyManagement Service log in the Applications and Services Logs folder to preserve activation history.


Q. If a KMS host fails, how do I restore a backup KMS host?

A. You only need to replace the failed KMS host with a new KMS host using the same configuration and ensure that its SRV resource record is added to DNS, if you are using DNS auto-discovery. The old SRV record is deleted eventually, if record scavenging is implemented for DNS, or you can delete it manually. The new KMS host then begins collecting renewal requests and KMS clients begin activating as soon as the KMS activation threshold is met.


Q. I perform routine cleanup of event logs. Will I lose the activation history stored in the event log?

A. Yes. If you use a cleanup tool, consider exporting data from the KeyManagement Service log in the Applications and Services Logs folder to archive activation history. You do not need to do this if you use the Operations Manager 2005 KMS Management Pack. This Management Pack collects event log data and stores it in the Operations Data Warehouse for reporting.


Q. Why don’t I see all options when running Slmgr.vbs?

A. The parameters available to Slmgr.vbs differ based on the installed product key. For example, a MAK-activated computer does not display or process the KMS-specific options.


Q. Many organizations block all ActiveX® as a security measure. Does VA 2.0 use ActiveX like Genuine Validation does?

A. Volume Activation does not use ActiveX. It uses WMI properties and methods. These are detailed in the Technical Attributes in Appendix 2 in the Volume Activation 2.0 Operations Guide.


Q. I inadvertently ran slmgr.vbs /ipk and installed a KMS key on several computers. How do I convert them back to KMS clients?

A. Run Slmgr.vbs /ipk <KMSSetupKey>. KMS setup keys are listed in the Volume Activation 2.0 Deployment Guide. These keys are publicly known and are edition-specific. Remember to delete any unnecessary SRV resource records from DNS and then restart the computers.

Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM)

Q. What is the difference between RFM and Notifications?

A. Under Reduced Functionality Mode (applicable only to systems running Windows Vista RTM build and pre-release versions of Windows Server 2008), the system can only be accessed under a restrictive mode with constrained capabilities when it is not properly activated within the grace period. Notification is the new experience (applies to systems running either Windows Vista SP1 or Windows Server 2008 RTM builds) that replaced RFM where the user receives clear, recurring reminders about activation if activation isn’t completed within the grace period.


Q. Is RFM removed from Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista?

A. Yes, there is no RFM in Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008. Both these releases rely on notifications to remind users about activation requirements.


Q. Will reduced functionality mode ever come back?

A. The current plan for Windows Server 2008 is to rely on notifications, a system that has worked effectively for us before. As we look to the future, we will continue to assess our program to meet the changing piracy threat. We know that notifications have been a powerful educational and engineering anti-piracy tool for us with Windows XP. However, as our anti-piracy program evolves in the future, we will continue to make decisions based on certain fundamental principles that underscore the importance of being fair, earning our customers’ confidence and trust, providing them with a great experience, and continuing to take into account governments’ special needs.


Q. Can I run the Slmgr.vbs script in Safe Mode?

A. No. Activation information is unavailable in Safe Mode.

Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT)

Q. The Error Code Lookup tool doesn’t show the content of an error returned by VAMT on Microsoft® Windows® XP or Windows Server 2003.

A. Volume Activation 2.0 errors are native to Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 operating systems. VAMT relies on the operating system to provide descriptive text for some error codes. This text is not available for Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 systems. To look up the text associated with such error codes, install VAMT on a computer running Windows Vista, or run SLUI 0x2A <error_code> at a command prompt on a computer running Windows Vista.

Q. Does VAMT require Internet access to function?

A. Certain operations available in VAMT require Internet access. These include retrieving the remaining MAK activations count, and the retrieve CID step in MAK Proxy activation. However, the majority of VAMT operations do not require Internet access.


Q. Does VAMT need to be activated to function?

A. The VAMT tool does not require activation.


Q. Can I run VAMT on a virtual machine?

A. Yes.


Q. Can KMS run on virtual machine?

A. Yes, KMS can run on a virtual machine with Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Server 2008.


Q. Will KMS for Windows Server 2003 activate my Windows Server 2003 or Windows XP Computers?

A. No. KMS is part of Volume Activation 2.0, which is only available on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 operating systems.


Q. Does the Language version of KMS for Windows Server 2003 need to match the Language version installed on the server?

A. Yes, the language versions of the operating system and the KMS for Windows Server 2003 must match. This requirement applies only to KMS for Windows Server 2003.

Additional Resources

While Volume Activation is meant to be simple to configure and manage, enterprise infrastructure and requirements are often complex and unique leaving the planners, implementers, and administrators in search of further information. In addition to the core set of documentation for Volume Activation 2.0, there are numerous other resources and tools available to assist you. For more information, see Volume Activation 2.0 Resources.