Microsoft Multiple Activation Keys (MAK) at U-M


This document provides information for system administrators about obtaining and configuring Microsoft Multiple Activation Keys (MAK).

Warning KMS highly preferred: All university machines capable of connecting to U-M's universitywide no-charge Key Management Service (KMS) server should use KMS activation.

About Multiple Activation Key (MAK)

Microsoft developed the MAK to activate licensed software on machines not able to access a U-M Key Management Service (KMS) server.

A MAK can be used when a university-owned server or workstation cannot connect to the universitywide no-charge KMS server for at least 6 months. In most cases, machines located off campus should be able to connect using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

A MAK has a significant weakness for system administrators, especially those who manage computer labs or other machines that are routinely reformatted or reimaged. It provides a limited number of activations for operating systems and other products. Each time an activation occurs, the MAK decrements the count. Activations include:

  • Installing a product.
  • Reinstalling a product.
  • Reimaging a product.
  • Making a significant physical change to a workstation, such as replacing a motherboard or hard drive.

Warning OS Images: Please do not use a MAK for OS images created in your environment. Imaged machines quickly decrease the number of available activations.

Obtaining a MAK

Contact ITS Software Services (

You must include a statement of justification regarding a machine's inability to access the U-M KMS server. For non-server machines, departments may need to purchase work-at-home media from the Computer Showcase.

Installing a MAK

  1. Log on to the workstation or server using an administrative account.
  2. From the Start menu, select Control Panel then System.
  3. At the bottom of the System control panel, click Change Product Key.
  4. In the User Account Control window, click Continue.
  5. In the Product Key field, enter the MAK and click Next.
  6. If you do not receive a Success screen, repeat these steps. Most failed MAK activations are due to temporary network connectivity issues.

Note Hardware configuration changes: You may need to reactivate the machine if you later change the hardware configuration.

Last Updated: 
Thursday, March 20, 2014