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In my quest to bring you as many unique Office 14 details as I can, I’ve managed to dig up quite a bit of information; so much, as a matter of fact, that I’m going to start a new mini-series of articles here titled, “Office 14 Revealed.” (I bet you didn’t see THAT one coming, did you?) In this mini-series, I’m going to approach individual details I’ve discovered about Office 14 that aren’t currently public. In part 1, we’re going to take a very brief look at how Microsoft plans to approach corporate activation in Office 14.

If you’re up-to-date with how Microsoft has gone about corporate activation with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 (and more than likely Windows 7), then you’re familiar with Volume Activation 2.0. If not, then let me introduce you to MAK and KMS:

MAK (Multiple Activation Key): A key with an alloted number of activations which is given to a corporation. If that number of activations runs out, said corporation can contact their Microsoft Activation Center and purchase more. For instance, let’s say your corporation has 100 computers and you don’t want 100 individual licenses to have to install on each computer. With a VLM (Volume License Media) disc from Microsoft, you could either create an image of your install which uses the same key or you could go around and manually install on each computer while still using just one key. When it comes time to activate, computers can either connect individually to Microsoft’s servers or a tool called the VAMT (Volume Activation Management Tool) can be used to activate multiple computers through one connection to Microsoft’s servers or via phone.

KMS (Key Management Service): This is a service you run locally which activates computers in your network without having to connect to Microsoft’s servers, though the machine you specify as the KMS machine will need to be activated via Microsoft. For Vista and Windows Server 2008, there is a minimum number of computers you must have to run a KMS environment.

License Management with Office 14: The implementation of Volume Activation 2.0 in Office 14 is the fruition of the obvious success Microsoft has seen with it. Via KMS usage, organizations will be able to authenticate individual Office 14 licenses on-demand. As implied by the description of MAKs above, organizations will be able to manage “blocks” of keys. These two methods will help allow organizations to keep track of what’s deployed, how many activations are remaining, and protect their volume license keys from theft. Unlike with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, it’s currently unclear as to if Microsoft has a minimum set for the number of machines an organization needs to have to implement a KMS environment but it’s probably safe to assume they will to make it worth it for both an organization and themselves.

As noted by Microsoft regarding Volume Activation 2.0, “In the future, Volume Activation 2.0 technology will also be included in other Microsoft products.” That time is now as Office 14 will see the inclusion of Volume Activation 2.0.

Part 2 soon.


1 Comment

  1. That’s great! That was a feature I have been wanting in Office for a long time!

    No really – they are taking some major risks with this. Windows Vista was absolutely the wrong product to have the VLK 2.0 in and it flopped and that gave people another reason not to upgrade. Now this will give people yet another reason to stay with Office 12 or look to cloud computing offerings. They are shooting themselves in the foot with this.

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