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Maintaining images for volume license with Activation requirement setup

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 04-25-2007

Posts: n/a
Maintaining images for volume license with Activation requirement
I am trying to create a Windows Vista image and am running into a problem
regarding the requirement that even volume license customers now have to
activate Vista. I will be using a MAK to activate, but my problem is not
with the activation but my ability to maintain the image over time.

My issue is that I need to have a single image that I can load on multiple
PC's (and then I would activate on each PC after the image is loaded) . To
allow the single image to be loaded on multiple PC's I have to have an
UNactivated image. To do that, I know I need to run sysprep /generalize to
reset the activation period so it will be 30 days from when the image is
loaded on a given PC rather than when Vista was originally installed on the
original PC used to make the image. However, I've read that there is a limit
of 3 times of running sysprep /generalize. This makes it impossible to
maintain the image over the long term.

The problem is that I need to update this image every 2 months with
additional software and OS patches (so it doesn't take so long to update
patches after loading the image every time). The most efficient way of doing
that is to load the current image, update the necsessary pieces, then resave
the new image. That means I have to run sysprep /generalize to reset the
activation every time I update the image before resaving it.

With this limit of 3 resets of activation, that means I can only update the
image 2 more times past the creating of the initial image. Beyond that, I
see only 2 other options.

For a small lab environment that I'm working on now I could keep a separate,
already activated, image for every PC I need to use Vista on. Then I have to
update each of those images independently, and store each separate image.
Since I'm looking at about 7 or 8 PC's in this lab, that's 7 or 8 times the
work to update every image, and 7 or 8 times the amount of disk storage to
store all the separate images. And this would be completely impractical if I
was creating an image to be used company wide on 100's of computers.

Or, I would have to recreate the image, reinstalling Vista plus all my
additional software and OS patches from scratch every 3 times I need to
update the image. Again, a lot of unnecessary work.

Either option requires an unacceptible amount of additional time and effort
to accomplish. I need to be able to load the previous image, update it, and
resave it in an unactivated state.

I can't imagine this hasn't come up in general for anyone with a volume
license who maintains their own images on Windows Vista and that they're
willing to accept the additional work required.

Or am I missing something that would make this process easier than it
appears to be now?

I would appreciate any suggestions on how to deal with this.

Thank you.

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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 05-09-2007
Brian Drab

Posts: n/a
Re: Maintaining images for volume license with Activation requirement
I feel your pain. I've been strugling with this very thing (see!183.entry)

In short there are only two options available and Microsoft is working on
making the process easier for Teaching institutions (i.e. training
environment where you have to constantly reload images) however when this
will be done no one knows.

1. Send an email to and explain your case and ask that
your MAK count be increased. If you call the activation line the limit they
can increase your count to varies from 3 to 7 (based on who you talk to)
2. Don't give your machine a key. Sysprep it and rearm each time. (You can
also use SkipRearm with sysprep - see
-bcfd-4e6dc5771ace1033.mspx?mfr=true for instance.) By using SkipRearm you
should be able to do this indefinately.

In the Volume Activation documentation
Microsoft claims that you can reactivate machines when in a Lab/Imaging
scenario by using Proxy activations. I've tried this so many different ways
and have never been able to get it to work.

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