Windows 7 and KMS

Before we started imaging machines with Windows 7, I thought I better get this KMS stuff figured out. For those of you who skipped Vista like we did, KMS is Key Management Service. It’s an interesting way of activating volume license keys on a network, and is a result of software piracy. Regardless of whether we like it or not, it’s here and we have to deal with it. I followed all of the documentation in the Volume Activation 2.0 Planning Guide but when I went to enter my Windows 7 KMS key onto my Windows 2008 Server that is my KMS Host, I received an error message (0xC004F015) and was unable to proceed. After more reading, making phone calls, and ultimately opening a support case with Microsoft, I have found the answer.

When installing a product key for Windows 7 into your KMS host, you need to install a Windows 2008 R2 product key instead. Apparently the Windows 2008 R2 product key also activates Windows 7 clients. Another caveat, don’t install the Windows 7 KMS license code actually on a Windows 7 computer. If you do, it turns your machine into a Windows 7 KMS host and will activate other clients on your network (but if you decide to do this anyway, make sure the computer is always on and probably not someone’s laptop). There is a generic product key that you need to install on your Windows 7 clients that will be activating against your onsite KMS. You can read this article for more information, as well as the product keys.

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