I work for a fairly large school. We are deploying 850 tablet PCs to students starting tomorrow (Windows 7 Enterprise with a MAK). We have imaged all of these machines with our standard student image tailored specifically for these machines. When I created the unattend.xml file, SkipRearm was enabled.

We imaged all the machines over a two month period. As I understand the SkipRearm feature, the 30 day activation period is started after the computer is booted up for the first time (if it is disabled). Because it was enabled, we are at the mercy of when the image was created and how much time was left on the grace period. The image was finalized on June 6th. We are way past the 30 day grace period now. We have noticed that the computers need to be activated after logging in. Because we are handing them out to over 60 students at a time I need to figure out a way to activate the computer automatically with a group policy.

The activation wizard pops up right after login but right before any processes start. We use Desktop Authority to help out with group policies. I have already created an slmgr script that runs at boot. The problem is that it runs after the activation wizard pops up, so that doesn't help out at all.

I guess my questions are:

  • Is there a way to do this with a standard group policy?
  • Would that be futile because it would run after the activation wizard anyway?
  • Does anyone else have any ideas on what to do to make this process more efficient? Everything is already unattended. We really don't want to have to go around to each computer and enter our admin credentials to activate each computer.
  • I have found a workaround for this issue. I didn't realize in my haste to ask this question, but you can click out of the activation wizard. It proceeds to login to the machine. Because it is logging in, my slmgr script runs and activates the student's computers. The only thing we have to do is instruct them to click cancel on the activation wizard and press OK on the activation success dialog. This will save a lot of time. This probably isn't the best solution but it will work. By the way, the activation script only runs once per computer so I don't have to worry about too many activations. – Blurn Aug 3 '11 at 19:13
  • Since that whole debacle I have learned the best methods for volume activation. We were using a MAK (multi-activation key) but because we have over 1000 computers MS recommends that we use a KM server and do volume activation through VAMT (Volume Activation Management Tool). We are still setting up the KM server to activate our KMS keys but we can still use VAMT to batch activate non Genuine computers on our domain with the MAK. Technet has several very good resources for how to implement this. If anyone is interested in it let me know! – Blurn Aug 11 '11 at 14:45

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