KMS and MAK Explained ( Step by Step )

Posted: 01/04/2011 in Windows Server

Note before you start you need only one KMS host in your organization .so don’t start entering KMS keys in all of your servers .I have seen this happen once and caused a lot of issues .having the KMS Host is the same as having windows XP old VLK key .its unlimited .this does not mean you don’t have to buy each and every windows you have . but in a lot of scenarios this will help you .KMS is your friend Smile


What is KMS ?

Key Management Service (KMS) uses a KMS key to establish an activation service that is hosted locally in your environment. The KMS key is used only to activate a computer that you designate as the KMS host to enable KMS. After the service is established, your Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 systems can activate by connecting to the KMS host.

No keys are used to activate the KMS client systems. Systems activated via KMS must reactivate at least once every six months by connecting to the KMS host. A minimum number of physical KMS client machines is required and must be maintained for activation of KMS clients to occur.

A KMS key can activate six KMS hosts(KMS Servers ) with up to 10 activations per host. Each host can activate an unlimited number of computers that are running Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista Business, or Windows Vista Enterprise operating system, so you may need only a single KMS host. If you need more activations for your KMS key, you can call your Microsoft Activation Center to request an increase.

You must establish and maintain a minimum number of KMS client computers for activation to occur. You must have at least five (5) computers to activate Windows Server 2008 and at least twenty-five (25) computers to activate Windows Vista clients. Computers needed to meet the thresholds can be both physical and virtual.


What is MAK ?

A MAK is used for one-time activation of a computer with Microsoft’s hosted activation services. There are two ways to activate computers using a MAK.

  • MAK Independent activation requires each computer to independently connect and activate with Microsoft, either over the Internet or by telephone.
  • With MAK Proxy Activation, a computer acting as the MAK proxy gathers activation information from multiple computers on the network and then sends a centralized activation request to Microsoft’s hosted activation services on their behalf. A free application, the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT), enables you to do a MAK Proxy Activation.


1. What is Volume Activation Management Tool VAMT?

The Volume Activation Management Tool, or VAMT, is a free Microsoft tool to help administrators perform many tasks related to Windows product activation, using a single tool.

VAMT 1.2 released as part of the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK), supports Windows Vista and later, and Windows Server 2008 and later. VAMT 1.2 can perform activations with a Multiple Activation Key (MAK), and enables Key Management Service (KMS) client activations.[1]

VAMT 2.0 includes several significant improvements over VAMT 1.2. It supports all of the above Windows operating systems plus Office 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010. VAMT 2.0 is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in for a consistent administration experience, and is available as a standalone download. This version additionally enables administrators to manage KMS host and retail keys and activations. Admins may optionally use a Command Line Interface to script VAMT tasks vs. using the interactive GUI.

This document explains VAMT 2.0 and its benefits in more detail. We use Windows systems as our focus, but all of the capabilities apply also to Office 2010 products.

Example of a screen shots


Volume Activation Timeline


Setting Up VAMT





Note: VAMT use WMI so don’t forget to add exception in the client firewall for that server

For more info please visit

Todd had wrote a great post on how to setup a KMS server I would like to share it with you

thanks Todd for the great post


Setting up a KMS Server

Windows 7 Volume licensing basically has three ways to activate, MAK, MAK proxy and KMS. The first two require a key and the proxy needs to use the Volume Activation Management Tool. I won’t get into MAK today, its is somewhat straight forward. If you need information, check out the information on MAK at TechNet,

What I want to talk about is KMS, Key Management Service. Setting one of these servers up is as easy as making Kraft Dinner. Yes, simple. In reading in the forums I see people having troubles getting one up and going. I’ll walk you through the easiest setup. This walkthrough isn’t meant for someone already using a KMS server for Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008.

If you want to activate Windows 7 clients, the simplest choice is install Windows Server 2008 R2. You can use Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008 but you need to install an update. If you have Server 2008 R2, I recommend using it, its just the easiest thing to do. There is a hierarchy of how the setup works, will give you the low down.

For me, Windows Server 2008 R2 based KMS server made the most sense. The next step is to locate your KMS key for your volume activation. The key you are looking for, is the Windows Server 2008 Std/Ent KMS B (note the KMS B). image thumb Setting up a KMS Server

Instead of using the MAK key when you enter the key for activation, you will enter in your KMS.

image thumb1 Setting up a KMS Server

You will get an warning message that you are using a KMS key, like this.

image thumb2 Setting up a KMS Server

Click OK and you will have then made a KMS host machine. That is all there is to it. Some people get worried and think they have to add a Windows 7 key for the KMS host to accept Windows 7 clients. You don’t need to do that, at least I didn’t have to.

The other thing to remember is that in order for your server to activate computers, you must have at least 5 Servers checked in for server activation to occur or 25 Windows 7 or Vista machines checked in for client activation to occur. To check the status of the computers, I find the VAMT tool which comes with the WAIK works well.


Setting up an Office 2010 KMS Host Server

This morning was quiet in the office so I decided to tackle adding Office 2010 to my Microsoft Deployment Toolkit installation.

I’ll cover off how you do the add and the options in another post but in order to activate Office 2010, you have two options now; KMS or MAK. Microsoft has moved the licensing of Office to be like that of Windows 7. Makes plenty of sense, but how do you set up your infrastructure so you can activate Office 2010?

I already have a Windows 2008 R2 Server acting as my KMS Host for Windows activations so I used that server. Don’t have a KMS Host for activating Windows 7 or Vista yet, check my post on setting up a KMS Host Server. If you just want to use KMS for Office 2010, then that is fine too. You need to head to Microsoft Download Center and download Microsoft Office 2010 KMS Host software. I chose to run it on my existing KMS Server, but if you don’t yet have a KMS Server, the machine you run this on will become your KMS Host for Office 2010.

image thumb Setting up an Office 2010 KMS Host Server

Accept the EULA and click continue and it will install.

image4 thumb Setting up an Office 2010 KMS Host Server

Once the file runs, it will ask you for you KMS Key for Office 2010.

image14 thumb Setting up an Office 2010 KMS Host Server

Click Yes and enter the key.

image20 thumb Setting up an Office 2010 KMS Host Server

It will then return whether it was successful or not.

image24 thumb Setting up an Office 2010 KMS Host Server

That is all there is to it.

Once you start installing Office 2010, the KMS activation key is already defaulted in the installation. The installation will search out your KMS host server. If everything is working properly on the DNS side, then it should activate and you will be off to the races.

If you get stuck, here are some other resources:

Microsoft Office Blog – Volume Activation Tips and Tricks

Volume Activation for Office 2010


additional information on activation can be found on

  1. lee says:

    Wow.. this is very well done… I work with a lot of schools in the summer and before we start imaging/deploying, I sit down and discuss the various licensing Microsoft offers… OEM, RETAIL, VL1 & 2, MAK, KMS…. so they understand why we are putting in a KMS Server and why they need a count of 25 & generally how it works…. I am definitely bookmarking this!

  2. Ahmed Hussein COPYCAT says:

    Way to copy/paste someone else’s work:

    For those of you who have, or were thinking, of bookmarking this site, redirect yourselves to actual author of the majority of this article.

    • Ahmed Hussein says:

      well if you are talking about the KMS part , i never said i wrote it you can find the links to the original site before each topic , why did i copy it because this blog is my workbook i keep on it everything that is good and may need it one day .

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