Volume Activation Tips and Tricks

SGT Oddball

Vista Guru
Hi again, I’m Ted Way, program manager for Office 2010 volume activation. Last time I posted to this blog, I talked about KMS and MAK as two activation methods for the enterprise. If you’re planning on deploying Office 2010, Windows (7, Vista, Server 2008 R2, Server 2008), or a combination of these, you’ll be happy to know that the activation technologies are essentially the same. The same KMS host running on Windows Server 2008 R2, volume editions of Windows 7, or Windows Server 2003 can activate both Windows and Office, for example.

In this post I’ll show screenshots of the end-user experience if activation was not successful. In addition, I’ll share some tips and tricks on how to manage your volume editions of Office and activation so your time can be spent on checking out all the cool new features in Office 2010. Your end-user does not need to know anything about activation because everything is happening behind-the-scenes.

End-User Notification Experience

For volume editions of Office, users will not see any reminders to activate the first 25 days after installation. However, if activation is not successful, then users will see notification dialogs every time they launch an Office application from day 25 to 30 post-installation. An example of these notification dialogs is shown below. If the user closes the dialog, he or she will still be able to fully use all the features in Office.

If Office still has not been activated 30 days after installation, users will see notification dialogs every time an Office application is started. In addition, the title bar color will change to red as shown below. These visual indicators serve as reminders that users need to activate.

Going to the Backstage view by clicking File tab | Help will be the quickest way to check licensing status:

If you’re using volume editions of Office 2010 Beta and you haven’t activated, take a look at this page for help.

How to Quickly Set Up a KMS Host

If users are seeing the above notifications to activate, you can set up a KMS host in just minutes by following the directions on the KMS host set up page. Once the KMS host is set up, the KMS clients automatically find the host on DNS and activate themselves against it. This is transparent to the end-user.

Sanjay Garg, a developer of the Office Software Protection Platform focused on enterprise licensing, suggests, “Once a KMS host is activated, make sure you allow the Key Management Service through the Windows Firewall. That way the KMS client requests can get through to the KMS host.”

How do you know whether your KMS host has been successfully activated? On your KMS host computer, open an elevated command prompt and run this command in the Windows\system32 directory.

C:\WINDOWS\system32>cscript slmgr.vbs /dli

You should see the output below. Note the “Licensed” status, meaning you’ve activated your KMS host. When the “Current count” >= 5, then KMS clients will begin activating the next time they request activation.

Name: Office(TM) 14, Beta1ProPlusKMSHost edition
Description: Office(TM) 14 KMS, VOLUME_KMS channel
Partial Product Key: TCDMC
License Status: Licensed
Key Management Service is enabled on this machine
Current count: 6
Listening on Port: 1688
DNS publishing enabled
KMS priority: Normal

Here at Microsoft we have an internal KMS host running on a Windows Server 2008 R2 VM. If you are running Windows Server 2008, consider using a VM of Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2003 as your KMS host. The Microsoft KMS host is handling all of our internal Windows AND Office 2010 activation requests. Since the host was set up earlier this year, it’s received 250,000 initial activation requests and 135,000 re-activation requests from licensed Office KMS clients. It’s also received and processed hundreds of thousands of additional requests for Windows client and server activation.

An administrator in Microsoft IT shared his experience: “We configure the server to auto publish in all the internal domains via reg key and we secure the _vlmcs._tcp DNS record in all domains by only allowing a specific security group to update it. We add the KMS servers to the security group as part of the standard KMS build process. Also part of the standard KMS build process we request an IPsec exemption for the servers, because we allow our unmanaged clients (labs, non-domain joined, etc) to activate.”


This handy script is helpful for performing local and remote licensing operations for Microsoft Office 2010. You can find it in the “%ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office\Office14” folder.  For 32-bit installs of Office on 64-bit operating systems, look for it under the “Program Files (x86)” folder. Keep in mind ospp.vbs is the script to configure the Office 2010 client, while slmgr.vbs is used to configure the KMS host and Windows installations.

To run this script, open an elevated command prompt by clicking the Start button and searching for “cmd” in the search box. Right click on the command prompt window and select “Run as administrator.” Go to the directory with this command:

cd “%ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office\Office14”

You can see the options that are available by typing:

cscript ospp.vbs -?

Richard Moloney, the developer of this script, says a useful benefit after setting up a KMS host is using the -act and -dhistory commands to verify the Office client is finding the KMS host and successfully activating. He suggests, “If you’re setting up a KMS host, you can manually trigger and verify successful activation. You don’t need to wait 25 days until notification dialogs start popping up to start troubleshooting.”

Trigger activation and view the KMS activation history by running:

cscript ospp.vbs –act
cscript ospp.vbs –dhistory

For MAK activation, one common task would be to check the status of your computer, install a Professional Plus Beta MAK key, and trigger activation. Run these commands (if you’re pasting these commands, you may need to change the long dash to a short dash). In this example, note that when you run the –act command, you’ll be triggering MAK activation, which goes to Microsoft’s activation servers, not your KMS host.

cscript ospp.vbs –dstatus
cscript ospp.vbs –inpkey:22HGX-728MX-BBWX9-7BB8X-J96B4
cscript ospp.vbs –act
cscript ospp.vbs –dstatus

What if you got an error code?  You can easily get the error description with this command specifying the error code:

cscript ospp.vbs –ddescr:0xC0020017

You can even run this script to check the status or trigger activation of a remote computer. Just provide the computer name and login credentials:

cscript ospp.vbs –act

This brings me to the next section: how would you remotely manage and activate multiple computers quickly?

Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) 2.0 Beta

To remotely manage volume editions of Windows and Office 2010 in your organization using a GUI tool, download VAMT 2.0 Beta. VAMT 2.0 allows you to get an overview of the licensing status of both Windows and Office 2010 installations.

For VAMT 2.0 to manage client computers, make sure you make an exception for the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) on the client computers. Go to Control Panel –> Windows Firewall -> Allow a program through Windows Firewall. If you are managing Windows XP machines running Office 2010, see this article for more information. I’ve included a screenshot of VAMT 2.0 with my two computers:

I can monitor my desktop and laptop, in addition to any other machines I have access to. Both have Windows Vista and Office 2010 applications installed. Under “Product Key Type,” GVLK is the generic volume license key, which is the KMS client key. On my laptop, I have the MAK key installed from the activation page.

If I right click on my computer name, I can install product keys, trigger activation, or even do proxy activation through VAMT 2.0. Proxy activation is a method of activating multiple machines with Office 2010 that have a MAK key installed. This would be helpful for computer networks that are not connected to the Internet, or if you want to MAK activate multiple machines at once for your sales team, for example.


If you have any questions, check out the Office 2010 Volume Activation resource center on TechNet. There’s a great video that gives an introduction to KMS and MAK along with more in-depth documentation.

If you have any specific questions, post it to our forum at http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/office2010volact/threads and our team will do our best to address them!