How To : Activate computers on a closed network



I believe that someone at Microsoft thought about us when they invented the new license mechanismחיוך קורץ. KMS, MAK are the new sheriffs in town, guarding the software piracy. 

Key Management Service (KMS) enables organizations to activate computers in a managed environment without connecting to Microsoft individually. Computers running Windows OS/OFFICE (Vista/Server2008/Office2010 and above) activate by connecting to a central Windows computer running the KMS service which connects to Microsoft on their behalf. KMS usage is targeted for managed environments where more than 25 workstations / 5 Server are consistently connected to the organization’s network.

Clients must renew their activation by connecting to the KMS Host at least once every 180 days. Clients not yet activated will attempt to connect with the KMS host every two hours (you can configure this value). Once activated, they will attempt to connect to the KMS host every seven days (configurable too). Clients have a 30-day grace period to complete activation. Clients not activated within this time period will go into Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM).

Light bulbDownload KMS 1.1 to host KMS on Windows Server 2003 (it is already included in windows 2008 and above) and enable activation of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. To extend support for KMS to provide activation for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 download the following update KB968915

Multiple Activation Key (MAK) can activate a specific number of computers. They are not used to install Windows but rather to activate it after installation. Activation can be performed over the Internet or by telephone. You can check the number of remaining activations from the MVLS Web sites and request additional activations by contacting the Microsoft Activation Call Center.

נורת חשמלLearn more on how to troubleshoot Volume Activation error codes on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista-based computers

Product key groups .Windows OS (Vista/Server2008 and above) come in a variety of editions. Microsoft wanted to simplify activation for volume Customers so they created product key groups for volume OS editions, but when they first issued this license groups someone forgot to tell us about it חיוך קורץ 

Volume Product Key Group

Windows Editions

Client (Vista/W7) VL

Windows Vista Business , Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise

Server Group A

Windows Web Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 HPC Edition, Windows Web Server 2008 R2

Server Group B

Windows Server 2008 Standard, Windows Server 2008 ,Standard without Hyper-V, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V, Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise

Server Group C

Windows Server 2008 Datacenter,Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V,Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems, Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter, Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-Based Systems

Closed network

A private/secured/Lab network which cannot access the Internet raises an interesting issue – how to activate computers within this network, when you don’t have outbound connections?

The first option is to install the KMS Service and activate it by phone, but you’ll need to reactivate every 180 days. In my opinion this method is most suitable for dynamic networks, meaning network with rotation of computers and servers or if you have more then few computers.  

The second method is to activate your MAK by phone, and believe me, you “don’t want to try it at home”חיוך קורץ. This is a tedious process especially if you need to activate more then one computer חיוך עצוב.

The alternative is to use the VAMT (Volume Activation Management Tool). Using VAMT is still a long process, but less painful:

VMAT Installation

  • Download VAMT version 2
  • Install the tool on a computer in the corporate network, which has an Internet access. (Target Computer).
  • Install the tool on a computer inside the closed network (Source Computer).


On the target computer

Adding new MAK

  • Open VAMT
  • Select ‘Product Keys’ (on the left pan)
  • Write your key and give it a name (‘Remark’)
  • Click on the ‘Add Product Key’ button


נורת חשמל On a network which is open to the Internet, you can click ‘Verify’ to validate your key and to check it’s ‘key group’.



Add computer to the VMAT console

  • Click on ‘All Products’ (on the left pan)
  • Select the search method (ex: ‘Manually enter name or IP address’)
  • You can filter the search by computer name
  • Click on ‘Add Computers’ to start the search operation



Update Computer Status

  • Select one computer or more
  • Right click ‘Update Status’
  • The results will be shown in the table under ‘Status of the last action’ column



Install MAK Key

  • Select one computer or more
  • Right click ‘Install Product Key…’
  • The results will be shown in the table under ‘Status of the last action’ column
  • The ‘Product Key Type’ will be change to MAK
  • The ‘License Status’ will remain as ‘Out of box grace’



Export Computer Information

  • Click on ‘All Products’ (on the left pan)
  • Right click on ‘Save List As’ CIL file
  • Copy the file to your Source Computer


נורת חשמל The ‘CIL’ file is actually an XML File

On the source computer

Import the CIL File

  • Open the CIL file in the VAMT console
  • You can see your imported computers in the console list


Get Confirmation ID

  • Select one computer or more
  • Right click ‘Activate’
  • Select ‘Proxy Activate’


  • A popup windows will be open , click on ‘OK’
  • The results will be shown in the table under ‘Status of the last action’ column – ‘Successfully Acquired Confirmation ID…’
  • Save the file
  • Copy the saved file to the Target Computer’




On the target computer

Activate the target computers

  • Open the saved file (from the source computer)
  • You can see your computers in the console list
  • Select one computer or more
  • Right click ‘Activate’


  • Select ‘Apply Confirmation ID…’
  • A popup windows will be open , click on ‘OK’
  • The results will be shown in the table under ‘Status of the last action’ column – ‘Successfully deposited Confirmation ID…’
  • The ‘License Status’ will change to ‘Licensed’



אגודלים מצביעים כלפי מעלה Congratulations your are activated ! אגודלים מצביעים כלפי מעלה


Add comment
facebook linkedin twitter email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



  1. John Wright17/02/2012 ב 00:02

    Very good write up sir, thank you for sharing that with us.

  2. Daniil Kolubelov23/02/2012 ב 02:55

    Good write up, but I still miss those good old VOL days. Just type in the key and you are done. MS really should not have implemented that activation stuff because I suspect that is why we are seeing a shift towards free Linux flavors. If I cannot get windows for free I’m going with Linux. It’s just another example of big business executives thinking about immediate profit instead of long term business security. As for me, I’m learning Linux to stay competitive.