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The Role of Key Management Service Servers May 23, 2007

Posted by Ted Summers in : Technical , trackback

If you have worked in a Microsoft Environment for any length of time, then by now you may have heard of Volume Activation. Volume Activation is a method / technology used by Microsoft. It is their way of dealing with Volume Licensing issues.

Microsoft includes product activation technology in some products that are sold through original equipment manufacturer (OEM), retail, and Volume Licensing channels. To date there are two types of activations used by Microsoft.

Volume Activation 1.0 is the first generation of Volume License Keys (VLKs). These keys bypass product activation.

Volume Activation 2.0 Which is used with Windows Vista Business or Enterprise, and of which there are two types.

Multiple Activation Keys (MAK) activates either individual computers or a group of computers by connecting directly to Microsoft servers over the Internet. The keys can be used a limited number of times. This activation limit can be increased by calling your Microsoft Activation Center. When using this method you have two ways for activation.

This brings us to the title of our article. With Key Management Service Servers, Organization can host the Key Management Service (KMS) internally to automatically activate computers running Windows Vista. To use the KMS, you must have a minimum of 25 computers running Windows Vista that are connected together. Computers that have been activated through KMS will be required to reactivate by connecting to your organization’s network at least every six months.

The KMS software runs on a local computer running Windows Vista or the Microsoft Windows Server Code Name “Longhorn” operating system as a service. There is also now a download available for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 that allows it to be used as an KMS server.

So how does it work, you might ask. Well once you have the KMS server setup and running on your network it is quite simple to use.

  1. Install a copy of Windows Vista Business or Enterprise on the client PC using the default Corporate Key.
  2. Once installed and attached to your network, you open a elevated command prompt on the Vista client PC and type the following commands.

cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -skms xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx


slmgr /skms xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx

Where xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx is the IPv4 address of your KMS server. You will get the message such as “Key management service machine name set to xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx successfully”

Next you will enter:

cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -ato


slmgr -ato

Then wait for about 30 seconds. You should finally see a message displayed stating “Product activated successfully”

You can type in the following to check the activation status of your Vista PC.

cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -dlv


slmgr -dlv

You will then be greeted by a status message of how long till you have to reactivate your Vista license key.


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