Understanding MAK Activation

A MAK is used for one-time activation with Microsoft’s hosted activation services. Each MAK has a predetermined number of allowed activations; this number is based on Volume Licensing agreements and does not match the organization’s exact license count. Each activation using a MAK with Microsoft’s hosted activation service counts toward the activation limit.

There are two ways to activate computers by using a MAK:

  • MAK Independent activation. Each computer independently connects to and is activated by Microsoft either over the Internet or by telephone. MAK Independent activation is best suited to computers within an organization that do not maintain a connection to the corporate network.

  • MAK Proxy activation. MAK Proxy activation enables a centralized activation request on behalf of multiple computers with one connection to Microsoft. MAK Proxy activation is configured using the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT). MAK Proxy activation is appropriate for environments in which security concerns may restrict direct access to the Internet or the corporate network. It is also suited for development and test labs that lack this connectivity.

MAK is recommended for computers that rarely or never connect to the corporate network and for environments in which the number of computers needing activation does not meet the Key Management Service (KMS) activation threshold. MAK can be used for individual computers or with an image that can be duplicated or installed using Microsoft deployment solutions. MAK can also be used on a computer that was originally configured to use KMS activation, which is useful for moving a computer off the core network to a disconnected environment.

Volume Activation Management Tool

Included in the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK), VAMT is a stand-alone application that collects activation requests from several computers , and then sends them to Microsoft in bulk. VAMT allows IT pros to specify a group of computers to activate using Active Directory® Domain Services (AD DS) , workgroup names, IP addresses, or computer names. After receiving the activation confirmation codes, VAMT distributes them to the computers that requested activation. Because VAMT also stores these confirmation codes locally, it can reactivate a previously activated computer after it is reimaged without contacting Microsoft. Additionally, VAMT can be used to easily transition computers between MAK and KMS activation methods.

Note   Download the Windows AIK for Windows 7 RC from the Microsoft Download Center at https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=136976.

MAK Architecture

MAK Independent activation installs a MAK product key on a client computer. The key instructs that computer to activate itself with Microsoft servers over the Internet. In MAK Proxy activation, VAMT installs a MAK product key on a client computer, obtains the installation ID (IID) from the target computer, sends the IID to Microsoft on behalf of the client, and obtains a confirmation ID (CID). The tool then activates the client computer by installing the CID.