Volume License Activation 2.0: The Technology No One Talks About

Volume License Activation 2.0: The Technology No One Talks About: Even though Microsoft has been allowing certain testers to dabble with its next-generation security platform that will control volume-license keys for Vista, Longhorn Server and Office 2007, the company hasn't allowed testers to talk specifics about

  • Volume License Activation 2.0: The Technology No One Talks About: Even though Microsoft has been allowing certain testers to dabble with its next-generation security platform that will control volume-license keys for Vista, Longhorn Server and Office 2007, the company hasn't allowed testers to talk specifics about it. But we found a few folks with loose lips.
  • Bonus Round: Brian Valentine: Fired or Fleeing? Microsoft's Senior VP in charge of its Core Operating Systems Division is out. Did he jump or was he pushed? For our part, we doubt Microsoft wanted him to leave quite so soon.

Volume License Activation 2.0: The Vista Feature No One Talks About

In mid-June, there were a handful of stories circulating about Microsoft's plans to implement a new volume-key security system with Windows Vista and Longhorn Server. But none of them had many Microsoft-sanctioned, concrete details.
CRN: Microsoft to Enforce Volume-Key Compliance
ArsTechnica: Vista Volume Keys to be Tagged and Neutered
The dearth of specifics is surprising, given that Microsoft has been allowing select testers of Vista, Longhorn Server and Office 2007 to dabble with its future volume-license platform. It seems, however, that most of the folks doing so have been asked not to talk publicly about Microsoft's plans in this space. Some are under non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Others have simply agreed to radio silence.
So when we had a chance to learn a bit more about Microsoft's Volume License Activation (VLA) 2.0 strategy, we jumped at it. And rather than attempt to interpret for you readers what Microsoft has up its sleeve, we decided to share the words from the horse's mouth.

So without further ado, here are some excerpts from the Microsoft Volume Activation 2.0 FAQ (initially posted in June and updated in August):
Q. What is the SP Platform and how does it improve software security?
A. The Software Protection Platform has been under development for several years, and is made up of an Activation Service, client services and API that ship in Vista, and tools and technologies designed to better protect software through stronger security measures. Code protection technologies such as tamper resistance, code obfuscation, and anti-reverse engineering measures have been considerably strengthened for Vista. The SP Platform has enabled Vista to improve software security, including new product activation technologies and policies for Retail, Volume, and OEM customers.

Q. What is Volume Activation 2.0?
A. It is the new digital license activation solution for Microsoft enterprise customers with volume license versions of Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Business and Windows Server "Longhorn" SKUs.
Q. What are the goals of Volume Activation 2.0?
A. The goals of Volume Activation 2.0 are to provide a simple and secure activation experience for enterprise customers, while addressing issues associated with VLK 1.0 and reducing risks of leakage to both Microsoft and our customers. Volume Activation 2.0 will provide system administrators the ability to centrally manage and protect product keys. Looking forward, it will provide the basis for an easy-to-use, comprehensive, integrated activation process that will support both Microsoft's and third-party applications. It is also the starting point for a strong software asset management system that will increasingly offer substantial, measurable benefits to customers.
Q. What are the benefits of volume activation to customers?
A. The benefits to customers are:
* Integrity and security of the software and the VL keys
* Compliance and software asset management efforts are easier
* Tighter control of the machines in the environment
These benefits outweigh additional planning and on-going maintenance required in certain customer scenarios.

Q. Doesn't volume activation impact the TCO?
A. There is some TCO impact depending on the specific deployment choices; however, prescriptive guidance and tools are provided to minimize the impact.

Choosing the type of activation (MAK or KMS)
Q. What are the options for activating Volume Editions of Windows Vista and Longhorn Server?
A. The two volume activation options are:
* Multiple Activation Keys (MAK) for smaller organizations and/or isolated machine(s) with scripting and batch activation capabilities
* On-premise VL Key Management Service (KMS) for networked environments with 25 or more machines. Includes reports and MOM pack for improved protection and management of VL Keys
Software Versions and Media
Q. Which versions support Volume Licensing?
A. Vista RC1 / RTM versions:
* Vista Business
* Vista Business N
* Vista Business K
* Vista Business KN
* Vista Enterprise
* Vista Enterprise K
Longhorn Server RTM:
* Longhorn Server Itanium Edition
* Longhorn Server Web
* Longhorn Server Computer Cluster
* MMS Standard (MAK only)
* MMS Premium (MAK only)
* Longhorn Server Standard/Standard Core
* Longhorn Server Enterprise/Enterprise Core
* Longhorn Server Datacenter/Datacenter Core
Q. Which versions do not support Volume Licensing?

* Home Basic
* Home Premium
* Ultimate
That's a start. We're sure we'll here lots more – positive and negative – about VLA 2.0 as we approach the release of Vista and Office 2007.

Microsoft SensorMap: Searches Done With More Sense

The 15th anniversary of Microsoft Research is approaching rapidly. On September 25 and 26, Microsoft will play host to press and analysts at an open house at its Redmond headquarters.

All Hail Microsoft Research!

We're not 100% sure what the Redmondians have planned for the dog and pony show for those who make the pilgrimage. (Alas, your trusty Microsoft Watcher will not be there live and in person.) But if we were planning Microsoft's research showcase line-up, we'd definitely make sure to feature SensorMap.

SensorMap is a platform for searching and publishing real-time data that is being developed by Microsoft Research's Networked Embedded Computing Group. It is part of the larger Microsoft Research SenseWeb project. Microsoft showed SensorMap to attendees of its closed-door Faculty Summit this summer, we hear.

Microsoft Research Explains SensorMap (in English!)

Read the SenseWeb FAQ

And Then Check Out the SenseWeb Site

"SensorMap is the research portal web site for the SenseWeb project. As the name indicates, it shows sensors and sensor data on the http://local.live.com map," explains the SenseWeb team on their site.
(Speaking of Windows Live Local, that Windows Live service just moved from beta to final earlier this week.)
Windows Live Search Properties Go Live
It sounds like the Live team isn't the only Microsoft product group interested in SensorMap's potential. We're betting the database folks, SharePoint team and others might be quite intrigued, too.
Given all the interest in what Microsoft – not to mention its competitors -- is doing to make search more consumable and palatable, SensorMap and SenseWeb are sure to be crowd (and Wall Street) pleasers, going forward.

Brian Valentine: Fired or Fleeing?
On a final, parting note, we were amused recently by a "Microsoft Insider's" post on the tech-gossip ValleyWag site, claiming that Core Operating System Division (COSD) chief Brian Valentine was given the bum's rush earlier this month and forced to leave Microsoft right when Windows Vista hit the Release Candidate 1 milestone.

ValleyWag: Valentine 'Fired' a Few Months Ago
MSWatch: Valentine Leaves Ahead of Schedule
Supposedly, according to the Valleywagger, Valentine was one of the scapegoats for the repeated slips in Vista's delivery timetable.
Let's just say, that's NOT what we heard. Valentine was supposedly on board until Vista RTM'd. Based on comments from insiders and outsiders we know, Valentine's decision to leave was not forced. It was definitely fast. (In fact, the Amazon.com PR woman with whom we spoke on the day Valentine's appointment was announced had absolutely no idea what his new job would be, beyond it being some kind of Senior VP role.) But not the result of a firing.

Given that Valentine had vowed never to speak to this Microsoft Watcher again (following the publication of the infamous "64,000 Bugs Still Left in Windows 2000" story in February 2000), we're doubtful we'll have a chance to ask him for the real story.

February 2000: 64,000 Windows 2000 Bugs on the Loose
But if anyone has more details on Valentine's sudden departure, we're all ears....
If you experience any difficulties with receiving your issues of Microsoft Watch, please click


Microsoft Watch Information

Copyright 2006 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Ziff Davis Media Inc., 28 East 28th Street, New York, NY 10016. The Microsoft Watch newsletter and Code Name Tracker are intended for the individual use of the recipient only, unless licensed. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Microsoft Watch is an independent publication, not affiliated with or authorized by Microsoft Corporation.