Everything you wanted to know about Microsoft OS Activation

There seems to be some confusion as to how Vista/Windows 7/Server 2008/Server 2008 R2 OS activation works both inside/outside the campus domain and on/off the university network so I’ll try and explain what the options are:

KMS activation

KMS (Key Management Server) activation is designed for machines (doesn’t matter which OS) which are connected to the University network at least once in every 6 months.

If a machine is joined to the campus domain then you don’t need to do anything else, the machine will just activate against the ISS KMS server and you can forget about it.

If the machine is on the University network but not in the campus domain then you can manually point the machine at the ISS KMS server and it will activate (see below)

Once a machine has activated against the ISS KMS server it will periodically re-activate automatically, you’ll only a have a problem with it if it doesn’t talk to the KMS server for over 6 months in which case you should use….

MAK Activation

MAK (Multiple Activation Key) activation should be used for machines which are off the campus network for periods of 6 months or more e.g. a University laptop which is always used off campus. If you need a MAK key then you should email the ISS Helpline and ask for a MAK code stating that you need a MAK code along with the OS that you are using e.g. Windows 7. Once you have the MAK code activate windows by typing activate windows in the search box on the start and follow the on screen prompts and enter the MAK code when asked to do so.

MAK activation requires an internet connection but once it’s done your machine will never need activating again unless you re-install the OS (this is the same type of activation you would use on a computer you bought from PC World etc).

Useful activation commands

All of these commands need to be run from a command prompt running with administrator rights, the easiest way to do this is by typing cmd in the search box on the start menu then right click the cmd icon that it finds and select run as administrator.

1 – Activate a machine on the University network which is NOT in the campus domain

cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -skms locksmith.campus.ncl.ac.uk:1688

cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -ato

2 – Force activation on a machine that is in the campus domain (if you’re impatientJ)

cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -ato

3 – Convert a machine from using MAK to KMS activation and vice versa (you’ll still need to request and use a MAK code if you need one).

N.B. These are generic product keys that are available for all to see at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee355153.aspx

slmgr -upk

slmgr -ipk 33PXH-7Y6KF-2VJC9-XBBR8-HVTHH

slmgr -ato

The above is for Windows 7 Enterprise, replace the product key as appropriate from the table below

Operating system edition
Product key

Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows 7 Professional

Windows 7 Professional N

Windows 7 Professional E

Windows 7 Enterprise

Windows 7 Enterprise N

Windows 7 Enterprise E

Windows Server 2008 R2 Web

Windows Server 2008 R2 HPC edition

Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard

Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise

Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter

Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-based Systems

Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008

Windows Vista Business

Windows Vista Business N

Windows Vista Enterprise

Windows Vista Enterprise N

Windows Web Server 2008

Windows Server 2008 Standard

Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V

Windows Server 2008 Enterprise

Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V

Windows Server 2008 HPC

Windows Server 2008 Datacenter

Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V

Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems

How to add the Quick Launch Toolbar to the Windows 7 taskbar

If you used it a lot in Vista and XP, you might miss the Quick Launch toolbar in Windows 7 as it’s disabled by default.

However, it’s easy to re-enable it:

Right mouse-click on any space on the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen, and select Toolbars… New Toolbar… as shown here:

New Toolbar selection

In the folder field type (or copy and paste) the following:

%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

Click Select Folder, and the Quick Launch bar will appear. You can alter the way the Quick Launch bar looks by right-clicking on it and opting to hide/show titles, enlarge/shrink icons, etc.

So, why isn’t there a Quick Launch bar in Windows 7 by default? Because it’s been replaced by more interactive, intelligent Taskbar features that should, in theory, make the Quick Launch bar redundant. That’s the theory anyway…. There’s nothing to stop you having both the old ways and new ways of doing things though.

Troubleshooting Terminal Services (RDS) Client issues

This problem keeps coming up every now and then so I thought it would be good to document it. If you get licencing error messages when you connect to a Terminal Services session on a remote server then this might fix the problem (you might also get this error if you use the Remote Application Service (RAS) here at Newcastle).

Open regedit

Create a backup of the MSLicensing registry key and its subkeys on the client, and then remove the original key and subkeys by doing the following:

1. On the client, navigate to the following registry subkey: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSLicensing.
2. Click MSLicensing.
3. On the Registry menu, click Export Registry File.
4. In the File name box, type mslicensingbackup, and then click Save.
5. If you need to restore this registry key in the future, double-click mslicensingbackup.reg.
6. On the Edit menu, click Delete, and then click Yes to confirm the deletion of the MSLicensing registry subkey.
7. Close Registry Editor, and then restart the computer.
When the client is restarted, the missing registry key is rebuilt.

Its probably also worth checking to make sure you have the RDP 7 client installed, see http://blogs.msdn.com/rds/archive/2009/10/28/announcing-the-availability-of-remote-desktop-connection-7-0-for-windows-xp-sp3-windows-vista-sp1-and-windows-vista-sp2.aspx (we rolled this out on campus at the end of 2009)

Magpie wireless problems on Windows 7

Thought this might be useful for people trying to connect their Windows 7 laptop/netbook to the Magpie wireless system on campus

Problem: a Windows 7 machine (in our case, Samsung NC10) connects to magpie. The user sets up the VPN as normal; upon clicking “connect” will get the small dialog saying it’s connecting, but nothing else will happen. After some time, it will say something like “connecting via WAN Miniport”, but nothing else will happen.

Solution: For some reason, in certain circumstances Windows 7 doesn’t auto-detect the VPN type. The solution is to go into properties of the VPN connection, then the “Security” tab, then select “Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)” from the drop-down titled “Type of VPN”. No other changes need to be made – when confirming the dialogs, the VPN should now connect.

Exchange 2010 goes RTM

Exchange 2010 has just been finalised. We’re currently running Exchange 2007 and some legacy Exchange 2003 infrastructure which is hopefully going soon. Time to start upgrading again John πŸ™‚

Exchange 2010 brings a better version of OWA which runs on none MS browsers. See http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/2010/en/us/whats-new.aspx for a list of what’s new.

Unfortunately due to other commitments it will be a while before we can start testing Exchange 2010 here at Newcastle


Windows 7 has arrived on campus!

Could Newcastle University be the first organisation in the UK to have Windows 7 RTM available for deployment by WDS…. ?

Whilst there is much discussion at present on campus about how and when we will begin to properly support Windows 7, we didn’t want to let the grass grow under our feet as far as our WDS implementation of the new o/s was concerned.

Adding it to the existing WDS Service was a breeze of course, so perhaps there’s nothing to brag about really πŸ™‚