The University of Cambridge, its Colleges and Related Institutions hold a Select License Agreement with Microsoft. This allows the purchase of Microsoft software at a reduced cost when used for academic related purposes on institutionally owned machines. Our agreement requires that said machines have access to a KMS (Key Management Server) which in practice means machines MUST have access to the University data network (CUDN) either directly or via VPN.
Additionally wireless connection to Eduroam is acceptable within the UK. Each machine must be connected for at least one hour in every 6 month period to be able to remain licensed and therefore benefit from this arrangement. Software will cease to fully function on machines that exceed the 6 month period.
Where connectivity to the CUDN can be demonstrated to be genuinely not possible (e.g. a laptop being taken on a one year expedition to a remote Rainforest) then UIS Software Distribution are able to issue a MAK key (Multiple Activation Key) which eliminates the need for KMS activation. The University is supplied with a very limited number of MAK keys from Microsoft and therefore these will ONLY be issued where genuine need can be demonstrated.
Further information on MAK and KMS keys:
Activating MAK Clients http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff793398.aspx
Converting KMS Clients to MAK Activation http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff793408.aspx
Advice from the UIS regarding MAK and KMS Keys http://help.uis.cam.ac.uk/help-support/windows-support/windows-techlinks/volume-activation/vaoverview