Volume licensing customers for Microsoft Office 2010 suites and applications who install volume editions of Office client software will require activation, even with a volume license key (VLK). The change to Office 2010 is closely resembled the change made starting from Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 and continue in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, where all volume edition of operating system has to be activated.

In Office 2007 and earlier versions such as Office XP and Office 2003, volume licensing customers are giving 25-character premium volume license key (VLK) which is entered during installation of Office suite or applications, and end-users do not require to activate the Office software again, and hence bypass product activation for Office which retail customers have to do.

The loophole allows volume edition of Office to become hotbed for no-activation required pirated copy of Office software, with just any leaked volume license product key. Microsoft attempts to stem the counterfeit Office with Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) Validation and Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) Notifications, but as the add-on are not mandatory and subject to false-positives error, and can easily crack, the result in reducing piracy is unclear.

Thing set to change starting from Office 2010, according to Microsoft On the Issues, with introduction of Software Protection Platform (SPP), which first found in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 operating system. As a result, all Office 2010 license acquired through volume licensing channel has to be activated, via KMS host (Key Management Server) for local activation of more than 25 licenses, or MAK product key (Multiple Activation Key).

Microsoft Office 2010 Engineering blog also provides more insight into volume activation of Office 2010. Activation technologies for both Windows and Office 2010 is now almost similar. The same Key Management Service (KMS) host can be configured to activate Office 2010 clients as well as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, with the following items to take note on:

  • KMS hosts configured to activate Office should be installed on Windows Server 2003, volume editions of Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2.
  • If you want your KMS host to activate multiple products (e.g. Office 2010 and Windows 7), you will have to install the Windows KMS host key in addition to the Office KMS host key and activate both of them.
  • Office KMS clients are activated when five or more computers with Office attempt activation with the KMS host. For Windows client operating systems (Windows Vista and Windows 7), activation occurs after 25 or more computers with Windows client request activation.

Anyway, there is still more convenience given to volume editions of Office 2010 when regards to activation. There is no reduction in functionality in volume editions of Office 2010 regardless of activation status. Thus even if Office is not activated, users will still be able to open, save, edit, and print Office files, though users will see notifications reminding them to activate.