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Product Activation and Key Information

Microsoft includes product activation technology in some products sold through the Volume Licensing channel. A product key is required to activate these products.

Note to Microsoft Volume Licensing customers: You can find your Volume License Product Keys at the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).

Recent Changes to Volume Activation

With Volume Licensing for products such as Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Office 2010, and Office 2013, you must use Volume Activation (VA). To activate these products with VA, you can use either a Multiple Activation Key (MAK) or Key Management Service (KMS).

Read More About Volume Activation

Volume Activation is a product activation technology used to activate Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7, Office 2010, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems, and Office 2013. It enables Volume Licensing customers to automate the activation process in a way that is transparent to end users. Volume Activation applies to systems that are covered under a Volume Licensing program and is used strictly as a tool for activation; it is in no way tied to license invoicing or billing.

Volume Activation provides two different models for completing volume activations: Key Management Service (KMS) and Multiple Activation Key (MAK). KMS allows organizations to activate systems within their own network. MAK activates systems on a one-time basis, using Microsoft’s hosted activation services. Customers can use either or both activation methods in their environment. The type of key entered in the product determines the activation method. There is a third model for completing volume activation called Active Directory-Based activation. For more information, see Active Directory-Based Activation Overview.

If you are planning a Windows deployment of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, or Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems, you probably have the same considerations for Windows as for Office 2013. To help determine which activation method to use for Windows, see the Windows Volume Activation Planning Guide. Most likely, Office 2013 will use the same method.

KMS and MAK activation

The KMS and MAK activation processes for Office 2013 are basically the same as they were for Office 2010, except that the Office 2013 KMS host is not supported on Windows Server 2003. The Office 2013 KMS host is supported on Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7 VL edition, Windows 8.1 VL edition, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems.

If you plan to deploy Windows 7 and/or Office 2010 by using Key Management Service (KMS) as the activation method, please note:

  • Windows Server 2008 is not supported as a KMS host to activate Windows 7 and Office 2010.

    • A patch is available to allow activation of Windows 7 client machines. (A Windows Server 2008 R2 KMS key is required.)

    • A patch is not available to allow activation of Office 2010 clients.

  • If you are using Windows Server 2008 as a KMS host, here are your alternatives:

    • Upgrade the KMS host machine to Windows Server 2008 R2.

    • Downgrade the machine to Windows Server 2003.

    • Run the KMS host on a Windows 7 volume edition machine.

    • Run a Windows Server 2003 virtual machine on the Windows Server 2008 machine.

If your organization has fewer than 50 PCs, the best option is to use Multiple Activation Keys (MAK) with Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT).

Microsoft makes every effort to cover all of its previous platforms for compatibility; however, new technologies may make it necessary to decide which previous versions will continue to be supported. Therefore, Windows Server 2008 is not covered as a platform as an Office 2010 KMS host.

Volume License Keys (VLK), including MAK and KMS, are issued to you under a specific license agreement and enable your organization to use the software that you have licensed.

VLKs can be used only with Volume Licensing products; they cannot be used with retail software or software that is preinstalled on a new computer (original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, products).

Learn about Volume Activation and how to activate systems by using KMS and/or MAK.

How to Get Volume License Keys

Look up the product for which you need a key. Information on how to get your key will be displayed. Not all Volume Licensing products require a key. Volume license products using Volume Activation are pre-installed with a KMS client setup key. You will not need to enter a key for products on your client machine if you are using KMS activation. If a product is not listed, no key is required.

Read more about how to get your keys

For most products, there are two ways to obtain your VLKs:

If you are using the ISV Royalty Licensing Program, or the High Volume Messaging Services Agreement (HVMS), keys are not available through the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC); you will need to request them by calling your Activation Center.

Some products licensed under Volume Licensing agreements use keys that cannot be obtained through the VLSC or the Microsoft Activation Center.

Keys are assigned to and intended for the sole use of your organization. You may be held responsible for unauthorized use of VLKs issued under your agreement, so be sure to keep your keys secure and do not disclose them to unauthorized parties. If you use the VLSC, you should regularly review and update the user permissions.

Find Products

Get Product Key Information

Step 1

Look up your product(s)

Use the search box or click a product category.

Note: Not all Volume Licensing products require a key. If a product is not listed, no key is required.

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