If you’ve worked in an IT department for a mid-to-large company you may have run across Microsoft Volume Licensing.  I think a tome could be written on the intricacies of the subject, but here I’m only going to touch on one.

How to determine your Windows distribution channel

Since PowerShell is king, we’ll start there:

Open a PowerShell as Administrator and type

cscript.exe /nologo $Env:WinDir\System32\SLmgr.vbs /DLI

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Or use the abbreviated syntax as shown below in an old fashion elevated Command Prompt

C:\Windows\System32\SLmgr /DLI

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As seen above there are RETAIL, KMSCLIENT and MAK channels.  I believe that TechNet and MSDN have their own channels, but I don’t have an example of them.

 

In addition to SLmgr.vbs, there are other methods to determine the channel

 

Why does this matter?

Mostly this is a licensing and product activation conversation; however, if you are a system builder (use MDT or ConfigMgr to build images) you’ll notice one difference.  non-Volume Licensed ISOs will prompt for a license key during OS Deployment even if SkipProductKey=YES is set in CustomSettings.ini.

ISO Matrix

As I encounter them, I’ll keep a matrix of Windows ISO files and their identifying attributes so you can see what you have without deploying the OS.

Product Name File Size MD5 Hash Channel Original file name
Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit with SP1 2563039232 24F3A45D43D7C532AA3126CC094C61BD Retail  
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit with SP1 3319478272 56A26636EC667799F5A7F42F142C772D Retail  
Windows Server 2012 R2 with Update 2 5397889024 78BFF6565F178ED08AB534397FE44845 Retail  

Windows Server 2012 R2

4297373696

83BDF8034BCB019A8F001BAEEAB27326

KMSClient*  

Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit with SP1

3166720000

8D397B69135D207452A78C3C3051339D

KMSClient*

Windows Server 2012

3694114816

FF95A8C5207C880B099B7F34DBA941B6

KMSClient*  

Windows 7 Enterprise 32-bit with SP1

2433157120

0F75C64DE4B10FD581845ABA99E1591D

KMSClient*  

Windows 7 Enterprise 64-bit with SP1

3181234176

8DB2FA2C64160F582BD099E86DBE219F

KMSClient*  

Windows 8 Professional 32-bit

2548852736

12E0DF94644E76B151C0E143BA151D89

KMSClient*  

Windows 8 Professional 64-bit MVL

3488145408

4E31C6F0A7862F8CE8931342AD984A12

KMSClient*  

Windows 8.1 Enterprise 32-bit

2902501376

BF620A67B5DDA1E18E9CE17D25711201

KMSClient*  

Windows 8.1 Enterprise 64-bit

3853993984

8E194185FCCE4EA737F274EE9005DDF0

KMSClient*  

Windows 8.1 Enterprise 64-bit with Update 2

4139163648

115D7C4203417E52C09D16B50043B10D

KMSClient*  

Windows Vista Business 32-bit with SP1

3086147584

B09267740DDD1A08D80B04EC6BBC232A

KMSClient*  

Windows XP Professional 32-bit with SP3

617754624

53140893B6A55699545D5FE595A10843

   

Windows XP Professional 32-bit with SP3

617754624

5BF476E2FC445B8D06B3C2A6091FE3AA

   

Windows XP Professional 64-bit with SP2

614473728

8D3F007EC9C2060CEC8A50EE7D7DC512

   

*Asterisk denotes less than 100% certainty

References