Troubleshooting Windows Activation

[UPDATE: Removed Vista info: instead of troubleshooting Vista, upgrade it.]

Here are some troubleshooting steps — for my future reference as much as anyone else’s — for for gathering information for diagnosing and resolving Windows KMS client activation issues.

Quick Fix: Try this first!

Most Windows activation issues I’ve encountered are resolved by entering the appropriate product key (not a secret; see footnote):

Windows 7 Enterprise Volume: 33PXH-7Y6KF-2VJC9-XBBR8-HVTHH
Windows 8 Enterprise Volume: 32JNW-9KQ84-P47T8-D8GGY-CWCK7
Windows 8.1 Enterprise Volume: MHF9N-XY6XB-WVXMC-BTDCT-MKKG7

Enter the code above and attempt to reactivate. If it works, you should be all set. If it doesn’t, the following steps will help identify the issue.

Gathering Information.

Gathering data is essential to fixing problems. If you ask me (or other IT staff) for help with Windows activation, the first thing I will ask from you is the output of the commands below.

I recommend opening a text editor and copying all the commands and output into a file, which you can send to us if you need additional help resolving the activation issue.

NOTE: All these steps require running commands from a console window (cmd.exe), which you may need to run As Administrator. These commands work in Windows 7, 8 and 8.1.

1. Run ipconfig /all to capture current IP configuration information.

This could tell us whether the system is in a netreg-ed subnet and needs to register at http://netreg.uvm.edu, or if there are other basic network configuration problems. We really just need the Ethernet adapter, assuming that’s what is being used to connect the system to the network. We don’t need all the additional tunneling adapters, etc. If someone is using a wireless adapter, possibly with the VPN client, then info about those adapters also should be captured.

2. Run a DNS query to make sure the system. (Note the space between srv and _vlmcs):

C:\> nslookup -q=srv  _vlmcs._tcp

This command should return our campus KMS info [1] :

Server:  ns1.uvm.edu
Address:  132.198.201.10

_vlmcs._tcp.uvm.edu     SRV service location:
priority       = 0
weight         = 0
port           = 1688
svr hostname   = kms1.campus.ad.uvm.edu
uvm.edu nameserver = ns2.uvm.edu
uvm.edu nameserver = ns1.uvm.edu
kms1.campus.ad.uvm.edu  internet address = 132.198.xxx.xxx
kms1.campus.ad.uvm.edu  AAAA IPv6 address = xxxx:xxxx:xxxx::xxxx:xxxx
ns1.uvm.edu     internet address = 132.198.201.10
ns2.uvm.edu     internet address = 132.198.202.10

3. Capture licensing status with slmgr.vbs

This command changes the default script host to cscript, so that output will go to the command prompt instead of a pop-up dialog box.

C:\> cscript /h:cscript

Then capture the output of

C:\> slmgr.vbs -dlv

On a system where activation is working, the output should resemble the following:

Microsoft (R) Windows Script Host Version 5.8
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Name: Windows(R) 7, Enterprise edition
Description: Windows Operating System – Windows(R) 7, VOLUME_KMSCLIENT channel
Partial Product Key: HVTHH
License Status: Licensed
Volume activation expiration: 258900 minute(s) (179 day(s))

Key Management Service client information
Client Machine ID (CMID): [long string]
KMS machine name from DNS: kms1.campus.ad.uvm.edu:1688
KMS machine extended PID: [long string]
Activation interval: 120 minutes
Renewal interval: 10080 minutes
KMS host caching is enabled

Capturing these pieces of information is important in helping us identify whether there’s a problem with a machine or two, a systemic problem that affects many people, or even an infrastructure failure.

Resolving Problems

1. IP configuration.

This volume licensing process depends on a regular functioning connection to the campus network. Without this connectivity, a system’s activation will expire, leading to reduced functionality mode prior to Service Pack 1, and annoying out-of-compliance non-genuine warnings if the system has SP1.

So regular network troubleshooting steps may come into play. If a system is going to be off site for extended periods of time, we have another mechanism that we can use to provide a perpetual (non-expiring) license.

2. DNS query doesn’t return valid KMS information

If the information is missing or incorrect, the client system won’t know where to go to obtain an activation. Since Windows volume license 2.0 requires periodic renewal of the activation, this issue should be addressed, or the activation will fail in the future.

A quick fix, though, is to tell Windows what server to use, thusly:

C:\> slmgr.vbs -skms kms1.campus.ad.uvm.edu

assuming the client system can resolve that name to the right IP. And then force an activation attempt:

C:\> slmgr.vbs -ato

But if client does correctly receive the DNS response and still can’t activate, other things to could be going on…

3. Problems with license configuration

I have seen situations where the “slmgr.vbs -dlv” shows an unlicensed Retail version of Windows (i.e., the description of the version of Windows includes the text “RETAIL channel”) rather than a volume license as shown above.

By running “slmgr.vbs -dlv all”, you can review the status of many (all?) the different possible license options for this installation of Windows. Examine the VOLUME_KMSCLIENT channel entry, which on a working system should resemble the output in step 3 of the Gathering Information above. Instead, you may see, for example that the “VOLUME_KMSCLIENT channel” entry looks something like this:

Name: Windows(R) 7, Enterprise edition
Description: Windows Operating System – Windows(R) 7, VOLUME_KMSCLIENT channel
Activation ID: [long string]
Application ID: [long string]
Extended PID:
Installation ID:
This license is not in use.
License Status: Unlicensed

To fix this, you need to install the generic product key for KMS volume activation ( again, not a secret. It’s available from MS [2] ). You can do this using the “enter a new product key” option from the RFM window, from the System properties/control panel, or from an elevated command prompt, like so:

[Win7] c:\> slmgr -ipk 33PXH-7Y6KF-2VJC9-XBBR8-HVTHH
[Win8] c:\> slmgr -ipk 32JNW-9KQ84-P47T8-D8GGY-CWCK7
[Win8.1] c:\> slmgr -ipk MHF9N-XY6XB-WVXMC-BTDCT-MKKG7

Then force activation

slmgr -ato

If this still results in an error, please save the output of all these commands in a file and attach it to a footprint ticket.

–Geoff

[1] KMS service info: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb490214.aspx

[2] Volume license keys are listed at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj612867. They activate against a license server (kms) that we enable with a private license key. No sensitive keys have been divulged in the creating of this document.

7 thoughts on “Troubleshooting Windows Activation

  1. melai

    Hi…. i tried to follow the command listed but still an error occured.. its says …

    ERROR 0x0004f039 the computer could not activated. the key management service could not be reach

    what seems to be the problem?? please help me with this because im going crazy in activating my vista enterprise huhuhu plssss…. hope i could hear from you soon.. SOS

  2. Geoff Post author

    Melai, it sounds like you’re having trouble with communication between the KMS and your client. Are you able to to ping one from the other? You could try using the portqry command to scan TCP 1688 from the client to make sure you are able to connect to the service. Without more details of your situation, I don’t have much more advise. You could also look to MS KB942969 “How to troubleshoot Volume Activation 2.0 error codes in Windows Vista”. Good luck.

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