Did you download Windows 8 Enterprise using your MSDN or TechNet subscription for testing in your lab? As the full-featured "business edition" of Windows 8, the Enterprise SKU defaults to using corporate Volume License activation on a business network. On a business network, this process provides a simplified end-user activation experience, because Windows 8 Enterprise automatically determines which servers to activate against using DNS without you needing to manage individual activation keys for each PC. To learn more about the Windows 8 Volume License activation process on a business network and the new Active Directory-based activation process, click here.
But, what if I'm testing Windows 8 Enterprise in an isolated lab environment?
This VL activation process works well in a business environment to simplify and automate the overall activation experience, but if you're testing Windows 8 Enterprise in an isolated environment, then you'll encounter an error during the activation process and activation will not successfully complete. This is because your Windows 8 Enterprise PC cannot find the appropriate DNS records to determine how to automatically activate. But, there's an alternative! In your TechNet and/or MSDN subscription portal, you have the ability to claim a "Multiple Activation Key" (MAK) for activating Windows 8 Enterprise by clicking the "Product Keys" button. The MAK is an alternative Product Key that doesn't require the same corporate VL activation process on a business network.
Great! I've got my MAK - What do I do now?
To enter your MAK on Windows 8 Enterprise and successfully activate, you can complete one of the following steps:
Enter your MAK in the "Product Key" field shown above, click the "Activate" button and you should be good to go!
Be sure to check out these additional resources:
Keith Mayer is a Principal Technical Architect at Microsoft, focused on helping ISV partners leverage the Azure cloud platform. Keith has over 20 years of experience as a technical leader of complex IT projects, in diverse roles, such as Network Engineer, IT Manager, Technical Instructor and Consultant. He has consulted and trained thousands of customers and partners worldwide on design of enterprise technology solutions.
Keith is currently certified on several Microsoft technologies, including Azure, Private Cloud, System Center, Hyper-V, Windows, Windows Server, SharePoint, SQL Server and Exchange. He also holds other industry certifications from VMware, IBM, Cisco, Citrix, HP, CheckPoint, CompTIA and Interwoven.
You can contact Keith online at http://aka.ms/AskKeith.