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Windows Vista Business and Ultimate Editions: The Experience Part 2

January 15, 2007

This is the second part of my ongoing experience with Windows Vista.

Windows Vista Business Key Management Service (KMS) Server

From Microsoft (

Key Management Service
Your 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.

Currently the KMS software runs on a local computer running Windows Vista or the Microsoft Windows Server Code Name “Longhorn” operating system. In the future, it will run on the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system.

For Microsoft Volume Licensing Services (MVLS) customers using Windows Vista Business Edition:

Multiple Activation Key

The Multiple Activation Key (MAK) activates either individual computers or a group of computers by connecting directly to Microsoft servers over the Internet or by telephone. The keys can be used a limited number of times. This activation limit can be increased by calling your Microsoft Activation Center.

There are two ways to activate a computer using a MAK:

  1. Proxy Activation: With Proxy Activation, multiple computers are activated at the same time by using a single connection to Microsoft. Proxy Activation is the most similar to the Volume Activation 1.0 that customers have been using up to now.
  2. Independent Activation: Each computer connects to Microsoft servers and is activated individually.

According to Microsoft article, each computer running Windows Vista Business Edition with Volume License needs to reactivate its license at least every six months. As of now, I have been having problems activating Windows Vista Business from remote location. One way to do so is to connect to the network through VPN. I need to use Cisco VPN Client, but unfortunately it is not fully compatible with Windows Vista yet. For the moment I was unable to activate the copy of Windows Vista Busines from remote location.

The KMS server keeps track on the amount of Windows Vista installations. Windows Vista reactivation wouldn’t be a problem at all for desktop computer inside the corporate network. Unfortunately, this might cause some inconvenient with portable computer. For example, a laptop running Windows Vista Business was (re)activated 5 months and 3 weeks ago. the laptop was taken on a business trip by an employee for two week period. What would happen when Windows Vista was up for another reactivation? In many cases VPN wouldn’t be available. We won’t know untill then.

Overall, Windows Vista activation scheme is slightly inconvenient. Microsoft has gone this far to impose stricter licensing scheme on enterprise customers. By all means, Microsoft still can make it even stricter (and worse) to control Windows Vista distributions.

I’ll wait for another 6 months or so to find out if such licensing scheme would cause any problems.

to be continued…

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