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Can you help me with my software licensing question?

So when I go into the Volume Licensing Service Center and review our current used/available MAK activations, it says #/50. (the # being the number of our currently used). What I'm curious about, so far we only put vista on like 10 of our boxes. But over time, if we format a machine for some reason, then activate it, I'm assuming it will then in a way consume 2 keys? So what happens when we max the 50? Does that mean we have to fork over some more cash to M$? If so that's pretty lame.

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marked as duplicate by Iain Jan 27 '12 at 17:18

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

@iain why was this question close? It is not an "exact duplicate" at all. In fact, this question is much more specific than the possible duplicate that is listed above. The answers to that other question are not helpful, whereas the answer to this question was quite helpful indeed, and that information was not duplicated on the other question. – aculich Jan 27 '12 at 23:23
@aculich: As a community we decided some time ago that licensing questions are not something that we can reasonably answer and that in general the correct answer is speak to the licensor. Sean's answer pretty much does that by providing links to the Microsoft documentation too. – Iain Jan 28 '12 at 13:32
up vote 6 down vote accepted

No... you're fine. That count is there to prevent widespread piracy if a MAK key is leaked to the interwebs. Microsoft will increase your MAK key count if you just call up and ask.

You can read more information on volume licensing activations here ( or here ( The answer to your question can be found in the following White Paper: MAK and KMS Volume License Keys and activation limits

Each MAK is associated with a specific number of activations. MAK activation limits are calculated based on Volume License agreements and levels and do not match your organization’s exact license count. We have estimated an initial MAK activation count that is adequate for most customers.


If you need to change the activation limit of your MAK up to double the amount of activations originally allocated, the call center can help with these activations during the phone call. If the amount of activations needed is more, the Call Center representative will guide you through the steps needed to take part in the MAK exception process (MAKADD).

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Thanks so much! – Physikal Jun 19 '09 at 17:56
Keep in mind that it's 50 activations; not 50 licenses. You are responsible for keeping track of your licenses. If you're constantly calling MS to up your MAK key, they're going to get suspicious very quickly. – Chris S Jan 17 '11 at 16:02

MAK activation is a standard Windows activation, with the only difference that you can use the same key to activate multiple times; the activation happens by contacting Microsoft itself: you can use a sort of proxy service for this, but it ultimately sends activation data to Microsoft.

Windows activation is linked to hardware, so, if you re-install the OS on the same computer, it should not count as two separate activation.

The problem you're talking about could happen if you replace old computers with new ones, not if you re-install them; in this case, you can call Microsoft and tell them "I just discarded 20 computers, so please upgade my number of remaining activations accordingly".

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MAK keys count every activation regardless of using the same hardware. The number of activations on a MAK key is not permanently locked like Retail/OEM keys; if you run out of activations you can simply request more. – Chris S Jan 17 '11 at 16:09

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