I am a network administrator at my place of employment and we are getting ready for deploying Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010 Professional Plus in our organization. We are wanting to use a KMS host and key to activate the majority of our computers and reserve our MAK key for computers that won't be connected to the network where the KMS host will reside.

One of the problems that I'm facing is that we would like to deploy our Windows 7 Enterprise software in a phased manner at a rate of maybe 2-3 computers a month (out of 70 total) and at that rate we would not have 25 Windows 7 computers waiting for activation by the KMS host and they would all go out of the grace period. What do I do in this case? I feel like we're in a catch 22 where we have to deploy 25 Windows 7 computers in a 30-day period or none of them will be activated.

I have searched the Internet high and low and haven't found anyone else asking this question, so that makes me think that maybe I'm not understanding something or what we're doing is really weird (which I don't think is the case).

We do have a MAK key as well, so I've thought of deploying our computers using our MAK key until we get close to 25 and then switching them all over to using the KMS key. That seems logical, but then that leads me to my second question.

Can a MAK key be used for up to 25 computers, those computers be converted over to KMS keys and then that MAK key be used for another 25 computers? Or, is the MAK key designated for those first 25 computers and cannot be re-used on other computers?

Thanks in advance for your help demystifying these questions.


You are correct in that you need 25 machines before the KMS server will work. But this 25 includes Windows 2008 and Windows 2008 R2 servers as well.

You can use your MAK key, but after a certain number of activations (it will show you how many on the licensing site) it won't activate automatically any more and you'll have to call in to activate those machines until you can switch them to the KMS key.

I did a blog post recently where I talk about switching the keys around.

  • Denny, thanks for the response. So what you're saying is that the MAK key can be activated on as many computers as I have activations for as long as there are only 25 computers at a time that are activated? And then after I've used all my activations up I'll need to get Microsoft to approve any more activations? – hjoelr Sep 17 '10 at 23:38
  • yeah, pretty much. – mrdenny Sep 19 '10 at 19:21
  • Okay, do you know what part of what I said that isn't exactly right and what would make it right? I'm looking for some concrete information on this so I can be sure to be prepared when we start our Windows 7 transition. – hjoelr Sep 20 '10 at 12:21
  • 1
    What you said is correct. The MAK key will activate up to the number that it says. Then you have to call the licensing center to have them manually activate beyond that. They can give you an email address to email so that you can get more MAK activations as needed. Then once you have 25 machines switch them all back to the KMS client keys that I reverence in my blog post so they will start checking in with your KMS server. – mrdenny Sep 20 '10 at 17:00
  • Thanks for the information. That's what I was looking for. – hjoelr Sep 20 '10 at 17:52

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