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Vista Business 64bit SP1 - Imaging in a corporate environment RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello,

    I create and maintain images for a large company. I'm working on an image for Vista business 64 SP1 and I can't get my head around the activation. I need to be able to have a non activated PC that I can make changes to and update as my company requires and then sysprep for mass deployment. I know that you cannot sysprep a PC that has been activated, so where does this leave me? I tried slmgr -rearm after changing the registry key, but that doesn't work, my system still shows that it needs to be activated within 17 days. Does slmgr -rearm no longer work with SP1? These images are quite large and involve a lot of software and customizations, I cannot imagine that Microsoft would be so irresponsible as to force tech's to start from scratch every time an image has to be updated. For example, I load a PC with vista and it takes a week for me to get it fully ready for deployment. I deploy the image, but someones needs something added on day 31, do I need to start the entire process over because my baseline PC just went into RFM mode?

    -I'm a using a Volume license version.
    -I'm concerned about the "technician PC" (being forced to activate after 30 days) that I create and update the images on, NOT the end product...users can be forced to activate.

    Please help,

    M
    Friday, February 20, 2009 7:48 PM

Answers

  • Good news, I got a good response from a Microsoft tech.  I'll post it here for everyone encountering the same issue.

    <!--[if gte mso 10]&gt; Hello Mark,

     

    Actually there is a slight change in the action plan. Instead of activating the Base Vista Machine(the one being syspreped) before running sysprep is not required. Also Skip rearm option under generalize is not going to help in this case. I am attaching the documentation regarding the same, which has been taken from technet(explanation of rearm.). The permanent solution in this case is to use Vista SP1 machine to create image. Do not use Vista RTM for sysprep. The reason for it is mentioned below

     

    Link :- http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc308698.aspx#_Notifications_vs._RFM

    Notifications vs. RFM

    Microsoft introduced a new notifications-based experience with Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 to differentiate between a genuine and activated copy of Windows and one that is not, and does so in a way that maintains system functionality such as logon, access to the familiar desktop, etc.  Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM) has been removed from Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 and replaced with a notifications-based experience. If Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 systems are not activated within the Initial Grace period or an Out of Tolerance Grace period, persistent notifications will alert users of the need to activate.  While in the notification condition, the system will function normally, with these exceptions:

    • The desktop background is black
    • A KMS host cannot activate or renew KMS clients
    • Windows® Update installs only critical updates; optional downloads marked as Genuine Only are not available

    Activation Grace Periods and Re-arms

    All grace periods for all editions and channels (Retail, OEM/System Builder and Volume License) of Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Vista RTM are 30 days. All editions of Windows Vista can be re-armed up to three times with the exception of Windows Vista Enterprise SP1 which can be re-armed up to five times.

    The initial grace period for Windows Server 2008 RTM is 60 days for all editions and channels (Retail, OEM/System Builder and Volume License).  However, the Out of Tolerance Grace period is 30 days. All editions of Windows Server 2008 RTM can be re-armed up to three times

    Secondly, if you still want to use Vista RTM as the base machine for sysprep, you can create a batch file with the following command in it “slmgr.vbs –rearm” or you can use script to run it. It will allow you to use the machine for next 30 days.

     

    Explanation for SkipRearm(why we can not use it)

    Resetting Windows Activation

    When you install Windows with a single license product key, you have 30 days during which you must activate that installation of Windows. If you do not activate Windows within the 30 day period and do not reset the activation clock, Windows will enter RFM (Reduced Functionality Mode). This mode prevents users from logging on to the computer until Windows is activated.

    There is no limit to the number of times Sysprep can run on a computer. However, the clock for Windows Product Activation begins its countdown the first time Windows starts. You can use the sysprep /generalize command to reset Windows Product Activation a maximum of three times. After the third time you run the sysprep /generalize command, the clock can no longer be reset.

    When you run the sysprep /generalize command, the activation clock will automatically reset. You can bypass resetting the activation clock by using the SkipRearm setting in the Microsoft-Windows-Security-Licensing-SLC component. This enables you to run Sysprep multiple times without resetting the activation clock. For more information about this setting, see the Unattended Windows Setup Reference.

    Link :-  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc766514.aspx (Please go through this link, it can give you other options as well. Choose which ever suits you.)

     

    So basicallly, they killed the 30 day activation reduced functionality mode with SP1 which is great new!!  The new mode will allow me to do my updates and such without a hassel...sysrep...vu a la, updated image.

    There must have been enough complaints and forced M$ to fix their broken policy.

     

    I hope this helps.

     

    M

     

    • Marked as answer by Funmaxx Tuesday, March 3, 2009 4:06 PM
    Tuesday, March 3, 2009 4:06 PM

All replies

  •  

    Hello,

     

    For this issue, I suggest referring to the following articles first:

     

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc766514.aspx (The Resetting Windows Activation section)

    http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2007/03/bypassing-product-activation-on-corporate-ultimate-versions-of-vista.ars

    http://computerperformance.co.uk/vista/vista_activation_hack_skiprearm.htm

     

    Hope it helps.

     

    Tim Quan - MSFT

     

    Monday, February 23, 2009 3:58 AM
    Moderator
  •  Automate the build/sysprep/capture process using tools like MDT, so that you can regenerate/update the reference machine whenever you want... I use virtual machines for my reference images...
    Monday, February 23, 2009 1:09 PM
  • Thanks for the links Tim.  As I stated, I've tried the regedit > Skiprearm + slmgr -rearm and it doesn't work.  It kept coming back with the same amount of days remaining.  I read another article that said to make sure that skiprearm with left at zero and then do the slmgr -rearm.  I did that, rebooted and then I had 3 days left :(  Luckily, I created a ghost image prior to trying this.

    Johan,

    can you please elaberate on your process a bit please.  I really like the idea of using VM's but I need to convice my overlords to buy me some new gear first.

    thanks again,

    M
    Monday, February 23, 2009 5:23 PM
  • Good news, I got a good response from a Microsoft tech.  I'll post it here for everyone encountering the same issue.

    <!--[if gte mso 10]&gt; Hello Mark,

     

    Actually there is a slight change in the action plan. Instead of activating the Base Vista Machine(the one being syspreped) before running sysprep is not required. Also Skip rearm option under generalize is not going to help in this case. I am attaching the documentation regarding the same, which has been taken from technet(explanation of rearm.). The permanent solution in this case is to use Vista SP1 machine to create image. Do not use Vista RTM for sysprep. The reason for it is mentioned below

     

    Link :- http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc308698.aspx#_Notifications_vs._RFM

    Notifications vs. RFM

    Microsoft introduced a new notifications-based experience with Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 to differentiate between a genuine and activated copy of Windows and one that is not, and does so in a way that maintains system functionality such as logon, access to the familiar desktop, etc.  Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM) has been removed from Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 and replaced with a notifications-based experience. If Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 systems are not activated within the Initial Grace period or an Out of Tolerance Grace period, persistent notifications will alert users of the need to activate.  While in the notification condition, the system will function normally, with these exceptions:

    • The desktop background is black
    • A KMS host cannot activate or renew KMS clients
    • Windows® Update installs only critical updates; optional downloads marked as Genuine Only are not available

    Activation Grace Periods and Re-arms

    All grace periods for all editions and channels (Retail, OEM/System Builder and Volume License) of Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Vista RTM are 30 days. All editions of Windows Vista can be re-armed up to three times with the exception of Windows Vista Enterprise SP1 which can be re-armed up to five times.

    The initial grace period for Windows Server 2008 RTM is 60 days for all editions and channels (Retail, OEM/System Builder and Volume License).  However, the Out of Tolerance Grace period is 30 days. All editions of Windows Server 2008 RTM can be re-armed up to three times

    Secondly, if you still want to use Vista RTM as the base machine for sysprep, you can create a batch file with the following command in it “slmgr.vbs –rearm” or you can use script to run it. It will allow you to use the machine for next 30 days.

     

    Explanation for SkipRearm(why we can not use it)

    Resetting Windows Activation

    When you install Windows with a single license product key, you have 30 days during which you must activate that installation of Windows. If you do not activate Windows within the 30 day period and do not reset the activation clock, Windows will enter RFM (Reduced Functionality Mode). This mode prevents users from logging on to the computer until Windows is activated.

    There is no limit to the number of times Sysprep can run on a computer. However, the clock for Windows Product Activation begins its countdown the first time Windows starts. You can use the sysprep /generalize command to reset Windows Product Activation a maximum of three times. After the third time you run the sysprep /generalize command, the clock can no longer be reset.

    When you run the sysprep /generalize command, the activation clock will automatically reset. You can bypass resetting the activation clock by using the SkipRearm setting in the Microsoft-Windows-Security-Licensing-SLC component. This enables you to run Sysprep multiple times without resetting the activation clock. For more information about this setting, see the Unattended Windows Setup Reference.

    Link :-  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc766514.aspx (Please go through this link, it can give you other options as well. Choose which ever suits you.)

     

    So basicallly, they killed the 30 day activation reduced functionality mode with SP1 which is great new!!  The new mode will allow me to do my updates and such without a hassel...sysrep...vu a la, updated image.

    There must have been enough complaints and forced M$ to fix their broken policy.

     

    I hope this helps.

     

    M

     

    • Marked as answer by Funmaxx Tuesday, March 3, 2009 4:06 PM
    Tuesday, March 3, 2009 4:06 PM