Citrix XenDesktop 5 workaround for Microsoft KMS activation with Machine Creation Services (MCS)

I’ve had a few customer contacting me about the MAK issue with XenDesktop 5 and with the use of MCS instead of Provisioning Services, for PoC(Proof of Concept) deployments.

There is a official statement from Citrix regarding the XenDesktop 5 Support for Microsoft KMS activation with Machine Creation Services (MCS).

MCS does not support or work with KMS based Microsoft Windows 7 activation by default, however the following workaround has been provided and will be supported by Citrix Support should an issue arise.

Creating a Master Image

  1. Create a master image virtual machine and install Windows, Virtual Desktop Agent, and all software required.
  2. Make a snapshot this master image (call the image “masterImage”).
  3. Rearm the virtual machine (use slmgr /rearm) and shut down the virtual machine.
  4. Make a snapshot the virtual machine again (call this “masterImage-rearm”)
  5. Use the masterimage-rearm snapshot at the master image for creating a catalog.
  6. When the MCS machines are created and boot they should request activation from the KMS server using unique identities.  The machines will activate every time they are booted, this means that after this, virtual machine has been booted 25 times (or 25 machines have been booted once then the KMS server will activate because it will have reached its minimum machine activation count).

Updating a Master Image

  1. Start the master image snapshot (not the master image-rearm).
  2. Update whatever is required.
  3. Take a snapshot (masterimage2).
  4. Rearm the snapshot (slmgr /rearm).
  5. Take a snapshot (masterimage2-rearm).
  6. Update the catalogue to use the masterimage2-rearm snapshot.

Note: (As described) you must go back to the un-rearmed master image each time you do updates as there is a limit to three rearms per machine. If you only update the originally rearmed virtual machine then the process will only work 3 times.  Also note that you must not restart the master images that have been rearmed, as this completes the rearm process, this completion of rearm must be done on the VMs that MCS has created for this process to work.

Learn more here