License Management

Applies To: Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003

Product IDs (PIDs), also called license keys, are product identification used for authorization and activation. When modifying a Remote Installation Services (RIS) installation image, the compute cluster administrator must provide a valid license key in order that each node configured with this key can be authorized for use. If your organization uses volume licensing, one PID can be used for as many computers as the license agreement authorizes. Organizations that have retail versions of a supported operating system must either modify the RIS image by adding a valid license key each time the cluster administrator wants to add a new node, or create separate images, each with a valid license key.

Beta license keys

Beta customers of Microsoft® Windows® Compute Cluster Server 2003 will obtain this product either from the Internet or on CD-ROM.

If you obtain your copy through Internet distribution, you can also obtain your beta license key from the Microsoft Connect Web site ( If you obtain your copy on CD-ROM, the beta license key will be on the CD-ROM package cover.

Each beta license key can be used to install and activate up to 30 compute nodes. Activation can be done remotely running an activation script.


MSDN is licensed to individual developers. The customer gets one product key for up to 10 computers. Activation is required.

MSDNA (Academic) is sold to departments within accredited educational institutions (high school and up). The customer gets a Volume License product key (VLK) and no activation is required.

Volume License Agreement

Volume License Agreements are used by medium, large, or enterprise organizations. A Microsoft Volume License Agreement can be an Open License, Select License, or Enterprise License Agreement. The customer receives one license key which can used to deploy as many computers as needed, up to the limit specified in the agreement. No activation is required for each installation.

System Locked Preinstallation

Used by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), System Locked Preinstallation (SLP) uses information stored in the computer BIOS to protect each installation from casual copying. No communication by the end customer to Microsoft is required. At system startup, the operating system compares the computer's BIOS to the SLP information. If it matches, no activation is required.

Retail licensing

When organizations purchase a copy of an operating system that is supported by the Compute Cluster Pack, through a retail channel, the customer gets an individual product key for each copy. The customer then has to activate Windows after successfully installing the operating system on the computer. However, if the same PID is used to deploy another computer, activation will fail. No retail keys exist for the Beta version of Windows Server 2003, Compute Cluster Edition. But in the case where the cluster administrator has preinstalled an operating system on a node (adding a node manually), the operating system must be activated.

Node sequencing (retail only)

When you are using retail operating systems for your nodes, the sequence in which you reimage the nodes is important. To illustrate, suppose that you want to reimage two nodes named Node01 and Node02. Node01 was originally configured with an operating system license key of PID 1. Node02 had an operating system with PID 2 installed. Windows Product Authorization authenticated PID 1 to the specific physical computer Node01, and PID 2 was authenticated to the specific physical computer Node02.

Now when you reimage both nodes, if you reimage Node01 with an image that has PID 2, because that license was originally authenticated to another computer, authorization will fail. As a result, if you are using individual retail products, you must install the same image on each node that was originally installed on that specific node. You do this by modifying a RIS image with the correct Product ID (license key) and installing that modified image on the specific computer on which the product was originally installed. For a large numbers of reimaged nodes, a more efficient method exists — using the file Unique.udb.

Using the unique.udb file

If the Unique.udb file exists, RIS uses it instead of Unattended.txt. By creating this file, you can match a specific node name with a specific Product ID. Then when you reimage a compute node, no matter what the new node name is, a specific Product ID is attached to a specific node name and Windows Product Authorization will succeed.

You can match node and PID by using a file called Unique.udb. This file must exist in D:\RemoteINstall\Setup\<language>\Images\"Image Name"\amd64\templates. The format for the file is as follows:

Nodename01 = UserData
Nodename02 = UserData
Nodename03 = UserData


A typical Product ID looks like XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXX, where X is either a letter or number.


The order in which nodes with retail licenses are rebooted is important. Nodes should be rebooted during RIS reimaging in the order that they were originally imaged.

Windows activation

After a compute node is successfully installed and added to the cluster, the cluster administrator must activate Windows. Windows activation relies on Internet connectivity, so the cluster administrator should ensure that proxy configuration (if necessary) is finished and that all nodes have Internet access.


Beta customers of Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 will need to activate Windows. However, if you license a supported operating system through one of the Microsoft volume licensing programs, such as Open License, Select License, or Enterprise Agreement, you are not required to activate those licenses.

The following script can be submitted to the Job Scheduler as a job sent to all nodes in order to activate Windows:

strComputer = "."
Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:" _
    & "{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!\\" & strComputer & "\root\cimv2")

Set colWindowsProducts = objWMIService.ExecQuery _
    ("Select * from Win32_WindowsProductActivation")

For Each objWindowsProduct in colWindowsProducts

You can also get this script on the Web at Activate Windows Online (

See Also


Reimaging Compute Nodes
Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 Deployment