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How can I convert Win7 Pro OEM licenses to MAK activation?

Posted on 2010-08-12
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
I have a Win 7 Pro DVD with a MAK#.  The issue is that evidently PC manufacturers can't sell you a PC without an OS installed, so we bought 150 HP PCs with Win 7 installed.  Now for the purpose of deployment efficiency and fiscal common sense, we would like to convert the OEM licenses we purchased through HP to valid MAK activations.  I was told  by Microsoft that we can, but I can't find any details on how to go about it.  Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

Thanks so much for your help
Gregg Lewis
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Question by:eggwis
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by:Pegoto
ID: 33424972
This is not something you can do in any other way than talking with Microsoft themselves. Please visit http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/contact-us.aspx to talk to someone.
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by:Zouleous
ID: 33425213
We replace the OEM image with our own and use our MAK key in the process.  I'm not aware of a process to do what you're saying.  Plus if you create your own image you can put your own standard applications on it rather than the "crap ware" that comes on an OEM image.
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by:ekincam
ID: 33425251
What's the point of converting the OEM to MAK licenses?  Teh OS is licensed to you either way and it is permanent activated with either OEM or MAK activation.  Is it because you have the wrong version of Win7 on them?  Are you reimaging the computers with a standardized image?

You may be able to use VAMT, but I have not tried to use it for OEM to MAK license conversion.  I know it will change computers between MAK and KMS.  I don't have any OEM license to try at the moment.  You can use VAMT to look for computers in your domain, workgroup, or add them by IP.  You can choose a bunch of them and change their keys and activate them all at once.

If that doesn't work, you'll need to use slmgr at the command line.  This is tedious esp for 150 machines.
Open a command prompt using run as admin
Install the new MAK key with the command:
slmgr -ipk
e.g. slmgr -ipk 12345-abcde-etc-etc

Activate using the command:
slmgr -ato

This will phone home to MS and activate the OS.  

Personally though, for that many machines, I'd use KMS if you have that option.  After imaging, the OS looks for activation server and there is no need to manually install any key.  KMS clients use a generic key.
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by:ekincam
ID: 33425267
Just curious Zouleous, but what "crapware" do your computers come with?  

The only thing my Dells have on them from out of the box is Roxio and Power DVD player.  I have not found any good reason to remove them.
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by:Zouleous
ID: 33425436
Yeah that's not bad.  Very often you get trial versions of antivirus, Office, etc...among other things.  Sometimes the OEM will package utilities and things that you may decide you don't actually want.

One example off the top of my head would be Access Connections from Lenovo.  The intent with Access Connections is to fill in the gaps where Windows lacks functionality with networking.  Back when Windows 2000 came out this was a pretty big deal.  As time has gone on Windows now includes much of the functionality that Access Connections provides.  I've gone back and forth as to whether I want it on our machines because it actually makes it harder to do certain things and the benefits to me no longer outweigh the downsides.  So we don't include it on our image.

Lenovo provides a whole suit of applications that come on the computers.  Some things we use...some we don't.
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by:Zouleous
ID: 33425451
Mainly when people talk about "crapware" they're specifically refering to trial software that gets loaded up on the machines.  If that isn't an issue for you and you don't care about image customization then I guess it doesn't apply to you.
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by:Nate630
ID: 33426337
MAK keys are only available with Volume License Agreements from MS (http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/existing-customers/product-activation.aspx).  You should contact http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/contact-us.aspx for this question.
 
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by:eggwis
ID: 33426588
Zouleous:  My intention is to use the same process that you are using.  The point of converting them is that I've already paid Big Bad Bill for the OS license once when it came on the computer.  My current MAK# only has 5 activations available.  I don't want to turn around and pay him another for an additional 150 MAK activations @ $65 a whack.  So, if Bill will be so generous as to allow me 1 MAK activation for each license that I've already paid for, then I'm in business and I've saved $11K.
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by:eggwis
ID: 33426610
Sorry, I should have addressed the latter portion of my last post to "ekincam".
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by:eggwis
ID: 33426665
Pegoto:  I called that phone number earlier today.  It got me to the presales support desk.  The gentleman I spoke with had no idea how to do what I was asking, so he transferred me to activations.  The kind mine I spoke with there told me he couldn't help me w/o an installation code.  So I didn't get very far.  I was on a live chat with MS support last night.  The girl there told me that it is possible to do what I was asking and that if I called VLSC, they could do it for me, but thus far I haven't found any way to contact them and I can't find my way back to the live chat I was on last night.  I tried to use the VLSC website but it requires the valid business email address associated with the VLA, the Open License number, and and authorization number.  That's a problem for me because I work for a public school district and our VLA is negotiated by the state.  I'd rather muddle through Microsoft's bureacracy than the government's.  Thanks for your help none-the-less.
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by:eggwis
ID: 33426743
ekincam:  If I use KMS, don't I still have to buy licenses for the KMS clients to activate?
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by:Nate630
ID: 33428743
Whoever manages your Licensing from 'the state' needs to be the one who converts these.  As soon as you call VLSC they will ask for your email, SA#, and MAK key.  
You can delegate access to the VLSC site, so, you should also request that access from 'the state' person if your job requires you to do this.
 
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Expert Comment

by:Zouleous
ID: 33429004
Pretty sure you can do KMS activation as long as you're doing volume licensing, but it requires a KMS key.  You would not be able to do KMS until you convert the licenses (if that's possible).  Once have volume licensing you should be able to ask for a KMS key.
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Expert Comment

by:Adam Leinss
ID: 33429323
The VL is not a license itself: it is an upgrade of the OEM license, so you can't "convert" them.  However, if you use the OEM media, it uses SLP activation and it will be preserved even if you use SYSPREP.
If you want to use MAKs or KMS, you need to paid MS off.
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by:eggwis
ID: 33429449
Nate630:  Thanks.  I believe you are right.  That's what I ran into when I went to the VLSC website and that's exactly what I'm trying to work around.  I'm pretty sure that the state is not going to give me access to login to VLSC and manage the agreement.  Is possible for them to allow me to manage only our MAK numbers?
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by:Nate630
ID: 33431246
Maybe...
  https://www.microsoft.com/licensing/servicecenter/Help/faqdetails.aspx?faqname=PERMISSIONS#240  indicates that there is a role that may allow this called "Product Keys"
Really you need to find out who your VLSC administrators are and contact them.  They are the ones that approve your 'roles' in VLSC.
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Adam Leinss earned 250 total points
ID: 33431344
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by:eggwis
ID: 33441102
alienss:  why would I want to be paying Microsoft for this "upgrade"?  Aside from the obvious fact that it makes my life simpler and provides for a more efficient deployment, but doesn't that seem a bit discriminatory to you; like "ok if you have enough money to have that many computers than you have enough money to pays us more for your license than the little people."?  I work for a small public school in an economically depressed, rural area of PA.  I refer to it as "Cowtown, PA" because our economy lives on dairy farms alone.  We don't have money to payoff Bill.

Regarding the OEM media, I know.  That has proven absolutely pointless to even bother wandering down that road.

Thanks for your help.
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by:Adam Leinss
ID: 33441284
Under SA, you are allowed to install any software you want during the year and then "True up" at the end of the year for whatever you installed.  It simplifies your licensing, especially if you have a mix of hardware manufacturers since the image will portable between them.  It also offers upgrade protection (if a new OS comes out, you can immediately install it) and if you go VL, you can setup a KMS server and activate the laptops yourself without bugging Microsoft.  Virtual machine rights, roaming rights, etc.
We support a not-for-profit youth apprentice program and we used the Dell OEM disc to make the image and the school purchased MAKs for Office 2010 Standard.  I'm not sure why it would be "pointless" to go the OEM media road.  We even re-did the image for another school district using HP OEM media.  They loaded Vista on them and it they were slow and had lots of problems with their Testtaker software package. We obtained the OEM XP media from HP, used the OEM key and made an image.  Worked great.  A HP OEM disc should work on any HP regardless of the model.
In terms of saving money: look at your other software packages.  We don't use Microsoft Visio anymore, because it is awfully expensive.  We instead went with Smartdraw and their freedom licensing.  We are now looking at replacing Microsoft Project with another Gnatt type program.
You should of course talk to a licensing expert/reseller such as SoftwareOne (softwareone.com) to verify what we are telling you is true.  It even looks like they will do a free analysis for you: just click on the red icon in the bottom right hand side of the screen and setup an appointment with them.
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by:eggwis
ID: 33441866
alienss:  THAT's good stuff !  Not the answer I hoped for, but at least it's a definitive answer.  Thanks for help.
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by:eggwis
ID: 33441928
alienss:  If I use the OEM media, can I get Sysprep to strip out the product key?  . . . and I guess send out the image and then run around to every machine and enter the the product key that came with that machine?  Is that how you approached those OEM rollouts for the schools?  A buddy of mine tried that and said he wasn't able to get Sysprep to work properly stripping out the product key.  He said it didn't work well like it used to w/ XP.
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by:Adam Leinss
ID: 33442599
There's no need to strip out the product key: they are specifically blocked from online activation.  For Windows XP, you need to use 1 of 3 keys to preserve the activiation: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb457078.aspx
For Windows 7: we didn't have to do anything with a product key.  We just used the Dell OEM media, configured the image, ran sysprep and took a snapshot with imagex.  The OEM media already has the OEM certificate (XRM-MS file) and OEM product key embedded in it.  Again, the product key is blocked from online activation, so you could write it down on the whiteboard and the student's wouldn't be able to use it at home.
It's just a flat image...lay it down and it's already activated....no need to put in a product key.  We did have to manually key in and activate Office 2010 on each laptop over the Internet, but didn't have to touch the OS activation.
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by:eggwis
ID: 33443003
hmmm, I wonder why he had so much trouble with it.   He's generally pretty competent when it comes to technical things.  Oh well,  I think I'll give that a shot since it sounds like the VL bit is going to take more time than I have to play with at the moment.  Did you you guys use the \generalize switch when you sysprepped the image?
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by:Adam Leinss
ID: 33445057
Yes.  If you plan to use KMS later on, you need to generalize your image.
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