Windows Server 2012 KMS Service Activation

Now we have the Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 RTM bit form our Volume License we need to get some housekeeping done. The first thing we do is setup or update our KMS Service.

In our case it is running on Windows Server 2008 R2 so we need to do a couple of things.

Install the following update: An update is available for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 KMS hosts to support Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 as described in KB2691586. This is also the place where you can request this hotfix.  If you don’t install this hotfix registering a Windows Server 2012  KMS will throw an Error: 0xC004F050 The Software Licensing Service reported that the product key is invalid

So request the hotfix and install it from an elevated command prompt. Just follow the instructions and you’ll be fine Smile


Once you’ve clicked OK the installation will start


After that’s finished you will be asked to restart the server. Do so. Just restarting the KMS service ("net stop sppsvc" and "net start sppsvc") doesn’t suffice.


Now we have that out the way we can start putting our brand new KMS key into action.

Let’s take a look at what is already running:

slmgr.vbs /dlv => clearly the Windows 2008 R KMS key

Uninstall the current KMS key using slmgr.vbs /upk, please use an elevated command prompt Winking smile



Now you can install the new KMS key. The key listed here is obviously a demo one Winking smile If you run in to any issues here, restarting the KMS Service can help. Try that first.




Now activate your brandnew KMS key running slmgr.vbs /ato



Show what’s up and running now by running slmgr.vbs /dlv again and as you can see we’re in business to activate all our Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 hosts. Life is good Smile


84 thoughts on “Windows Server 2012 KMS Service Activation

  1. Pingback: The Importance Of KMS Product Keys & Activation To Deployment, VDI, & Cloud Computing

  2. Pingback: @GJohansson - Windows Server 2012 KMS activation

  3. Great, thanks. Can you point me to the KMS client keys for Server 2012 and Windows 8? I can’t seem to find them anywhere.

    Mark Ringo

  4. Good write-up, and almost exactly what I did with our KMS host server as well. Only difference, I did not run the /UPK command to remove a product key…just used the /IPK to install our new Server 2012 KMS key, then ran the /ATO activation command.

    Everything seems to be activating just fine. Just curious if there’s a specific reason you uninstalled your old Product key first?

    • You’re good to go with the Windows 2012 KMS key. It will activate down level clients down to Windows Server 2008 & Vista. Also only two keys now: server VL key = > activates all and client VL key = activates all client versions.

  5. We are using KMS key for activating up to Windows Server 2008 R2 DataCenter edition. Not sure what happens if KMS key for Windows 8 Enterprise is installed? Will it activate our original servers 08R2s?

  6. Thank you for this post, but could you please help me out a bit…so our KMS doesn’t go down because of my lack of understanding.

    I currently have a KMS running on a 2008 R2 slmgr.vbs /dlv reveals it’s a VOLUME_KMS_R2_C. It activates Win 7, Server 2008 and R2 and Office 2010.

    We only have Software Assurance for Windows 8, we won’t have any licenses for Server 2012. We also won’t be migrating to Office 2013.

    What’s the procedure in this case. If I uninstall the VOLUME_KMS_R2_C and just enter the Win 8 KMS key that probably won’t do?

    Any suggestions are appreciated.

    • If you also need to activate servers, even if only down lever ones from W2K12, you can’t replace the KMS key with VL client one as that would only alow for client OS activation.
      You could set up a seperate KMS for Servers without auto discovery and take it from there. Or use MAK/VAMT for the servers … you have some options here.
      Office 2010 KMS can always be reinstalled in a breeze (my experience) if you need to or mess things up. No much worries there.
      Also see and
      Thanks for reading and good luck!

      • Thank you for your reply.

        Such a shame I can’t just somehow add a Win8 VL key to my existing KMS. Can I set up a new KMS for Win8 only? I don’t want to deal with MAK activations.

        If so how do I go about doing this, so there’s no autodiscovery and having two KMS servers in one domain? Which switch is then used to activate a Win8 client to that KMS (I’ll be deploying them through MDT and can probably add a Run Command Line)? Or can this be done through GPO, so it’s pointed to the correct KMS?

        BTW the two links you posted are both the same.

        Thanks in advance for your help.

        • Anything you can script can be done remote or via GPO so that should work. I fixed the link. Yup once you start seperating roles to seperate KMS servers you have some more work to do yourself as far as I know, but it’s not to bad 🙂

  7. I tried this on an unactivated copy of Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Release Candidate, which does not have an activation key available (yet). I used ‘slmgr /IPK xxx…” with a current Windows 8 RTM key using a Partnership Benefits license, and instead of activating KMS, it activated the server. Don’t ask me what happened…the server is now activated, but KMS doesn’t seem to be running.

  8. Thank you very much for the write up. We have a R2_C channel Key installed. We license Win 2008 Servers (any Versions), Office and Windows 7. When i install our new Win8 KMS Key can we still activate Office2010, WinSrv 2008 and Win7?

    thank you

  9. Thanks for tutorial! BTW, I got “run slui.exe 0x2a 0x8004FE33” error. Just removed proxy settings from IE and gave direct access to MS sites for KMS server.

  10. Great post, thank you. I have 2 questions though…

    1. On the VLSC site my organization has more than one KMS product key available. Does it matter which one I use? Should I use the one with the same license ID as the old key that I’m replacing?

    2. After uninstalling the current key and installing the new key, will the Current Count be reset to zero? If so, do I have to install 25+ new clients or 5+ new servers to continue activating or will the clients/servers activated with the old key help this somehow?

    • Thx!

      1) No, just use the class that you need for your environment.
      2) Nope. That counter should be fine even when you uninstall. You can change the key even without uninstalling it it but I did it here as I’ve seen it once where this didn’t go well. In most cases just changing the key and reactivating will do the job.

      Good luck

      • When you say “class” do you mean using the Windows 8 key for activating clients and the Windows Server 2012 key for activating clients and servers?

        Your cmd prompt screenshot shows VOLUME_2012_KMS_C channel. Did you have to specify “C” and if so how?

        • That’s just the name, no need to type in anything but the key. You’re good to go with the Windows 2012 KMS key. It will activate down level clients down to Windows Server 2008 and Vista. Also only two keys now (classes is old school speak): server VL key = activates all server & client versions (down to W2K8/Vista) + a client VL key = activates all client versions.

      • Do downlevel clients count towards the total count? For example, if I update my KMS host to support 2012/8, will I have to have to activate 25 Windows 8 / 5 2012 servers to keep it serving downlevel clients… or will my existing infrastructure of 7 / 2008 R2 count towards this and continue to run without adding the required 25 / 5 count. I can’t find anything from Microsoft explaining this, but is obviously a concern.

        • Nothing to worry about. You’ll have that count form your downlevel W2K8(R2), Windows 7 & Vista clients … that sorts itself out. We had no issues whatsoever even with only a few W2K12 serser to start off with that first day.

        • Thanks. So just to confirm, I could run the update, and only have 1 Server 2012 client and 1 Windows 8 client for several months/years (to prove the point I’m making!) and it wouldn’t reduce the count or affect down level clients?

          • Read the KB => The KMS key activates:
            •Windows Server 2008 R2
            •Windows Server 2008
            •Windows 8
            •Windows Server 2012
            •Windows 7
            •Windows Vista

            There is no requirement to have any W2K12/Windows 8. So it doesn’t matter, you can do that update, never even install a new KMS activation key and even if you do never activate any Windows Server 2012 / Windows 8. Even if that counter is reset doens’t matter either. The moment you reach the required number it just starts counting again.There is nothing dangerous or magic about that counter bar from people’s tendency to sit around watching it count. KMS if done well is set en forget until a new OS arrives and that you just update the KMS host. Nothing to worry about and if you have Volume Licensing so Microsoft support will help you when in doubt. KMS is loose that you could blow it up and take weeks to set up a new one, meanwhile
            the company will keep running. All of this very well documented and here’s the entry point for all Volume activation info

  11. Hello.
    I have upgraded KSM server to support Windows Server 2012 / Windows 8. Now I have VOLUME_KMS_2012_C_channel options. But has one problem – the KMS server can’t activate Windows 7 / Windows 8 Enterprise version (Windows 7 Pro activated fine). What I should to do to activation Enterprise versions OS? It is a right way one KMS server for activation Win7 and Win8. What is activation scope VOLUME_KMS_2012_C_channel?

    • Should work just fine. Server VL VOLUME_KMS_2012_C_channel activates:

      Windows Vista Business
      Windows Vista Enterprise
      Windows 7 Professional
      Windows 7 Enterprise
      Windows 8 Professional
      Windows 8 Enterprise
      Windows 2008 (all editions)
      Windows 2008 R2 (all editions)
      Windows Server 2012 (all editions)

      • I was wrong. Now KMS server activation all versions fine. Windows Enterprise was installed from image. Answer file contained wrong key…

  12. Can we have more than one KMS server? One using Windows 2008R2 to serve Office 2010 and one with Windows server 2012 servicing Servers 2012 and below? Does 2 SRV record in DNS for two differents purpose would be an issue? I’m asking this because you can’t officially have Server 2012 to serve Office 2010. Also, if you have a KMS of Office 2013, would it work also for office 2010 and below? Thanks a lot.

  13. Has anyone converted a server from MAK to KMS to prepare it to be a KMS host? We have a DC currently activated with MAK and we want to make it a KMS server. Do I just install the KMS host key and it automatically replaces the MAK key?

      • Tell me if I’m wrong but I think the MAK key will not be replaced if you install the KMS service on the server however the server will be able to provide automatic registration to the other servers. A MAK key is a serial number, when set it doesn’t go away unless you re-install or sysprep the machine.

        • You install the KMS key or the KMS service will do you no good. If you want to remove the KMS service you remove the KMS key as well and change it to a client activation key, which is default. with VL ISOs. MAK key are a deliberate choice. the KMS activation key is activated over the internet like a MAK key and then is allowed via the KMS servcie to hand out activations to it’s own clients. AFAIK KMS/MAK and Client Activation keys are switched out via an identical mechanism.

  14. Terminology is the devil in this licensing nightmare. We do this once every couple of years and Microsoft makes it the most arcane and unnecessarily complicated thing wrap your brain around because of the poor choice of terminology/acronyms! Maybe you can post in-a-nutshell definitions?
    What are each of the following called (using Microsoft’s terminology)?
    1. Machine that hands out activation
    2. Volume License Key installed onto machine in #1 that lets clients activate
    3. Volume License Key installed onto machine in #1 that lets servers activate
    4. Volume License Key installed onto machine in #1 that lets Office products activate
    5. Volume License Key that turns ordinary machine into a activation server #1.
    6. Name of the website where customers can download license keys used in #2-5.

    • Yes, that should work. The KMS key can be activated 5 times. There is no obligation to do this within the same AD forest or domain. If you have the licenses you can legally build multiple domains, for security reasons for example. A practical limit would be 5 with one key, but talk to your account manager if you need more.

  15. Assigning 2 Licenses to Single Server

    We have 4 Process Server and Plan to install Windows 2012 Server, we have been informed that this requires 2 Licenses. How do you assign 2 licenses using slmgr?

    • Activating Windows Server installations via KMS has nothing to do with licensing schemes and cost. You just activate your server via KMS/MAK … depending on what licensing structure you have bought and that’s it. You have to make sure that you buy and pay for the proper amount of licenses to avoid penalties & fines when audited.

  16. great site… thank you! couple questions I don’t think have been asked:
    – what if your current KMS host does not have direct Internet access? I recall setting up the KMS for Windows and Office was much much more difficult, requiring a call to MS and the activation ID’s. I believe the KMS host itself needs MAK activation first. Since I need to upgrade the KMS to support Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, what would be the best approach to do this?

    – I recall when I ran a slmgr /dlv (detailed view I think), there were lots of keys that I never setup or used. Can I remove them using the technique you showed above to uninstall them? They aren’t hurting anything and not in use but they just clutter up the query results.

    • 1) It’s exactly the same process except you launch slui.exe 4 from the command prompt and call MSFT. That’s it.

      2) I have never seen a list of uninstalled keys so I’ve never had to remove a bunch. You can try but I give no guarnatees. Even if you clean them all out it’s just a question of adding the good key again and activating it.

  17. Hello,

    I just noticed across different domains/networks where I’ve setup KMS hosts, on some its licensed for the VOLUME_KMS_R2_C channel license and others it shows VOLUME_KMS_R2_B channel license. Is this just the version of clients it will activate. On the KMS hosts where the C channel license is in effect, I see where the B channel license exists, an maybe “use” to be working (based on # of attempts, etc) but it is no longer licensed. Any insight here?

    I still haven’t pulled the trigger yet to upgrade my KMS hosts to support Windows 2012 or Office 2013 but will likely (soon) attempt to upgrade KMS to support Windows 2012. I downloaded the Office 2013 KMS installer but it’s not an installer (like it was for Office 2010), its just a bunch of files (vbs and xml) and folders with no instructions on what to do. Any guidance on how to apply it?

    Thanks – Rob

  18. Pingback: Windows Server 2012 R2 & Windows 8.1 KMS Service Activation | Working Hard In IT

  19. Hi,

    Does the windows 2012 R2 VLK replace windows 2008 vlk? I noticed that after activating the windows 2012R2 key, my windows 2008 vlk became unlicensed. Is this expected behaviour?


  20. Hi.

    I have a Windows Server 2008 R2 server as KMS host, every time that I tried to activate my windows 7 WS I´m receiving the following errror.

    0x8004FE2F Non core edition Running run SLUI.exe and read the error info details…. No info details. Any clue on this problem

  21. I had to install KB2885698 on my Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 server before I could add the Windows Server 2012 R2 volume license key. Until then, it kept failing. I believe this KB replaces the KB mentioned in this article.

    I also wanted to comment on the KMS licensing count. (chubbfx and Ficcus seemed confused) You need 25 workstations and 5 servers minimum to use KMS. It does not matter what the OS is, it is simply the class: workstation or server.

    This is a great article. Thanks for posting it.

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