Microsoft KMS Server

The KMS Server is the Key Management Server for Microsoft product activation, primarily OS activation. An organization can configure a KMS Server to service all activation requests in the enterprise.  In order for the KMS Server to activate Windows 7, the easiest method is to install KMS on a Windows 2008 R2 server (Windows 2003 & 2008 require an update to activate Windows 2008 R2 & Windows 7).  The KMS Server will communicate with Microsoft servers on the Internet to activate the KMS license.  If the KMS Server is installed on an isolated network, KMS can be activated with a phone call.

KMS requires a KMS key for volume activation which is typically the Windows Server 2008 Standard/Enterprise KMS B activation key.  This is the key that is entered as the server’s product key at the Windows Activation window which is all that is necessary for configuring a KMS server.  There is a caveat to this; there needs to be at least 5 servers communicating with the KMS host for server activation to occur or 25 Windows 7 or Vista machines for client activation.  This single KMS key is good for 6 KMS servers, if more are needed, a call to Microsoft is necessary for more. A single KMS host can handle the activation requirements for even a very large organization with tens of thousands of machines.

The KMS license keys have letter designations that describe the Windows product type that can be activated:

  • Group A includes Server 2008 R2 Web Edition and will activate other A group servers and Windows 7/Vista Volume Editions.
  • Group B includes Server 2008 R2 Standard/Enterprise Edition and will activate B group and A group servers plus Windows 7/Vista Volume Editions.
  • Group C includes Server 2008 Datacenter and will activate A/B/C group servers and Windows 7/Vista Volume Editions.

This information can also be found on Microsoft Technet.
Office 2010 can also be activated leveraging an Office 2010 KMS host which is a separate download from Microsoft.  The Office 2010 KMS can co-exist with the KMS host that activates Windows.

Here is the information from Microsoft regarding the Office 2010 KMS host:

An Office 2010 KMS host is required if you want to use KMS activation for your volume license editions of Office 2010 suites or applications, Microsoft Project 2010 or Microsoft Visio 2010. When Office 2010 volume edition client products are installed, they will automatically search for a KMS host on your organization’s DNS server for activation. All volume editions of Office 2010 client products are pre-installed with a KMS client key, so you will not need to install a product key.

This download contains an executable file that will extract and install KMS host license files. Run this file on either 32-bit or 64-bit supported Windows operating systems. These license files are required for the KMS host service to recognize Office 2010 KMS host keys. It will also prompt you to enter your Office 2010 KMS host key and activate that key. After this is done, you may need to use the slmgr.vbs script to further configure your KMS host.

The Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) can help manage the activations.

Finding the KMS Server on your network is fairly easy.  On a Windows 2008 R2 Server or Windows 7 client, run “slmgr.vbs /dlv” on the server and it should return the name of the KMS Server.  Additional options for the slmr.vbs command are located on Microsoft TechNet.  This includes KMS Client options.

You can also do a DNS query:
nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp.adsecurity.org” (replace adsecurity.org with your actual domain name).  This give you the KMS FQDN and IP.

Note: KMS listens on port 1688, so that needs to be open to the KMS Server.

Cheers,
Sean

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