Microsoft also formally announced the release of two tools supporting Volume Activation 2.0: Key Management Service (KMS) for Windows Server 2003 and Windows Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT). While announced Feb. 20, Microsoft released the tools on Feb. 12 and 18, respectively. The first tool allows organizations to batch activate Vista PCs using an MAK (Multiple Activation Key). Activation takes place with Microsoft. KMS for Windows Server 2003 fills in an important gap in Microsofts Volume Activation 2.0 strategy and overcomes a huge potential barrier to enterprise deployments. With Vista, software is activated or validated on a periodic, ongoing basis, either with Microsoft or a local KMS Server. Until the release of the new KMS tool, local activation could only be done by way of Vista, Shanen Boettcher, Microsofts general manager of Windows Client, told eWEEK.com. For businesses deploying KMS, PCs must reactivate within every 180 days.Microsoft released the KMS update because "customers requested support for Windows Server 2003," Boettcher said.Analysts had predicted that Volume Activation 2.0 would delay enterprise Vista deployments. Boettcher dismissed that because organizations could activate "over the Internet" with Microsoft. The University of Wisconsin at Madison is an example of an institution struggling to manage Volume Activation 2.0. In a support notice, the schools Division of Information Technology asserted that "Microsoft has been very late to the table with Volume Activation 2.0. KMS activation is brand new and there has not sufficient time to evaluate it. "DoIT feels that of the available activation options, MAK activation initially does the best job of easing installation and minimizing administration," the notice continues. "We do plan to change the primary activation method over to KMS once the tools needed to manage it mature, but we dont yet have a timetable." In addition, "Before we roll [KMS] out for general campus use, we want to thoroughly test it and wait for availability of the Microsoft tools needed to fully manage it," the notice continues. The fifth tool, BDD (Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment) 2007, is another reannouncement. Microsoft released the Solution Accelerator about a month ago. Microsofts last Vista deployment tool is Virtual PC 2007, which the company released Feb. 19. Microsoft expects businesses to use Virtual PC 2007, which is freely available, to run virtualized older Windows versions while migrating to Vista. The idea is to maintain application compatibility without delaying Vista deployments. Businesses subscribing to Software Assurance can run four guest operating system licenses on Windows Vista Enterprise Edition and Virtual PC 2007, Boettcher said. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.