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Microsoft Volume Activation Management Tool


Recently, our school started getting some new computers. It was decided that we should put Windows 7 on these computers, as it made sense to use the new and improved OS on the nice hardware. Using XP would be a waste really, and as we are looking towards the future, we don’t want to be stuck on old technology.

We got Windows 7 under a special agreement Microsoft has with our country’s government. We were given a MAK key to use to activate all our Windows 7 copies. The key works without a problem, but it is a bit of a pain to have to give the client computers a default gateway address first. We don’t hand out that as a safety measure on our network, so doing it on the client computers could become quite tedious. At the end of this year, we will be getting a hardware refresh in our main computer lab, and we are planning to run Windows 7 in both that lab and our second lab. Activating them manually would eat up loads of time.

Enter the Volume Activation Management Tool.

This tool is part of the Windows 7 Automated Installation Kit, a vital piece of software if you want to manage Windows Vista and 7 computers on a network. It is a free download from Microsoft, but be warned, it weighs in at over 1GB in size.

After installing, the tool can be found in your Start Menu, in a sub folder called VAMT 1.2 under Microsoft Windows AIK.

Main window of VAMT 1.2

I discovered this tool by accident, as I was searching for a way of activating a Windows 7 computer without letting it connect directly to the internet. Although you can get a product key installed during Sysprep, the need for activation is always there. It is probably my only gripe about Vista and 7 compared to XP, though I fully understand why Microsoft had to take such drastic action with its volume license keys.

In a nutshell, you enter your volume key into this tool, it checks and authorises it with Microsoft and tells you how many activations you have left on that key. A blessing since these keys are no longer infinite.

Once your Vista/7 computers are joined to the domain, you can search for them, or you can specify a computer by name/IP address

VAMT 2

Once the computer(s) have been added, you can see their licensing status in the main window. You can also create groups when adding computers, so that you have a more organised grouping.

Once you have your computers, you can activate them remotely. Basically, your management computer installs the product key onto the targets, gets an authorisation code from Microsoft and applies it to that computer. This is exactly the same thing that happens when you do it manually, but this process is more manageable, and lets you activate more computers at once.

To get this to work, your target computers need to have the WMI port open on their firewalls, so that the tool can do its job. It is a pretty straightforward tool, and the help file is well written.

I am glad I found this tool, it will now become part of my ever growing tool kit. I will be digging into the rest of the AIK soon, there are other tools in there I need to learn as well.

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