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MAK (Multiple Activation Key)

To prevent the illegal use of software, especially Office software, Microsoft has developed the famous step of product activation (or software activation). This is a form of copy protection that conditions the use of the software. In this step, unlike product registration, no user personal data is transmitted, but the software is coupled to the user's hard disk. The use of properly protected software of this kind is impossible or limited until this step is completed.

The technical sequence is always more or less the same: when installing software, the user must most of the time first enter his license key, obtained when purchasing the software. Then, the automatic installation starts, which provides for the calculation of an installation identifier from the license key and the specificities of the hard disk. These will hardly be traceable from the identifier, while the product key will be very easy to find. The identifier will then be transmitted by telephone to the manufacturer, who will then be able to check in his database the number of computers already equipped with this software. Finally, the manufacturer will generate a confirmation identifier specific to each installation from the installation identifier.

Concerning keys for volume licenses, i.e. for companies, in particular, Microsoft offers two product activation procedures that do not require any user intervention: the use of a Multiple Activation Key (MAK) or the implementation of a Key Management Service (KMS).

The MAK procedure involves putting all workstations in a workplace in direct contact with Microsoft. Another possibility is to set up a proxy-MAK, which will aggregate the requests and take care of the activation vis-à-vis Microsoft at the request of the client workstations. MAK is recommended in particular if the fleet consists of less than 25 workstations to be activated at the same time or if they have a limited Internet connection.