With upcoming release of Windows Server 2008 Microsoft will introduce a new technology called Volume Activation 2.0, to simplify genuine check of large scale deployments of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 operating systems:
Volume activation enables the customer to activate systems within the customer’s own environment using Key Management Service, or KMS, (a lightweight service that can run on Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008) or activate systems one-time using Multiple Activation Key, or MAK, with Microsoft’s hosted activation services. Use of the KMS eliminates the need for individual machines to connect to Microsoft. KMS enables an unlimited number of activations of both physical and virtual systems as long as a minimum threshold of physical systems is established and maintained within the customer environment. Activation can be performed either online or over the phone, using SMS text-messaging (in Europe), or leveraging proxy tools and services provided by Microsoft.
Volume Activation 2.0 will support virtualization out-of-the-box:
- Q. Do virtual servers or virtual machines (VM) add to the KMS count?
A. No. Only physical computers are added to the KMS count.
- Q. Can I KMS-activate virtual machines and guest operating systems?
A. Yes, but keep in mind that virtual machines are not added to the KMS count.
- Q. Can I MAK-activate virtual machines and guest operating systems?
A. Yes. If MAK activation is used, it is subject to the same hardware tolerance restrictions as on physical machines. This means that if the host hardware changes, the virtual machine may require reactivation. MAK activation of virtual machines is also applied against the MAK activation limit, thus decreasing the activations remaining on the MAK.
- Q. What is the guidance for deploying Windows volume editions in virtual machines?
A. When the virtual machine is created, it is recommended to run sysprep /generalize to reset activation and other system-specific information as the last step before storing or capturing the VM image. Optionally, if you do not want to generalize all computer settings, you can run slmgr /rearm to reset the product activation timers only. This can be done a maximum of 3 times.
It is important to run either sysprep /generalize or slmgr /rearm the system before storing an image. This prevents the activation timer from running down while the product is in storage.
Read a whitepaper introducing Volume Activation 2.0 here.