KMS vs MAK: Difference and Comparison

Microsoft offers some products to its users, like Windows Vista, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Office 2008 and 2013, and many other items.

The company made a compulsion to use Volume Activation keys to authenticate the said items on the different operating systems. The users have two options: Key Management System (KMS) or the Multiple Activation Key (MAK).

Key Takeaways

  1. KMS is a local activation method that requires a network connection, while MAK is a one-time activation method that requires a product key.
  2. KMS is suitable for large organizations that require frequent activation, while MAK is suitable for smaller organizations that require occasional activation.
  3. KMS can activate multiple computers using a single key, while MAK requires a separate key for each computer.


KMS (Key Management Service) is an activation method for Microsoft products used for large organizations that need to activate many computers at once, while MAK (Multiple Activation Key) is another activation method by Microsoft that is used for smaller organizations or individual users.


KMS, or the Key Management System, is one of the Volume Activation Keys provided by the Microsoft company that enables to activate the different services such as the – Activation of Windows Office, Microsoft Windows, etc.

The activation of the services done by the KMS method ensures the authentic license by the Microsoft Company.

MAK, or the Multiple Activation Key, is also one of the Volume Activation Keys that is provided by the Microsoft company that enables and activates the different services offered by them.

The process of licensing the product is different from that of KMS. The MAK offers only a single-time activation of the product hosted by the authentication server.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonKMSMAK
Full FormKey Management SystemMultiple Activation Key
First Time ActivationIt is an automatic process.It is not an automatic process and requires to use of ‘enter’ key
Hardware ChangeIt is automaticIt must require re-activation
Remote WorkstationsRequires WAN/VPNRe-activation doesn’t require. Thus, it never expires.
Servers Minimum CountAbout 5 computersNo minimum limit
Workstation Minimum CountAbout 25 computersNo minimum limit

What is KMS?

KMS, or Key Management System, is said to be part of the Volume Activation Key provided by the Microsoft company itself to activate the various services offered by them. It is a method mainly used by an organization that wants to keep its computers within the same corporate network.

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The KMS (Key Management System) was introduced by the company right after the introduction of Volume Activation Technology. And the system allowed its users to activate the services within their network.

Considering the installation process of the KMS system, it is more convenient and easier as it recognizes it via the help of DNS and installs it.

The KMS system was built to support their enterprise customers and made it compatible with Windows Vista and Windows 2008.

One of the advantages of the KMS system that has been observed is that after the first installation of Windows on the system, the same key can be used to reinstall the Windows on the same system or another one.

This is also the reason behind the reactivation of the Windows after every 180 days activated by the KMS key; otherwise, the activation key gets expires.


What is MAK?

MAK or Multiple Activation Keys is also one of the parts of Volume Activation Key, which are provided by the Microsoft company itself to activate the various services of the company which the company itself offers.

The MAK system method is used to activate the one-time basis of the software via the help of hosted authenticated server. The system can be used to activate one or more computers. 

As the MAK key system is used to activate software or operating system authentically on one or more computers. The MAK activation can be completed in two ways, which are given below –

  • MAK Independent Activation – With this process, one computer is authenticated and activated with the help of the internet or telephone. This is done after the installation of the key, and it activates the servers of Microsoft.
  • MAK Proxy Activation – When the software needs to be installed on more than one computer, then it is required to send the requests from the computer with the help of the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT), and this tool establishes a network from the internet or telephone connection to the Microsoft. The tool collects all the information IDs from the computers and then sends them back to Microsoft, which then sends back the confirmation IDs and installs them on the client computers. 

Main Differences Between KMS and MAK

  1. The KMS stands for the Key Management System, while on the other hand, the MAK stands for the Multiple Activation Key. 
  2. While performing the activation of the services for the first time, the KMS performs the process automatically, while on the other hand, the MAK process is not an automatic process and thus requires the use of the ‘enter key.’
  3. The KMS does not require hardware change and is automatic, while on the other hand, the activation of MAK requires the reactivation of the hardware. 
  4. The KMS method does require Internet services or Microsoft licensing servers to complete the procedure, while on the other hand, the MAK method does not require internet services, and also there is no need to reactivate the services. 
  5. The KMS can connect about 5 computers with the same server, while on the other hand, in the MAK method, there is no minimum limit for the same.
  6. The KMS system may work with up to 25 computers, whereas, on the other hand, the MAK system doesn’t have any minimum working system limit. 
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Last Updated : 12 July, 2023

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20 thoughts on “KMS vs MAK: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The comparison table is particularly helpful in understanding the practical differences between KMS and MAK. It’s a very informative article overall.

    • Absolutely, Brandon. The table makes it easy to see the distinctions between KMS and MAK, and how they apply to different scenarios.

  2. The comparison between KMS and MAK is very informative. It offers a clear understanding of the specific use cases for each activation method.

    • I’m in agreement, Lewis82. The comparisons and detailed explanations are extremely useful in gaining a deeper understanding of Microsoft’s activation process.

  3. I appreciate the detailed comparison between KMS and MAK. It’s helpful to fully understand the key differences between the two activation methods.

    • I agree, Ella. Understanding the parameters of comparison and the specific features of each method is very insightful.

  4. The explanations of KMS and MAK are very insightful. The practical applications of each method are clearly outlined, making it easy to understand.

  5. This article provides a clear and concise explanation of KMS and MAK. It’s a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about Microsoft’s activation methods.

  6. Very interesting information. I didn’t know the difference between KMS and MAK before reading this article.

    • Yes, this is a very comprehensive explanation of the difference between KMS and MAK. It’s really useful to understand how each one works.

  7. I found the section on KMS and MAK to be incredibly informative. The details on the specific processes for activation were especially useful.

    • I completely agree. The clarity provided in this article makes it much easier to understand how activation works for Microsoft products.

  8. This article offers a thorough exploration of KMS and MAK. It’s a valuable resource for anyone needing to understand the differences between the two methods.

  9. The detailed descriptions of both KMS and MAK are incredibly helpful. This article provides a comprehensive understanding of Microsoft’s activation keys.

  10. The descriptions of KMS and MAK are very informative. This is a comprehensive article that provides a detailed look at Microsoft’s activation keys.


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