There are two types of product key for Windows & Office:
- MAK: The one that you’re used to typing into a machine
- KMS: A special enter-it-once-for-the-network product key
MAK is nice and simple, if you’re only deploying a handful of machines. But if you need to deploy dozens, hundreds or thousands, of machines, are you going to (a) trust the end user to activate (God help you if you think that’ll work!) or (b) run around and activate stuff by hand (why put in a deployment system because you’re obviously training for a marathon).
- Deploying Windows or Office using ConfigMgr: Automated remote deployment where you can’t be everywhere and you need activation to just happen
- VDI: VMs are being fired up and destroyed like crazy
- Cloud: Hosts are deployed with zero touch from VMM, and VMs are deployed without any knowledge of IT. You don’t want customers calling helpdesk about activation alerts.
MAK just isn’t going to work. With a KMS server on your network then you can automate the activation process of Windows and Office on the network. The products reach out to KMS and activate without human effort.
Two posts will be useful:
- Some background and setup information in an old post that I wrote.
- A post this morning by fellow MVP Didier Van Hoye where he has described out to update a KMS to use the new KMS keys for WS2012.