Microsoft Key Management Server (KMS) Overview
An introduction to Microsoft KMS and how it works.
What is a KMS?
A Microsoft Key Management Server (KMS) is a part of the Microsoft Volume Activation 2.0 solution and is used to activate volume licensed Microsoft products like Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. A KMS is used in conjunction with the appropriate media available through the Penn State Computer Store and activates the product locally instead of it directly with Microsoft.
Information Technology Services (ITS) has setup a Microsoft Key Management Server (KMS) for the Penn State Community to use. It will allow any Penn State IP address to activate against the KMS with the exception of the student dorms. The reason for this restriction is because Penn State can only allow machines on it's network to activate the Penn State KMS. To connect to the Penn State KMS, please use these instructions.
How it works
The Microsoft Key Management Server activates a client for a period of 180 day. Once a machine is activated it will attempt to communicate with the same KMS every 7 days to renew it's activation resetting it license counter back to 180 days. If they machine is unable to connect to the KMS it will keep trying to do so silently every 2 hours until it is successful.
If the machine hasn't been able to reestablish communication to the KMS after 180 days, the machine will become unlicensed and go to it's 30 day grace period and notify the user of this change. If the machine is not activated against the KMS after the 30 day grace period it will enter a reduced functionality mode until it is able to connect to it's KMS or is changed to a MAK license key and activated.
If your environment is such that you cannot easily communicate with the KMS you may with to switch to the Multiple Activation Key (MAK) based license. The MAK license key requires a one time activate of the product requiring communication with Microsoft's activation service. Settings and activating the MAK license is by default a manual process that must be done within the first 30 days of installation on the machine.
The MAK based license is best suited for machines that are not regularly connected to the Penn State network such as Penn State owned laptops primarily used at home. The university must keep a running total of the number of machines using this license method, thus if you decide to change from a KMS to a MAK installation, please send your request to Penn State's Computer Store Licensing staff.