There’s a new Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) available from Microsoft to help administrators manage Multiple Activation Key (MAK) activation for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The way MAK activation works is that the key must be installed on the end system (there are a number of ways to do this - see our latest TechNet Webcast for more details and demos) and then that system is activated with the Microsoft-hosted activation and validation services either online or over the phone. If you are activating one system with MAK, the effort required is minimal. However, if you want to MAK activate multiple systems or transition between activation methods (i.e. MAK to KMS, KMS to MAK, etc.) it gets a bit more complicated. VAMT can help with that.

VAMT uses Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) to communicate with end-systems and provides the following features to help manage activation:

  • Track and administer multiple MAK keys and remaining activations
  • Discover systems via IP address, computer name, Workgroup or Active Directory membership
  • View current activation status for Windows Vista (and later) and Windows Server 2008 (and later) operating systems – includes data such as license state, Windows edition, and the last 5 of the product key installed on the end system
  • Transition systems between MAK and KMS activation (and vice versa)
  • Perform activation/reactivation using cached data (i.e. local reactivation)

The current version of VAMT (1.2) is part of the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for Windows 7. Unlike previous editions, VAMT 1.2 is only available in the Windows AIK and is not published as a standalone download.

The primary difference between VAMT 1.1 and 1.2 is the added support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. If you are using an earlier version of VAMT, you’ll need to install VAMT 1.2 to manage MAK keys and activations for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. You will first need to uninstall the older version of VAMT and then install VAMT 1.2 as part of the Windows AIK. Your current inventory/key data can be saved in a Computer Information List (CIL) file (XML) and opened in the new version. No need to re-enter any keys or rebuild your computer list.

An updated version of VAMT (VAMT 2.0) is currently in beta and expected to release in the first quarter of this year. VAMT 2.0 is a managed MMC plug-in and will offer a number of new features:

  • Support for the upcoming Office 2010 release
  • Support for additional product key types, such as KMS keys
  • Additional computer search capabilities (LDAP query)
  • Command Line Interface that can be scripted to run VAMT tasks without the interactive UI

Download the beta today and give it a try.

No matter the version you are using, VAMT can help with several management and tracking activities related to product activation in your environment.

Nick