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KMS vs. MAK activation for Windows Server 2008

Posted on 2009-05-13
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I'm getting concerned that all of a sudden some of my Server 2008 servers will become not activated anymore. I get this event ID: 12293 Source: Security-licensing-SLC    in the event log every day or so. I feel like I get more confused every time I read about differences between KMS and MAK.

Right now all my 2008 servers were activated using KMS. The 2008 domain controllers are the only ones that are getting successfully published in DNS.

Am I okay? Or do I have to do further configuration? Should I disable DNS publishing for KMS on the non-DC servers?
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Question by:fina27
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dvast8n earned 2000 total points
ID: 24379518
If you had to choose one or the other I would do MAK. With KMS the servers would have to contact the KMS to keep themselves active. This usually happens on a weekly basis and can go upto 180 days without contact. Now if you were to have something go wrong with your KMS key you are solely depending on Microsoft to resolve the issue.

Here's a quick list from Ryan Kononoff site:

KMS Pros:
Activation is automated. New servers will attempt to discover the KMS via DNS (an SRV record) and activate automatically.
Internet access is not required as servers only require access to the KMS.
KMS Cons:
KMS clients must contact the KMS host every 180 days. This means availability is important though it is worth mentioning that the activation grace period still applies.
KMS Hosts must renew their activation every 180 days. Again, availability is important.
A minimum of 5 KMS clients are required in order to activate KMS.

Other notes worth mentioning:
The number of required activation keys are reduced by grouping activations: DataCenter/Itanium, Enterprise/Standard, Web, Vista Ent/Bus.

MAK Pros:
No "expiration" on activations. In other words, once a host is activated, it will remain activated (assuming no major hardware changes take place).
No additional infrastructure is required.
More sleep at night :-) With KMS, all windows servers activate and remain activated by contacting an internally hosted service. With MAK, you simply activate once through Microsoft and walk away.
Works out of the box. No minimum number of hosts required nor are changes to DNS required.
MAK Cons:
Every host must be manually activated.
Once your alloted activations are used up on a single key, you must contact Microsoft to complete the activation process.
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Expert Comment

by:dvast8n
ID: 24379535
ADD ON:

Note that the last con for KMS. "A minimum of 5 KMS clients are required in order to activate KMS."

This could be the reason why the servers are not active.
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Author Comment

by:fina27
ID: 24379569
Ok so just to tell a little about my environment...... I have 5 Server 2008 servers right now that I activated under KMS. Three of the servers are DCs and aren't having this error.

Should I only change the other two servers to MAK? Or should I change them all to MAK?
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Author Comment

by:fina27
ID: 24379631
And I'm guessing I just logon to the Eopen website and click "New MAK Keys" on the corresponding license agreement? I bought 6 Server 2008 licenses.
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Expert Comment

by:dvast8n
ID: 24379652
If it were me I would covert them all over to MAK. I think Ron Popeil says it best...."Set it and forget it!"
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:dvast8n
ID: 24379747
Here's a good quick FAQ on Windows 2008 Activation for both MAK and KMS.

http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/existing-customers/windows-activation-faq.aspx

It is possible to have a mix of KMS and MAK so if you didn't want to mess with the servers that are already activated, you don't have to.
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Author Comment

by:fina27
ID: 24379872
Okay i converted one server over to MAK no problems.

Well they are all activated. I'm guessing only the servers that get the 12293 error will become un-activated after 180 days? And the servers that are getting the 12294 successful log will stay activated?
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Author Comment

by:fina27
ID: 24384610
Yep. What I guessed is correct. You've been very helpful dvast8n!
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:dvast8n
ID: 24385981
I'm glad I could help! Thank you for the feedback. I appreciate it.
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