Guide to the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Centre

The Volume Licensing Service Centre (VLSC)

The Volume Licensing Service Centre (VLSC) is the website through which organisations obtain the keys they need to activate Volume Licensing products, download or order installation software, and manage benefits such as Software Assurance.

The Microsoft products donated through CTX are Volume Licensing products. Microsoft's Volume Licensing programme provides small and large organisations with a way to acquire software and software licenses in volume quantities.

With Volume Licensing, organisations and libraries must use somewhat different procedures to activate and track their software than they would for software obtained through a store or other retail channel. They also have access to benefits that would not be available with retail software.

The VLSC requires the use of Internet Explorer for many of its functions.

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Before You Start

The following items are needed for access to the VLSC.

Business Email Address

The first person to register a new donation must have access to the email address for your organisation's CTX account. CTX sends this email address to Microsoft along with the donation request. Microsoft calls this the "business email address."

Windows Live ID

See below.

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Windows Live ID

Everyone who registers at the VLSC must have a Windows Live ID.

Normally the Windows Live ID should be the same as the organisation's business email address. For example, if the organisation's business email address is [email protected], all VLSC users in the organisation would share the Windows Live ID [email protected].

(Sometimes, it is more appropriate to use a different email address as the Windows Live ID. For example, the IT manager of SocialBenefitGroup might want to register with a personal email address. This would be fine as long as the manager has access to the [email protected] email account to confirm the registration as described below in step 5. After registration, the manager will use the personal email address for VLSC activities.)

If you don't have a Windows Live ID, take the following steps to create one. (See the important note above concerning Windows Live IDs.)

Go to to display the Create your Windows Live ID page.

Complete the form and click 'I accept'.

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First-Time Registration at the Volume Licensing Service Centre

To retrieve and manage your Microsoft volume licenses, you must first register and accept your agreement at the VLSC. You must use Internet Explorer as your browser.

For more information you can view Microsoft's How to register demo video.

The instructions below are also provided in the email that contains your agreement and license numbers.

  • Go to
  • Click 'Sign in Now'.
  • Enter your Windows Live ID email address and password; then click 'Sign in'. The VLSC checks whether you are a registered user.
  • If you aren't a registered user, confirm your business email address. This must be your organisation's email address with CTX.
  • You will receive an email that welcomes you to the Volume Licensing Service Centre and asks you to validate your information.
  • Wait at least a quarter hour and then open this email and click the link to validate your email address.
    Note: The VLSC sends this email after your user account is created, but there is a lag before the VLSC makes the terms and conditions available.
  • The link opens the VLSC page for accepting the terms and conditions of your Open License Agreement. To accept them, select the appropriate options from Country of Usage and Language (UK is not in the drop down please select USA) and click 'Display'. After you review the Open License Agreement, enter your name and click 'I Accept'.

Note: If the terms and conditions do not appear immediately, wait for a while and click the email again. It might take up to 48 hours for access to be granted. Keep the validation email and click the link in it again after a 48-hour period.

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Returning to the VLSC

Once you have registered, use this procedure to sign in.

  • Go to to display the VLSC home page.
  • Click 'Sign In' at the upper right side of the page or 'Sign in Now' in the Sign In box to display the Windows Live ID login page.

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What Products Need Keys for Activation?

Not all products that are obtained from the VLSC need keys:

  • Many server products have a setup code that is on a printed label or is provided when you download the product through the VLSC.
  • Some products have their key in the installation media (CD-ROM or DVD-ROM), so the person installing the software does not need to enter one.
  • Most license-only products, such as client access licenses, management licenses, and external connector licenses, do not require keys or codes for setup.

To look up your product and see if it requires an activation key or setup code, see Microsoft's Product Activation and Key Information page. (Products that do not appear in this page do not need keys or setup codes.)

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Obtaining Product Keys from the VLSC

Before You Start
To find your product keys, you must either be the administrator or have permission to perform the Product Keys role. See Volume Licensing Service Centre Maintaining Your Account.

Viewing Product Keys

  • Sign into the VLSC.
  • Choose Product Keys. The Product Keys page appears, showing all the products for which keys are available to you.
  • You can copy individual keys from this list or click Download all product keys to download a list of keys in CSV format (which can be opened with Excel).

Understanding the Product Key List
The product key list contains one line for each possible product key. For products with both KMS keys and MAKs, two separate product key lines will appear on the page.

The instructions and definitions provided by Microsoft are generally aimed at Volume Licensing customers who purchase software through resellers. This section is intended to explain how the terminology applies to donations obtained through CTX.

Licensing ID
Each separate donation an organisation obtains through CTX has a separate licensing ID. The licensing ID corresponds to the license number in the email sent to your organisation from CTX.

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Parent Programme

Each separate donation an organisation obtains through CTX has a separate parent programme. The parent programme name corresponds to the authorization number in the email sent to your organisation from CTX and also to the Open License agreement.

This is the name used to register your organisation with CTX.

All currently supported versions of your products appear on this page, although the product names will be slightly different from the names used by CTX. When one key applies to several related products, the product name will indicate that. For example, as of December 2010, the key for Office 2007 Applications applies to any individual application in the Office 2007 family.

Product Key:
This is the key to use for activation.

Type/MAK Activations:

  • Downloading Product Keys
    The Product Keys page provides a link to download all your keys. Although you can copy individual product keys from this list, it is a good idea to download and save the full list.

For further information and a quick tutorial on how to download your keys please click here: Product key download tutorial.

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Identifying and Using Product Keys

Some keys apply to several related products. For example, as of October 2010, the key for Office 2007 Applications applies to any individual application in the Office 2007 family.

Not all products have product keys. If you don't see your product in the list, it might have a setup code that comes with the media, or it might be a license-only product such as a client access license.

If you try a key and installation does not work, it is possible that you chose the key for a different product or licensing ID, even though the name is similar. Try one of the other keys shown.

The general rule is that the number of installations can be no more than the quantity in your CTX requests, but there are some variations, depending on the product use rights (PUR, also called terms of use) for the specific product. For details, see the Product Use Rights section of Volume Licensing Service Centre — Differences from Retail Products.

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Types of Keys

Standard Volume License Key (VLK)

Standard VLKs are provided for Microsoft Office suites and applications released prior to Office 2010 and for certain other Microsoft software. The activation process using standard VLKs is fairly simple: enter the VLK obtained through the Volume Licensing website when prompted by the software to activate it. You can use the same VLK on multiple installations of the same software if you requested multiple licenses. For example, if your donation includes 10 copies of Office 2007 Standard, you can use the Office VLK to install that product on 10 separate computers.

Multiple Activation Key (MAK)

MAKs can be used like standard VLKs: This method is called MAK independent activation, and requires that each computer independently connect with Microsoft and be activated, either over the Internet or by telephone.

MAKs also allow proxy activation. With this method, a computer acting as a MAK proxy gathers activation information from multiple computers on the network and then sends a centralized activation request on their behalf to Microsoft. MAK proxy activation is configured using the Volume Activation Management Tool.

Like standard VLKs, MAKs allow a predetermined number of activations, depending on the number of licenses an organization requests. For example, if your donation includes 10 copies of Windows 7, you can use the Windows 7 MAK to install that product on 10 separate computers.

Key Management Service (KMS) Key

In the KMS model, the KMS key is installed on only one computer in a network, known as the KMS host, and all other users on the network can activate their software from this host. This model allows users with network experience to complete activations on their local network and eliminates the need for all computers except the host to connect to Microsoft for product activation. KMS does not require a dedicated computer and can be co-hosted on a computer that provides other services.

KMS requires a minimum number of computers (physical or virtual machines) in a network environment. These minimums are referred to as activation thresholds. The threshold is different for each type of product.

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