Consumer Vista licensing confusing? Check out the biz licensing

If you think the consumer Windows Vista licensing terms are confusing, the business licensing ones are even more complicated.

If you think the consumer Windows Vista licensing terms are confusing, the business licensing ones are even more complicated.

More than three weeks after the first reports of Microsoft’s changes in its Windows Vista End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) terms, it’s still not clear exactly what the company will and won’t allow consumers to do.

Microsoft seems to be issuing different interpretations of its EULA to different folks. They issued what seemed to be a consistent public statement to a number of reporters last week, but now I see yet another set of Microsoft-sanctioned answers to Vista licensing questions over on TechWeb.

The one thing that is certain: Microsoft’s wavering has got power users pretty riled up.

On the other side of the customer world, business users have been pretty quiet about the new Vista activation terms and conditions to which they’ll be subject.

With Vista, Microsoft is implementing a new volume-activation strategy, known internally as Volume Activation 2.0. Microsoft is planning to incorporate Volume Activation 2.0 into Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Business and Longhorn Server.

As I noted recently, via Volume Activation 2.0, Microsoft will offer customers a choice of two kinds of volume-license key services: Multiple Activation Keys (MAK), which are aimed at smaller organizations and/or isolated machines; and on-premise volume license key-management service (KMS) for networked environments with 25 or more machines.

According to a Volume Activation 2.0 frequently asked questions (FAQ) guide which I’ve had a chance to check out, here’s Microsoft’s guidance, re: business activation for Vista:

Q. How do you determine how many MAK activations a customer will receive?

A. An example is as follows. If you are a Select or EA (Enterprise Agreement) customer we will assign a default MAK activation count similar to the following:

Level A = 1000 activations

Level B = 2000 activations

Level C = 3000 activations

Level D = 4000 activations

If you purchase through eOpen we will calculate the MAK based on the number of licenses purchased.

Q. Does MAK have a maximum activation threshold? For example, if the agreement grants 100 licenses will MAK accept the 101st activation?

A. The MAK limit is based on a mathematical calculation determined by the type of agreement and the number of license purchased. If a MAK has 100 activations associated with it, activation will fail on attempt 101. The customer would call Microsoft and ask for a “re-fill,” the quantity of which is also mathematically based.

Q. What is the hardware tolerance level before the system mandates any reactivation?

A. For KMS activated machines, the hardware tolerance is based solely on the hard drive. If you change it out, you need to re-activate via KMS. For MAK activated machines it depends on what and how much of the system configuration has changed.

Q. How do hardware changes impact system reactivation requirement?

A. As long as the change is above (I am assuming this is a typo, and it should say "below")  25 points you do not need to re-activate. Here is the table to determine total points. This applies to both Windows Vista client and Longhorn server for retail activation, MAK activation and KMS activation.

 Component Class Name     Default Weight  
 IDE Adapter 3
 Physical OS Hard Drive Device Serial#   11
 Display Adapter    1
 SCSI Adapter    2
 Audio Adapter     2
 Network Adapter MAX Address   2
 Processor   3
 RAM Amount Range (i.e. 0-512mb, 512–1 GB) 1
 BIOS ID (‘0’ always matches)    9











Q. Do hardware changes require MAK reactivation count towards the total number of activations allowed for that MAK?

A. Yes

I'd add to the list:

Q: Are we confused yet?