Update 10/25/2010:  This article is superseded by Activate Windows 7 Enterprise with a MAK Key – GUI Method.

A small customer purchased Software Assurance (SA) on their Windows desktop licenses. One SA benefit is the right to install Windows 7 Enterprise. The size of the site does not warrant a KMS server. I was able to obtain a Multiple Activation Key (MAK) from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Site. But the Windows 7 installation never prompted for the key, and when I try to activate Windows 7, I get the message “Windows could not be activated. DNS name does not exist.”

I assumed that the problem was the missing key, so I went looking for a way to enter the key through the Windows GUI.

There is none.

Please Open the Command Prompt to Install Windows

According to Microsoft Knowledge Base article 929826, to install a MAK, you must enter the following at an elevated command prompt:

slmgr -ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx

It does work. Once I had used that command to install the MAK, I was able to activate Windows.

What I don’t get:  why is Microsoft reverting to the DOS days? It’s ironic that the only way to install a Windows product key is to use a command prompt!