This topic is important if you travel away from campus for lengthy periods of time.

What is activation and how does it affect me?

Activation is the process of validating software with its manufacturer. Activation confirms the genuine status of a product and that the product key has not been compromised. Microsoft products have two kinds of activation: Key Management Service (KMS) and Multiple Activation Key (MAK).

When Windows is used on campus, the activation happens automatically and is renewed every 7 days. If you are not on campus when the renewal activation takes place, you will receive a pop-up notice after 180 days (on opening the application) informing you that activation is required. After this, Windows will go into a reduced functionality mode and will require reactivation.

Activation away from campus

If you use your computer away from UCT for more than 180 days at a stretch you will need to connect to the UCT network via VPN so that the software license can be renewed. This will be necessary if you are on sabbatical or if you are stationed at one of the off-campus sites, such as SATVI.

NOTE: For activation to complete successfully, please ensure that the date, time and regional settings on your machine are correct.

Which activation method to use?

If you have Internet access

KMS activation via VPN is the preferred method for activation of machines off campus. Once the machine is connected to the UCT network using VPN, the activation of the software will complete automatically via KMS.

The Key Management Service (KMS) is the preferred method for activating Windows. All UCT-owned machines that connect to the UCT network with Windows should use this method.

KMS is a server-based activation technology that automatically activates the relevant installation keys on your machine for a period of 180 days. It does this by checking your installation every 7 days to see that it is still valid, and then resets its licence counter back to 180 days. This is managed automatically for all machines connecting to the UCT network. KMS can activate an unlimited number of UCT Windows installations.

If you are not connected to the UCT network when the 7 day check is due, your machine will attempt to connect to the KMS server every 2 hours for 180 days until it is able to make a successful connection.

If you do not have Internet access

You will need to use a Multiple Activation Key (MAK). This is not an automatic process and you need to contact ICTS in order to get a MAK key. There are a limited number of activation keys so ICTS will only allocate a key to you if this is deemed necessary. Please log a call with the IT Helpdesk (log the call online, send email to or phone x4500).

The Multiple Activation Key is used for one-time activation through Microsoft's hosted activation services. MAK licence keys require an Internet connection in order to connect to Microsoft servers for validation and activation. ICTS will only allocate a key to you if this is deemed necessary as there are a limited number of these keys. Please log a call with the IT Helpdesk (log the call online, send email to or phone 4500).

NOTE: When your machine returns to campus after MAK activation (or if the machine is decommissioned), you must contact the IT Helpdesk so that the MAK key can be converted to a KMS key.