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

End of support approaching…

Over the next few months, Microsoft is removing support for the following versions of Windows and Windows Service Packs:
Windows 2000
Windows 2000 Professional and Windows 2000 Server will both go out of support on 13th July 2010.
Windows XP
Windows XP with Service Pack 2 will also go out of support on 13th July. If you wish to keep running Windows XP in a supported mode from that date, you must make sure that you have Service Pack 3 installed.
Windows Vista
Windows Vista with no service packs installed will no longer be supported from 13th April. It’s time to install Service Pack 2.

For more information, check out the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Blog.

The Ultimate Steal and the Office 2010 Technology Guarantee

This month, Microsoft announced their Office 2010 Technology Guarantee, which says that if you purchase and activate Office 2007 between now and the end of September, you’ll get a free upgrade to Office 2010 when it is released.

The good news for students is that same guarantee applies to purchasing Office today via The Ultimate Steal offer for only £38.95

Personally, I’ve been happily using the Office 2010 Beta for a few months, so if you’re looking to install Office on your own computer, you may want to give that a try. Performance and stability wise, it feels like a finished product.

If you want a bit more information about Office 2010, you may want to check out my previous post for a free “First Look” ebook.

Exchange Resource Mailboxes

Microsoft have long been threatening to remove Public Folders from Exchange and have been deprecating their use with every iteration of the product. Typically, here at Newcastle University, users have requested Public Folders to keep calendars of meeting rooms. Although the Public Folders are easy to set up and manage, they don’t really work too well. Checking availability and the logistics of organising the time with the Public Folder calendar alongside personal calendars is often a complicated and laborious affair.

Using Outlook 2007 and Exchange 2007, the creation of dedicated Resource Mailboxes became a much simpler process and more user friendly. To fall in line with Microsoft’s deprecation of Public Folders, we are keen to have people to move their Public Folder calendars into Resource Mailboxes. The set-up and maintenance of the Resource Mailboxes is best suited to a School Computing Officer or if not available a dedicated super-user.

The resource mailbox is very similar to a standard mailbox however does include some extra options to allow for automated responses and resource dedicated configuration.

Although the Resource Mailboxes still work with Outlook 2003, the checking of availability and the manner in which to find the resource mailboxes is slightly more complicated.

I’ve recently drawn up some documentation for Computing Officers with regards to the configuration of Resource Mailboxes and also for end-users for how you would use them in daily operation.

Resource Mailbox Configuration

Using Resource Mailboxes

We’ve been using Resource Mailboxes internally within ISS for a little while now and have also introduced the service for the Student Interaction element of King’s Gate and parts of the Robinson Library. It is to note that this system is not a competitor for Syllabus Plus and our in-house timetabling services, but to be used as a supplement so that users can organise small meetings within their school/service.