Microsoft is planning to offer customers a choice of two kinds of volume-license key services: the volume-license KMS (key-management service) and MAK (Multiple Activation Keys). The KMS option is hosted by the user and thus does not need to talk to Microsoft. It brings a single key controlled by an IT professional that is encrypted and found on a single machine; each of the machines inside the enterprise talk to that KMS service at least twice a year, Lindeman said.This would apply, say, in a lab with 1,000 machines and where a KMS is not installed. "They obviously do not want to call Microsoft up 1,000 times, and so they can run this tool on a single machine," he said. Click here to read about how Microsoft has already lowered the boom on illegal Windows copies. "It will talk to those 1,000 machines and harvest the hardware identity data from them. That single proxy machine will then talk to Microsoft, get the activation identities back for all the machines, and then shoot this out to those machines and activate them. Customers can also use this method to activate their entire organization," Lindeman said. Endpoints Kay believes that these new technologies will ease the burden on IT administrators by allowing them to either administer the activation/validation themselves or have Microsoft do it. "It will help them to know that every client that validates properly has a kernel with integrity," he said. "It represents a first-level health check. Also, they dont need to worry about rogue machines from ex-employees wandering around because theyll go dead after six months." Lindeman agreed, saying customers who had been testing Volume Activation 2.0 liked the fact that the machines talked to the KMS regularly, as this helped them with the problem of computers disappearing from the network and enabled them to see whether they had been tampered with. "The anti-tampering checks that happen every time you talk to KMS helps make sure that the copies of Windows are genuine and not tampered with, which brings added security. We are also provided management tools like a MOM pack, and we have SMS integration to help customers create reports that they can use to monitor the health of the system," he said. According to Lindeman, these tools are in no way related to billing and Microsoft will not know how many computers are activated. "These tools are optional, and we provided them to meet the needs of customers who wanted help with reporting," he said. There will also be open APIs and WMI interfaces on all the machines so that third-party tools can query the store and find out what software is on the machine and what the activation state is. Asked about the issue of false positives, which is an issue with Windows XP and the WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) program, Hartje said the WGA and Software Protection Program have common goals of protecting consumers but are fundamentally different technologies and the issues and complaints would not be the same, she said. Microsofts WGA anti-piracy program has attracted a copycat worm and a second lawsuit. Click here to read more. Customers could call into the support center if they experienced an issue, she said, but as the technology was checking at the time of activation to make sure this was a genuine product, "we expect a reduction in those types of issues. I am sure there will be issues and we will address them as they occur, but its hard for us to know right now what the future will be," she said. Asked if he thought there would be a reduction in issues for customers with this new technology, Kay said it is hard to say as that depends on how well it actually works. But he does feel that casual piracy will diminish fairly significantly. Microsoft has been working with its TAP (Technology Adoption Program) customers and others for more than a year, and much of that feedback has led to things like the proxy activation option and the MOM pack, according to Lindeman. Next Page: KMS inside Microsoft.
The MAK option applies to those companies with users who do not connect to the network at least twice a year or who have a small laboratory of less than 25 users. This multiple activation key activates one time onlyMicrosofts new Volume Activation Management tool will help with proxy activation, he said.