KMS Activating Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8

In our environment, we have a Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual guest serving as our KMS host. With the recent RTM releases of Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, we wanted to be able to activate our hosts and guests using KMS. If you try to activate one of these new Windows editions using a Windows Server 2008 R2 KMS host, then you will likely encounter the following error:

Error: 0xC004F050 The Software Licensing Service reported that the product key is invalid.

Luckily, Microsoft have released an update for the Windows Server 2008 R2 KMS host services to support the application of new KMS keys and to accept the KMS activation requests from these operating systems. You can download the update from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2691586/EN-US and register to receive the hotfix.

Something you should note which I ran into which is not explicitly defined in the article is that this update only applies to Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1. Trying to apply this update to the RTM release of Windows Server 2008 R2 produces an Windows Update error that this update is not applicable to this system.

After applying the SP1 update to the KMS host, I was able to install the update, and after a reboot, we were nearly ready to start activating. The final step is to update the KMS key, which is something not terribly well explained on the web either. You will have a KMS host key if you are a Microsoft Volume License customer, and you will have a Windows 8 or a Windows Server 2012 KMS key if you subscribe to Software Assurance for the products.

If you subscribe to Software Assurance for Windows 7 client operating systems, but not for Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2, then you will receive a Windows 8 KMS key via your Volume License Servicing Center, but not a Windows Server 2012 KMS key. If you subscribe to Software Assurance for Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2 then you will receive a Windows Server 2012 KMS key via your Volume License Servicing Center. One thing you need to be aware of regarding KMS is how the down-level clients are licensed.

On a KMS host, you can only apply one license key. If you install a Windows 8 KMS key, then you will be able to activate Windows Vista, 7 and 8 clients, but will not be able to activate any edition of any server operating system. In you install a Windows Server 2012 KMS key, then you will be able to activate any combination of Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, 7 and 8.

In my scenario, our VLSC site showed a KMS key for Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, so I used the Windows Server 2012 key. On the KMS host, first uninstall the old KMS key using the following command:

cscript slmgr.vbs -upk

You will receive a message that the key was successfully uninstalled, after which you can enter the new key.

cscript slmgr.vbs -ipk XYZXY-XYZXY-XYZXY-XYZXY-XYZXY

You should now receive a notification that the key was successfully installed onto the server. Lastly, you need to activate the key which requires going out to the Microsoft activation service, so if you use a proxy server for internet access, be sure that you allow this user and host combination to do that.

cscript slmgr.vbs -ato

Once all the above was complete, I entered the KMS client key for Windows 8 onto my Windows 8 Enterprise desktop and it successfully activated, as did a Windows Server 2012 Datacenter virtual machine which I deployed a couple of days ago. If you need the KMS client keys to get you back to a KMS state after you may have MAK activated your machines to get you up and running, you can get them from the TechNet page at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj612867.aspx.

 

richardjgreen

Richard works as a Cloud Consultant for Fordway Solution where his primary focus is to help customers understand, adopt and develop with Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and System Center. Richard Green is an IT Pro with over 15 years' of experience in all things Microsoft including System Center and Office 365. He has previously worked as a System Center consultant and as an internal solutions architect across many verticals. Outside of work, he loves motorbikes and is part of the orange army, marshaling for NGRRC, British Superbikes and MotoGP. He is also an Assistant Cub Scout Leader.