MAK vs. KMS: Activation Methods Explained

When it comes to activating software in your organization, two primary methods are frequently used: Multiple Activation Key (MAK) and Key Management Service (KMS). Each method serves a distinct purpose and understanding the differences can help you choose the right activation method for your specific needs. In this post, we’ll explain and compare MAK and KMS activation methods.

Table of Contents:

Multiple Activation Key (MAK):

1. Individual Activation:

MAK is a simple and straightforward method where each computer or device is activated individually using a unique key provided by Microsoft.

2. No On-Premises Server:

Unlike KMS, MAK doesn’t require an on-premises server for activation. Each machine contacts Microsoft’s activation servers directly.

3. Suitable for Smaller Organizations:

MAK is typically more suitable for smaller organizations with a limited number of devices to activate.

4. Perpetual Activation:

Activation with MAK keys doesn’t rely on periodic renewals, making it a good choice for devices that don’t frequently connect to the organization’s network.

Key Management Service (KMS):

1. Centralized Activation:

KMS uses a centralized server to activate multiple devices within an organization. The server handles activation requests from client machines.

2. Suitable for Larger Organizations:

KMS is often the preferred choice for larger organizations with a substantial number of devices to activate.

3. Volume Activation:

KMS requires a minimum number of devices (usually 25 or more) to be activated before it can operate. It’s designed for volume licensing.

4. Periodic Renewals:

KMS activations are temporary and must periodically renew by connecting to the organization’s KMS server, which is ideal for devices within the network.

Choosing the Right Activation Method:

1. MAK for Simplicity:

If your organization is small, or you have devices that don’t frequently connect to the network, MAK might be the simpler choice.

2. KMS for Larger Networks:

If your organization is larger, with multiple devices needing activation, and you prefer centralized control and periodic renewals, KMS is the way to go.

3. Hybrid Approaches:

In some cases, organizations use both MAK and KMS, applying each method where it’s most suitable for specific device groups.


In conclusion, choosing between MAK and KMS activation methods depends on the size of your organization, the need for centralized control, and the frequency of device activation. Carefully assess your requirements to select the most suitable method for software activation in your organization.