Some days ago, I published the first part of my review of VAMT where I wrote about my experiences with the Status Collection and the MAK management functionality. Today, I'll discuss the most interesting features of VAMT, i.e. its ability to deploy MAK keys to Vista machines.

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Deploying MAKs with VAMT isn't the only option you have. In my post about MAK activation, I outlined all possible options. The advantage of using VAMT for this purpose is that the product key installation and the activation of the Vista machines can be done in one step. If you specify the MAK on the reference machine for your master image, for example, you'll have to take care about the activation in an extra step after you deployed the Vista image.

The only requirement is, however, that you can access all your clients from the computer where you installed VAMT. It is also recommended that your Vista machines belong to a Windows domain or workgroup. Otherwise, you'll have to add the IP addresses of all your clients manually. If you want to deploy the MAK in a Windows workgroup, a registry key has to be added on all Vista machines to enable remote administration action under UAC (User Account Control).

If you work with Active Directory, deploying the MAK with VAMT is quite simple. After you added all Vista machines, you right click on a container or on selected computers and choose MAK Independent Activation or MAK Proxy Activation. Which option you should use depends on the way your Vista clients are connected to the Internet. If your firewall doesn't allow your workstations to connect to Microsoft using DCOM RPC traffic, you can work with MAK Proxy Activation.

This way, the MAK Proxy, i.e. VAMT, installs the MAK on the Vista computer, obtains the Installation ID (IID), submits the IID to Microsoft on behalf of the client, and receives the Confirmation ID (CID), which is then used to activate Vista. With MAK Independent activation, VAMT installs the product key on the Vista computers which will then directly contact Microsoft to activate.

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During my tests both options worked reliably, however, I only tried it on a couple of machines. There was only one thing which was a bit strange. I uninstalled a product key with slmgr.vbs –upk command on a Vista computer. After refreshing the computer status VAMT correctly recognized that this machine is in non-genuine state. However, as key type it displayed now "SKU not supported". SKU stands for "Soft Keeping Unit" and is a unique code which allows Microsoft to keep track of its products. So VAMT somehow classified this machine as a non-volume edition. Consequently, I wasn't able anymore to deploy a MAK to this computer.


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