back to article Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2: Quick start guide for sysadmins

Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 are now officially available. New shiny toys for the kids, but how does a sysadmin license these new products? This post assumes you're already up and running with Windows 8 and Server 2012, but I'll quickly go over the basic requirements: You'll need to obtain your Server Key Management …


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  1. TheVogon

    Or you can just use MAK keys and avoid all that bs....

    1. AdamFowler_IT

      MAK keys are fine if you're happy to add them manually for every single OS instance you have.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "MAK keys are fine if you're happy to add them manually for every single OS instance you have."

        Or just include them in the build task sequence config....

        1. AdamFowler_IT

          True, but there is an overall limit as to how many times a MAK can be used, and if anyone finds the key it can be used anywhere. Not sure but I recall some sort of daily limit on MAK activation per IP address?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            " but there is an overall limit as to how many times a MAK can be used"

            Which depends on your ELA agreement and true-ups. It should last well over a year if you were honest.....There is no daily activation limit I am aware of.

  2. J. Cook Silver badge

    I'm rather use KMS keys than MAK keys...

    Another good tip to know: the KMS host can run on just about anything: dedicated server, park it with one of your AD servers, or even the admin's own workstation.

    Just be absolutely certain that there's only *one* KMS host in the organization- if a second one appears, it'l mess things up something fierce. (Don't ask me how I know this.)

    1. AdamFowler_IT

      Re: I'm rather use KMS keys than MAK keys...

      You're right. I believe there is a way to run multiple servers but not just by adding a second one the same way you do the first :)

  3. btrower

    License key madness

    Am I the only one who finds the ongoing Microsoft licensing onerous? What a pain. What really kills me though is free software parroting the annoyance of stopping to confirm licensing when it is not necessary. What's the deal with that?

    1. firefly

      Re: License key madness

      Microsoft seems to have forgotten that lax use of VL keys, and dare I say piracy have helped get them get where they are.

      If they had KMS and MAK activation back in the 1990s, we'd all be running Linux on our desktops today.

      I used to have a TechNet subscription but they just shitcanned that and are forcing everyone to get an MSDN sub for ten times the cost. Sometimes I wonder if they want us to use their products at all.

      1. AdamFowler_IT

        Re: License key madness

        Not sure on that, maybe everyone would just deal with having the watermark constantly on their desktop?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what about Datacentre licenses? You only get a key for 2012 - what do you do if you want to run 2008/3?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A 2012R2 KMS key will activate all down level severs back to 2008 and clients back to Vista, a KMS running on 8.1 will activate all clients back to Vista. Networked KMS did not exist before then.

  5. oceanhippie

    And reboot

    Sums M$ up really.

  6. Tezfair

    KMS and all that nonsense

    And they wonder why smaller businesses are staying on older versions

    1. AdamFowler_IT

      Re: KMS and all that nonsense

      It's not that bad, once you do this you don't have to worry about keys again... Till the next version of Windows comes out.

  7. Hasselhoffia

    Alternatively you could investigate Active Directory Based Activation which was introduced with Windows 8/2012 and activates the client on Domain join. Will eventually replace the KMS services. You don't need to be running a W2012 domain, just have extended the AD schema using ADPrep.

  8. W. Anderson

    Windows "Toy" operating systems.

    After reading a report, taken from the Snowden revelations that the US NSA was spying on "friendly, Democratic" nations, even e-mail of the President of Mexico, it would be incredulous that any government, business or organization in other countries who have any common sense and/or technological competence would implement "shiny new toys" Microsoft Windows 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 desktop software, not only because these software applications are considerably less reliable, less robust/powerful and less secure (and a lot more costly) when compared to enterprise Linux or BSD solutions like RedHat Enterprise Linux, Suse Enterprise Linux or FreeBSD Enterprise Server solutions, but that Microsoft can still provide the NSA access to their Operating Systems' "back doors" directly, or notify the NSA of OS bugs and vulnerabilities - by which the NSA can surreptitiously' obtain client data.

    As the article author noted, "nice toys" and nothing more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows "Toy" operating systems.

      "these software applications are considerably less reliable, less robust/powerful and less secure (and a lot more costly) when compared to enterprise Linux or BSD solutions like RedHat Enterprise Linux, Suse Enterprise Linux or FreeBSD Enterprise Server solutions"

      Which is all demonstrably false - except I would agree FreeBSD is more secure (in terms of security vulnerabilities) than the others. Free BSD is however subject to the same inherent security capability limitations as Redhat and Suse though - for instance having to run a process as root (SUDO) to get elevated rights unlike the proper constrained delegation in Windows, and an insecure monolithic kernel model as compared to the proper separation of drivers and kernel in Windows....

      Windows performs better on the same hardware, costs less to license and run and is more reliable, and has far fewer security vulnerabilities that are on average fixed faster than SUE and RedHat though....

      1. Bill Posters

        Re: Windows "Toy" operating systems.

        Play nice you two, I came on here to get away from the threat of flames for a few mionutes.

        All have their place, all environments are heterogeneous to some extent and hey, They even play nice together most of the time..

      2. W. Anderson

        Re: Windows "Toy" operating systems.

        Those vulnerabilities you indicate on FreeBSD and Linux do not exist in mre modern, later than maybe releases from 2005.

        Just recently" Netflix chose FreeBSD over Windows 2012 for securely and efficiently streaming millions of movies to subscribers each week. Their comprehensive Microsoft evaluations failed in every respect of reliability, scalability, flexibility and especially robust security. Verisign, one of the largest Domain Certificate authorities beefed up it's FreeBSD and core infrastructure Linux infrastructure to cope with substantially increased demand and Internet security concerns.

        Both of these technology companies, as well as IBM, Yahoo, Fujitsu as well as all the Financial Stock exchanges and many more of the Fortune 1000 have specifically determined that these FOSS Enterprise OS were superior in functions indicated. Two industry respected companies - Juniper Networks and New york Internet have conducted comprehensive evaluations to report to the superiority of FreeBSD and Enterprise Linux over latest Windows in security, reliability and performance.

        Your "opinion" compared to the technological experience and expertise of these companies is therefore of no consequence, and particularly without any 'verified, documented technical' supporting and independent reports

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Windows "Toy" operating systems.

          @W Anderson - You write as if the only direction of traffic is from MS to "anything except MS", you also represent companies like IBM as if they no longer have any staff or software running on Windows, which is as near totally wrong as you can get.

          I've been puzzled recently that there are many companies moving TO Windows and particularly Exchange and that these companies have been some of the ones you would expect to be classic non-MS users. Fasthosts by default run Windows/Exchange as your mail provider, as do Demon/Thus/Vodafone, Reading Uni and Oxford Unis are doing the same. These are classic places where you'd expect Linux/FreeBSD, but they're moving away. Does this mean that everyone uses MS? No, but it equally suggests that you're trying to make the choices of a few companies fit your pre-judged ideas about Windows.

          1. W. Anderson

            Re: Windows "Toy" operating systems.

            Anonymous Coward - I did not say that "every company" is moving away from Microsoft. I did indicate what Netflix, Verisign, IBM Oracle, Yahoo, Google, Facebook,Amazon, NASA, most of the 27 governments of the European union - representing approximately 4000 million people, Twitter, Linked-In, Every, repeat Every, repeat Every financial Stock Exchange on this earth. most of the Banking systems internationally - meaning the world globe have decided in choosing Linux/FreeBSD overwhelmingly, and in most exclusively versus Microsoft Windows, even 2012 R2 release. Windows Desktop PCs do not count in this topic of Server OS software.

            Exactly how many more of the top 10,000 largest corporations, organizations, governments and other planets in the solar system do you need to know about who prefer and chose FreeBSD or Linux, before you stop pulling a few small ISP and other entities out of your head in senseless denial of facts.

            No one is talking about absolutes, and asinine, convoluted excuses and arguments just don't cut it.

  9. MacGyver

    Not going to happen.

    I'll use Server 2008 R2 until I can push my employer to switch to a Linux based solution. 2012 is a joke.

    Microsoft has basically taken themselves out of the computer operating system business by forcing their phone's stupid GUI on traditional computer users, hopefully they have something else to fall back on.

    No one likes their phone, their newest tablet OS bricks the hardware of their own overpriced tablets, the draconian DRM of their newest console will be driving customers to their direct competitors, and they can't even give away their newest OS to computer users. Is there anything they have done lately that hasn't been a huge failure?

    1. MHzBurglar

      Re: Not going to happen.

      They are in the process of replacing Steve Ballmer... I'd consider that a win, as he seems to be more-or-less a driving force behind their current business direction that led to all those failures.

  10. Nlaurino

    What Key Can I Use?

    Can I use our Windows 2012 Datacenter key on Windows 2012 R2?

    I check our Volume licensing site and when I tried to get the key for my 2012 R2 it said to contact MS. We have an enterprise agreement so the keys should be available.



    1. AdamFowler_IT

      Re: What Key Can I Use?

      Are you using a MAK or KMS key? I'm guessing MAK - but either way I can see both under the VLSC I have access to, under Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter.

      Maybe your agreement has expired, or you have no datacenter license currently? Either way I'd take the webistes advice and contact an account manager.

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