"billb" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> We have been provided with a volume license key for Vista Business as a
> partner. How do I know if this is a MAK or KMS volume license key? It
> be difficult for our organization to keep 25 vista computers connected to
> KMS service at this time. Is the key uniquie in that it only can be used
> MAK or KMS, or can it be used for both?
If you plan to be activating your system by letting them connect to Mother
Microsoft's activation servers, you put the MAK key on each one (either by
an unattend script or manually after the system is installed). The key
that's built into the Vista distribution disk isn't valid for normal
If you use volume license media and plan to be activating via a KMS, you
don't enter any product key at the client. The KMS key is used only to set
up the KMS box; once that is done (and at least 25 real (not virtual) Vista
boxes have asked for activation) the KMS will activate any volume licensed
copy that hasn't had a MAK key entered.
The KMS and MAK keys are not the same. Additionally, the KMS key will permit
only a very limited number of activations since it's intended only for use
with a KMS; the MAK will have a number of activations based on your license
As for timing, a KMS activation is good for 210 days: 180 days of "clean"
activation, plus 30 days of grace period. Once a box is activated, at some
later time (30 days?) it starts quietly looking for a KMS box, so as long as
your systems are booted while attached to the network that has the KMS box[*] within a 6-month period you should be in good shape.
[*] I've not seen it documented, but some experimentation shows that the
search for the SRV record via DNS is apparently occurring only at boot time.
If the machine isn't connected to the network with the KMS box when it's
booted -- for example, if it connects via a VPN -- you'll need to use the
SLMGR.VBS command to hard-code the hostname of the KMS box.