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How do I activate Volume licenses in a lab? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I work for the world's largest IT training company and Vista volume license activation is raising a problem for us.  As I understand it, even volume licenses will require activation.  We bring out computers to our customer, reload them with the current class "load" or "image", then teach for a week on them.  How am I supposed to active these computers EVERY week when I usually don't have Internet access and the computer may have a different OS on them every week.  MAK and KMS neither one seem to solve our problem!  In some areas I don't even have cell phone coverage so I can't even call MS to activate.

    I could see this being a huge problem in any testing lab as well.  What is the "official" or non-official answer to get this to work?

    Friday, October 20, 2006 5:52 PM

Answers

  • The Initial Grace period of 30 days begins once a machine is booted after installation or after sysprep /generalize is run. In the environment described, you should do the following:
     
    1) Build the reference machine.
    2) From an elevated command prompt, run Regedit.exe
    3) Verify that HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\SL\skiprearm = 0
    4) Run sysprep /generalize /shutdown. This will reset all unique information on the system. The security ID (SID) resets, any system restore points are cleared, and event logs are deleted. This will then force the machine to shut down. The next time the computer starts, the specialize configuration pass runs. A new security ID (SID) is created, and the clock for Windows activation resets (if the clock has not already been reset three times).
    5) Without restarting the reference machine, capture the image using ImageX or another imaging tool.
    6) As you deploy this image, the 30-day Initial Grace period will begin on each target machine when first booted.
     
    Such an image can be deployed indefinitely, and each installed system will not require activation for the first 30 days of operation.
     
    I recommend reviewing the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) Users Guide for detailed guidance on the use of Sysprep. It has changed significantly since XP, and several options are available that may also lend themselves to your deployment strategy, including /oobe.
     
    HTH,
    - AJS
     
    Aaron J. Smith
    Program Manager | Excell Data
    MS Volume Licensing | SPP
    This posting provided AS IS with no warranties and confers no rights
    Friday, October 20, 2006 10:42 PM

All replies

  • There is a thirty (30) day grace period for Product Activation.  If you reimage every week or so, there is no need to activate Windows Vista.
    Friday, October 20, 2006 6:07 PM
    Moderator
  • What happens when the ghost/imagex image is older than 30 days?  I know in XP, sysprep would only set the grace period back 3 times.  What happens if I update my master image more than three times?  Maybe I'm mixing the terms activation and validation a bit.  The real concern is that I have full functionality for a paid product and that I be able to reimage that machine as often as I like without needing an Internet connection or having to call Microsoft for every computer everyweek.

    Shane

    Friday, October 20, 2006 6:16 PM
  • You might try asking your Product Activation question here:

    Discussions in Desktop Deployment: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/community/newsgroups/dgbrowser/en-us/default.mspx?dg=microsoft.public.deployment.desktop

    Friday, October 20, 2006 9:00 PM
    Moderator
  • The Initial Grace period of 30 days begins once a machine is booted after installation or after sysprep /generalize is run. In the environment described, you should do the following:
     
    1) Build the reference machine.
    2) From an elevated command prompt, run Regedit.exe
    3) Verify that HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\SL\skiprearm = 0
    4) Run sysprep /generalize /shutdown. This will reset all unique information on the system. The security ID (SID) resets, any system restore points are cleared, and event logs are deleted. This will then force the machine to shut down. The next time the computer starts, the specialize configuration pass runs. A new security ID (SID) is created, and the clock for Windows activation resets (if the clock has not already been reset three times).
    5) Without restarting the reference machine, capture the image using ImageX or another imaging tool.
    6) As you deploy this image, the 30-day Initial Grace period will begin on each target machine when first booted.
     
    Such an image can be deployed indefinitely, and each installed system will not require activation for the first 30 days of operation.
     
    I recommend reviewing the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) Users Guide for detailed guidance on the use of Sysprep. It has changed significantly since XP, and several options are available that may also lend themselves to your deployment strategy, including /oobe.
     
    HTH,
    - AJS
     
    Aaron J. Smith
    Program Manager | Excell Data
    MS Volume Licensing | SPP
    This posting provided AS IS with no warranties and confers no rights
    Friday, October 20, 2006 10:42 PM
  • I DO appreciate the help, but the problem is that sysprep will only "rearm" Vista (or XP) 3 times.  Over the course of time, most images will undergo more than three changes.  After the 3rd time of running sysprep on the same image, you will NOT be allowed to "rearm" and your grace period will NOT be reset to 30 days. 

    I'm not trying to steal copies of Windows, just use the ones that my company has spent an awful lot of money on.  There simply must be a solution here for customers.  Remember us?  The ones that have PAID for our copies of the product!

    Again, thanks for any help or clarification here!
    Shane Cribbs
    Instructor/Author/Consultant

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006 1:37 PM
  • All copies of Vista must be activated, either by KMS or MAK activation if using a Volume licensed edition. A KMS activation will provide 180 + 30 days of use before needing to reconnect to a Key Management Service machine. Your image could be booted into a network environment once everything 6 months with no need to rearm. Using MAK activation will work for you only if the same image is installed onto the same machine everytime; otherwise the hardware ID won't match: you've already noted this. We support "almost" every scenario for Volume activation, though the methods used in XP need to adapt to Vista's activation enforcement technologies. If you are using a "black ops", completely disconnected, secure lab where information or data can't go in or out -- we don't (yet) have a solution -- but it will be forthcoming.
    Monday, November 20, 2006 6:19 PM
  • The problem with this scenario is the KMS server sees the imaged machines as being just 1 machine since they have not been rearmed. This is a problem when you need to get 25 machines up in order to activate. If you do not set skiprearm to 0 then your image is hosed after running sysprep times on your reference machine. Any suggestions.

    A.Hyder
       
    Thursday, May 3, 2007 11:42 PM