Volume license key


Volume license key

Volume License Key (VLK) is a term used by many computer software companies to denote the product key used when installing software licensed under volume licensing, which allows a single product key to be used for multiple installations.[citation needed]

This form of licensing is typically used in business, government and educational institutions, with prices for volume licensing varying depending on the type, quantity and applicable subscription term. For example, Microsoft software available through volume licensing programs includes Windows Vista, Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Office 2007 and many others.[1]

Contents

Use of volume license keys

Volume license keys can be used to activate multiple installations of the software without any mechanism (such as a product activation mechanism) checking the total number of installations. The license for the software will place restrictions on the use of the key. Typically the license will limit the key to a fixed number of installations which must only be within the licensee's organization and also place the licensee under an obligation to keep a record of the number of installations, keep the key confidential and possibly even require that the licensee organisation makes itself available for a software licensing audit to verify that its use of the key is within the terms of the license. If a volume license key becomes known and used outside of the organisation it is licensed to then this is regarded as software piracy.[citation needed]

Volume license keys are not generally transferable between organisations; however, this can occur if the associated license agreement is transferred. If this happens, then the original licensee is required to cease all use of the key, and any software installed using it. This may occur when a company reorganises its structure, or when it sells unneeded software licences. Volume licenses are not always transferable; however, some types of Microsoft volume license can be transferred provided a formal transfer process is completed which enables Microsoft to register the new owner. A very small number of software vendors specialise in brokering such transfers in order to allow volume licenses and keys to be sold. The most notable of these is Discount-licensing.com, who were the first to establish that Microsoft volume licenses could be sold in this way.[2]

Volume Activation 2.0

Starting with Windows Vista, Microsoft replaced VLKs with Multiple Activation Keys (MAK) or with Key Management Server (KMS) keys.

  • MAK Activation may occur independently (by means of connection to Microsoft through internet or telephone activation) or through a proxy using Microsoft's Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT).
  • Hosts activated via a KMS have to report back to that key server once every 180 days.[3][4]

Unauthorized use

Since Volume Licensing sometimes bypasses activation and has no technical limits on the number of possible activations, some software pirates have exploited VLKs. Windows XP installations will bypass product activation when using a volume license key. However the product activation system will be on the system but it will say it is already activated. The FCKGW key (see below) is the most prominent example of VLK exploitation. Although to some this may seem like an easy way to circumvent Microsoft's product activation feature, each VLK is uniquely linked to the company for which it was purchased. Therefore, should the software be installed on more computers than it was licensed, Microsoft can hold the company responsible, and blacklist the product key in extreme cases.[citation needed]

Volume license keys have also been used incorrectly on Windows XP installations where the owner had a retail or OEM license to Windows XP but the person doing the installation (such as a computer repair shop) did not want to bother with activation, used disk cloning software, or did not have access to the original license.[citation needed]

Volume license keys that have been abused have been blocked by Microsoft, starting with Windows XP Service Pack 1. Microsoft argues that it does not need to cater to the needs of those who did not pay for their software. Microsoft even developed a new key verification engine for Windows XP Service Pack 2 that could detect illicit keys, even those that had never been used before. Several security consultants have condemned the move by Microsoft, saying that leaving a large install base unpatched from various security holes is irresponsible because this unpatched install base can be leveraged in large scale Internet attacks, such as trojan horses used to send spam e-mail. Others have come to Microsoft's defence, arguing that Microsoft should not have to provide support for illegal users. After much public outcry, Microsoft elected to disable the new key verification engine. Service Pack 2 only checks for the same small list of commonly used keys as Service Pack 1. This method does not completely prevent piracy, as users can generate new VLKs that will not be detected as pirated.[citation needed] Users of existing installations of Windows XP can also change their product key by following instructions from Microsoft.[5]

A small number of keys have been completely banned by Microsoft and cannot be used with any CD that has been slipstreamed with Service Pack 2. If an original Windows XP CD (or a slipstreamed copy with Service Pack 1) is used to install Windows XP, the key is accepted; however, the system will not allow any newer updates (including Service Pack 2 and 3) to be installed. Microsoft has also released the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program, which requires users of Windows XP (and other recent operating systems) to verify their copy before downloading updates and certain programs from Microsoft's website.[citation needed]

Notable keys

A volume license key that was commonly used to bypass product activation in early versions of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system started with FCKGW.[6] This key was part of the first warez release of the final version of Windows XP by a group called devils0wn, 35 days before the official retail release on August 28, 2001.[7] The key is now obsolete, as it has been blacklisted by Microsoft since August 2004, and affected computers will display a WGA notification.[8] It was made famous partly because it featured in a popular image circulated on the Internet before the retail launch of Windows XP. In the image, the key is written on a CD-R containing the leaked operating system and held in front of a digital Microsoft sign counting down the days until the release of Windows XP.[9]

Similarly, the key starting with YFKBB is a DVD key that was commonly used to activate Windows Vista over illegitimate Key Management Service servers or the GWH28 key for Office 2003. These keys have been obsolete since Q1 2008.[citation needed]

The key starting with V2C47 had been circulating as a "student" Windows XP product key that passed WGA for two years until it became blacklisted by the WGA notification applet.[citation needed]

Users using these keys will receive an error message when they install the latest service pack, and such users are told to obtain a legitimate license and change their product key.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ Microsoft. "Microsoft Volume Licensing" (in English). http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/existing-customers/product-activation.aspx. Retrieved 21 June 2010. 
  2. ^ Out-Law.com: Second-hand software licences for sale (and they're legal)
  3. ^ Top 7 Things You Should Know About Activation and Genuine Windows (PowerPoint, referred from Windows Activation | Genuine Windows 7, Vista, XP | TechNet)
  4. ^ Windows Activation Technologies in Windows 7
  5. ^ Microsoft Help and Support: How to change the product key at the time of activation
  6. ^ bit-tech.net: Microsoft outlines Vista piracy plans, Published on 5th October 2006 by Wil Harris
  7. ^ "[iSONEWS] Microsoft Windows XP Corporate Ed. *MISLABELED - NOT CORP. by DEVILS0WN". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927121139/http://www.theisonews.com/release.php?releaseid=30261. 
  8. ^ arstechnica.com: Windows Genuine Advantage for dummies By Matt Mondok | Last updated November 29, 2006 6:19 PM
  9. ^ Harsh J: More on the FCKGW-RHQQ2-YXRKT-8TG6W-2B7Q8
  10. ^ TechRepublic Get IT Done: Change the product key on Windows XP

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

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