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Symptoms

Microsoft Windows Activation errors are encountered when a customer attempts to activate a Microsoft Volume License version of Windows 7 or Windows Vista via a KMS server on a Lenovo ThinkPad system purchased without an OEM Windows license.  (DOS installed)

Diagnosis

 Lenovo implemented a BIOS change where the SLIC table is visible on both Windows and non-Windows systems purchased from Lenovo.  This change has been phased into products beginning in the Fall of 2010 and as of May 2011 is implemented on all Lenovo products.  

 

For systems purchased from Lenovo with an OEM license for Windows a Windows marker file is populated into the SLIC table.  Many of Lenovo’s business customers also purchase a Microsoft Volume License for Windows, which requires the customer to have an initial Windows license for each client system as a prerequisite to the Windows Volume License.  

 

As part of the Microsoft Volume License process for Windows 7 and Windows Vista, many customers use a KMS server to activate the Volume License copy of Windows.  The KMS Volume License activation process checks for a valid Windows marker file in the SLIC table of the system BIOS to verify the system came with the prerequisite Windows license.  

 

On systems that are purchased without an OEM Windows license, the KMS activation process for a Windows Volume License will not see a Windows marker in the SLIC table in BIOS, which results in an activation error.  

 

Note: For customers purchasing retail copies of Windows licenses, the retail copy can install on a Lenovo system sold without Windows and will not do produce any activation errors. 

Solution

Customers experiencing the KMS activation errors on Lenovo systems purchased without an OEM Windows license should contact their Microsoft Volume Licensing representative to resolve the licensing issue.  

 

Customers in Germany and Austria transferring the prerequisite Windows license from another system prior to applying a Windows Volume License copy, must activate the Windows Volume License copy by using the MAK key process instead of a KMS server.  

 

MAK keys can be obtained from Microsoft’s VLSC portal.  
Microsoft Volume License Windows upgrade license FAQ: http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/product-licensing-faq.aspx#tab=2
MAK key instructions: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff793435.aspx 

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