Thanks to everyone who took part in my KMS (Key Management Service) vs. MAK (Multiple Key Management)
survey. 270 voted so far for one of the four options, I offered in this poll. You could choose among four options to activate Vista in a corporate environment: KMS, MAK, MAK and KMS, and OEM/retail. The fifth option is for those of you, who still have to make that choice.

Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)

I am quite surprised that 22% don't know how they will activate Vista. I mean after all those detailed articles I wrote about Vista activation, you should have made up your mind by now. 😉 I suppose, this is due to the fact that many are still not considering deploying Vista. There is certainly no reason to hurry. XP is doing just fine in most environments. However, sooner or later you'll have to make the move. I can't repeat it often enough: Even if you don't intend to deploy Vista in your network in the near future, try to learn about its new features now. The changes for system administrators are huge. The same applies to Windows Server 2008.

It is no surprise that the majority of you use KMS to activate Vista. After all that is the method that Microsoft recommends for organizations with more than 25 computers. 27% voted for this option which seems to be a bit low to me. I assume this number will increase in the future. In the last weeks, I began to notice that KMS was gaining ground in this poll. I think, those 10% who will use MAK and KMS can be added to the KMS group. Most of them probably use MAK for laptops only. Therefore, KMS is the main activation method here.

23% of you are in the lucky position to leave the Vista activation to your hardware vendor. Buying new hardware with an installed and activated operating system certainly has its charm. Just connect the power plug and the network, and you're done. This strategy worked fine in the past because it always took Microsoft about five years to release a new OS version. Usually, you also need new hardware after this time period. So it makes sense to just buy new PCs with the latest Windows version installed. However, I think that Microsoft will reduce the time cycles between new Windows releases in the future. If Windows 7 will indeed be released in 2010, you might run into problems with this strategy. Upgrading an OEM edition is usually more expensive than a regular license.

17% are going to work with MAK only. I suppose that many of this group can't use KMS because they have less than 25 computers. You may know that KMS can only be used if more than 25 Vista machines are connected to it. Maybe some of you just don't like the idea that KMS is contacting Microsoft every 180 days to reactivate itself.

When I started this poll I wasn't sure which activation method we will use. We have about 600 desktops, so KMS would be the option that Microsoft recommends for us. However, I'm one of the people who don't like the fact that computers which have been activated already have to reaffirm their activation again and again. So I had a great sympathy for the MAK option right from the beginning.

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But then I recognized an analogy to another decision I had to make many years ago. In a way, KMS works like DHCP. Instead of IP addresses a KMS server issues licenses. When we first introduced DHCP (actually it was BootP at that time) I was skeptical about this technology. What will happen if the DHCP server isn't available for some reason? Well, today I can't imagine anymore running a network without DHCP. Just connect the PC to the network and don't care about the IP configuration anymore. It is exactly like this with KMS. Just deploy Vista without bothering about its activation. Of course, this analogy only applies if KMS proves to be as robust as DHCP. So we decided to give KMS a chance.

MAK vs. KMS, which will you use to activate Vista?

View Results

  1. Smita Jain 15 years ago

    It’s great if you use KMS if you have more than 25 machine you should go for KMS and MAK combination in our case we have deployed more than 2000n Machines only the machines which are not available we are using MAK activation otherwise it’s simple keep it on KMS and let KMS do it’s wonder. If you are worried about availability of your KMS server just make a failover (simply deploy two KMS with different priority) and forget about the activation part as soon as you are in domain environment it’s great.
    Hats off to KMS.

  2. Smita, I agree. We also use KMS now.

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