Activate Windows with KMS Server

If you’ve installed your Windows with an MAK product key and now want to change it to KMS or installed a clean OS (never activated), and need to activate your Windows copy on the corporate KMS server, this guide will definitely help you.

Microsoft offers two ways of Windows and MS Office copies activation for corporate customers under volume license program. They can use MAK and KMS keys for activation.

  • MAK (Multiple Activation Keys)—a MAK license is similar to a Retail (box) license, but allows you to activate several copies of the Windows operating system using a single MAK key. The number of activations is limited and depends on the type of your license agreement (Open, Select or Enterprise Agreement). A Windows copy with the MAK key installed must be activated via the Internet or by phone;
  • KMS (Key Management Service)—this is an activation type for enterprise customers. The KMS activation server allows you to activate corporate versions of Windows operating systems and Microsoft Office products within the enterprise network. The KMS infrastructure is very simple: just install Volume Activation Services role on Windows Server, add your KMS Host Key (from Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center) and activate your corporate KMS server on Microsoft (this operation is performed only once). After that your enterprise KMS clients can send activation requests to the KMS server and activate on it.

The main advantages of KMS activation:

  • KMS clients do not need to access the Internet or the phone to activate the product, only network access to the KMS server is required;
  • The KMS client is activated on the internal KMS server for 180 days and attempts to renew the activation every 7 days;
  • In case the KMS server is damaged or lost, there is nothing to restore from backup on the KMS server. Just install a new server, install KMS role, enter the KMS host key, activate—and everything is ready to go!;
  • In the AD domain instead of KMS activation, you can use its version optimized for Active Directory—ADBA (Active Directory Based Activation);
  • KMS infrastructure is simple and extensible, one KMS server can serve thousands of clients.

Deploying KMS Activation Host on Windows Server 2019

You can install a KMS server on any version of Windows Server. In this example, we will show how to install a KMS activation server on Windows Server 2019 using PowerShell (but you can install Volume Activation Services role through the Server Manager console).

kms server

  1. Run the PowerShell console as administrator and execute the command:
    Install-WindowsFeature -Name VolumeActivation  -IncludeAllSubFeature –Include ManagementTools
  2. If your Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security service is enabled, in order for the KMS client to contact KMS server, you need to open incoming connections on TCP port 1688. This can be done by the following PowerShell command:
    Enable-NetFirewallRule -Name SPPSVC-In-TCP
  3. Go to the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center website > Downloads and Keys > Windows Server > Windows Server 2019 > Key and copy your KMS Host Key (Windows Srv 2019 DataCtr/Std KMS).
    windows server 2012 r2 activator
  4. Now you can install your KMS host key on your server. Run the command:
    slmgr /ipk <your_Windows_SRV_2019_KMS_host_key>
  5. In order to activate your KMS server on Microsoft servers online, run the command:
    slmgr /ato

    (you need to temporarily provide direct Internet for your server).

  6. To check the KMS server activation status, run:
    slmgr /dlv
  7. If necessary, you can optionally install the Volume License Pack for your Office version in order to activate Offices copies in the enterprise network.
  8. Now you can configure KMS clients to activate on your KMS server.

Please note that KMS host key Windows Srv 2019 allows you to activate all previous versions of Windows, starting from Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2. However, if your KMS server is activated with an older host key, you won’t be able to activate new versions of Windows.

For example, if you activated your KMS server with the Windows Srv 2012R2 key, you cannot activate Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016. The maximum supported versions of Windows to activate in this case are Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2.

If you use previous versions of Windows as the KMS server, you need to install special updates before installing the new KMS host key:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 — servicing stack update KB3173424 and any latest cumulative update;
  • Windows Server 2016 — servicing stack update KB4132216 and any latest cumulative update.

Activate Windows with KMS Server

  1. Changing the activation key to the public KMS Client Setup Key
    Before activating your Microsoft product (Windows or Office) on the KMS server, you must change the product activation key to the public KMS Client Setup Key. You can change the product key to KMS from the Windows GUI (use the command slui.exe 4), or you can use the slmgr command line tool. Slmgr.vbs is a VBS script located in the %System\Root\system32 folder and used to manage the Windows licensing on a local or remote computer;
    To activate a KMS client, it must have a special KMS public key installed. This product key is called the GVLK key (Generic Volume License Key). For each Windows editions, this key is unique. To replace an existing product key, run the command prompt as an administrator on the computer you are want to activate and type:

    slmgr.vbs /ipk XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX

    (XXXXX is GVLK key for your Windows edition from the table below)
    In our case, we want to activate Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019 on a KMS server. The KMS Client key installation command will look like this:

    slmgr.vbs /ipk M7XTQ-FN8P6-TTKYV-9D4CC-J462D

    kms server windows 10

  2. Checking VLMCS Record in DNS and setting KMS server address
    After you specify the GVLK key, the KMS client tries to connect to the previously configured KMS server or find a special SRV (_VLMCS) record in the DNS. This DNS record is created when you install a new KMS server in the domain and pointing to your KMS server. After KMS server discovery using the DNS server, the client performs the OS activation.
    You can skip this step if your DNS has a valid SRV record that allows clients to find the KMS server.
    Tip. You can check this DNS entry using the nslookup command:

    nslookup -q=SRV _VLMCS._TCP.theitbros.com

    slmgr /skmsIf the client does not find the KMS server automatically, you can specify the address of the KMS server manually using the slmgr with the option /skms. You can also specify the TCP port on which the activation service listens (by default 1688):

    slmgr.vbs /skms <KMS_server_name_or_IP>:1688

    You can test network connectivity between your computer and the KMS server using the PowerShell command:

    Test-NetConnection -ComputerName KMS_server_name_or_IP -Port 1688

    windows kms activation

  3. To activate Windows with the KMS server, run the command:
    Slmgr.vbs /ato

    And wait until message Product activated successfully appeared.
    activate windows kms

  4. Check the Status of Windows Activation
    Optionally, you can display information about the Windows activation status:

    slmgr.vbs /dli

    windows 10 kms server

As you can see, the utility returned the following useful info:

  • Name — the OS version;
  • Description — distribution channel VOLUME_KMS\CLIENT channel;
  • License status — licensed;
  • Volume activation expirations — 180 days;
  • KMS server IP address and DNS name.

Most Common KMS Activation Errors

Most often users facing the following errors when trying to activate Windows with KMS server:

  • 0xC004F074 — key management server is unavailable. It means that the KMS service on the server is not running or access to it from the client is blocked (check TCP port 1688 availability on a server);
  • 0xC004F038 — you did not have the necessary number of activation request on the KMS server (for desktop Windows edition the minimum number of KMS clients – 25, for Windows Server – 5)
  • 0xC004F015 — you can see this error when you try to activate Windows 10/Server 2016/2019 on old KMS server activated with the old KMS host key. In this case you need to get a new KMS host key from VLSC and reactivate your KMS server.
  • Unable to reach Windows activation servers.

Windows Public GVLK Keys

Below are the collection of the public KMS Client license keys (GVLK) from Microsoft for all supported Windows versions. All these keys are taken from the official Microsoft site, where they are publicly available. They are pretty hard to find using the Microsoft website

Update (2019-05-04): Added GVLK keys for the Windows Server 2019 and Windows 10 LTSC editions).

Operating system version KMS Client License Key
Windows Server 2019
Windows Server 2019 Datacenter WMDGN-G9PQG-XVVXX-R3X43-63DFG
Windows Server 2019 Standard N69G4-B89J2-4G8F4-WWYCC-J464C
Windows Server 2019 Essentials WVDHN-86M7X-466P6-VHXV7-YY726
Windows 10 LTSC 2019
Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019 M7XTQ-FN8P6-TTKYV-9D4CC-J462D
Windows 10 Enterprise N LTSC 2019 92NFX-8DJQP-P6BBQ-THF9C-7CG2H
Windows Server 2016
Windows Server 2016 Datacenter CB7KF-BWN84-R7R2Y-793K2-8XDDG
Windows Server 2016 Standard WC2BQ-8NRM3-FDDYY-2BFGV-KHKQY
Windows Server 2016 Essentials JCKRF-N37P4-C2D82-9YXRT-4M63B
Windows 10
Windows 10 Professional W269N-WFGWX-YVC9B-4J6C9-T83GX
Windows 10 Professional N MH37W-N47XK-V7XM9-C7227-GCQG9
Windows 10 Enterprise NPPR9-FWDCX-D2C8J-H872K-2YT43
Windows 10 Enterprise N DPH2V-TTNVB-4X9Q3-TJR4H-KHJW4
Windows 10 Education NW6C2-QMPVW-D7KKK-3GKT6-VCFB2
Windows 10 Education N 2WH4N-8QGBV-H22JP-CT43Q-MDWWJ
Windows 10 Enterprise 2015 LTSB WNMTR-4C88C-JK8YV-HQ7T2-76DF9
Windows 10 Enterprise 2015 LTSB N 2F77B-TNFGY-69QQF-B8YKP-D69TJ
Windows 10 Enterprise 2016 LTSB DCPHK-NFMTC-H88MJ-PFHPY-QJ4BJ
Windows 10 Enterprise 2016 LTSB N QFFDN-GRT3P-VKWWX-X7T3R-8B639
Windows Server 2012 R2
Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard D2N9P-3P6X9-2R39C-7RTCD-MDVJX
Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter W3GGN-FT8W3-Y4M27-J84CP-Q3VJ9
Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials KNC87-3J2TX-XB4WP-VCPJV-M4FWM
Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1 Professional GCRJD-8NW9H-F2CDX-CCM8D-9D6T9
Windows 8.1 Professional N HMCNV-VVBFX-7HMBH-CTY9B-B4FXY
Windows 8.1 Enterprise MHF9N-XY6XB-WVXMC-BTDCT-MKKG7
Windows 8.1 Enterprise N TT4HM-HN7YT-62K67-RGRQJ-JFFXW
Windows Server 2012
Windows Server 2012 Core BN3D2-R7TKB-3YPBD-8DRP2-27GG4
Windows Server 2012 Core N 8N2M2-HWPGY-7PGT9-HGDD8-GVGGY
Windows Server 2012 Core Single Language 2WN2H-YGCQR-KFX6K-CD6TF-84YXQ
Windows Server 2012 Core Country Specific 4K36P-JN4VD-GDC6V-KDT89-DYFKP
Windows Server 2012 Server Standard XC9B7-NBPP2-83J2H-RHMBY-92BT4
Windows Server 2012 Standard Core XC9B7-NBPP2-83J2H-RHMBY-92BT4
Windows Server 2012 MultiPoint Standard HM7DN-YVMH3-46JC3-XYTG7-CYQJJ
Windows Server 2012 MultiPoint Premium XNH6W-2V9GX-RGJ4K-Y8X6F-QGJ2G
Windows Server 2012 Datacenter 48HP8-DN98B-MYWDG-T2DCC-8W83P
Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Core 48HP8-DN98B-MYWDG-T2DCC-8W83P
Windows 8
Windows 8 Professional NG4HW-VH26C-733KW-K6F98-J8CK4
Windows 8 Professional N XCVCF-2NXM9-723PB-MHCB7-2RYQQ
Windows 8 Enterprise 32JNW-9KQ84-P47T8-D8GGY-CWCK7
Windows 8 Enterprise N JMNMF-RHW7P-DMY6X-RF3DR-X2BQT
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2 HPC Edition FKJQ8-TMCVP-FRMR7-4WR42-3JCD7
Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter 74YFP-3QFB3-KQT8W-PMXWJ-7M648
Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise 489J6-VHDMP-X63PK-3K798-CPX3Y
Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-Based Systems GT63C-RJFQ3-4GMB6-BRFB9-CB83V
Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard YC6KT-GKW9T-YTKYR-T4X34-R7VHC
Windows Web Server 2008 R2 6TPJF-RBVHG-WBW2R-86QPH-6RTM4
Windows Server 2008
Windows Server 2008 Datacenter 7M67G-PC374-GR742-YH8V4-TCBY3
Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V 22XQ2-VRXRG-P8D42-K34TD-G3QQC
Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems 4DWFP-JF3DJ-B7DTH-78FJB-PDRHK
Windows Server 2008 Enterprise YQGMW-MPWTJ-34KDK-48M3W-X4Q6V
Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V 39BXF-X8Q23-P2WWT-38T2F-G3FPG
Windows Server 2008 Standard TM24T-X9RMF-VWXK6-X8JC9-BFGM2
Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V W7VD6-7JFBR-RX26B-YKQ3Y-6FFFJ
Windows Web Server 2008 WYR28-R7TFJ-3X2YQ-YCY4H-M249D
Windows 7
Windows 7 Professional FJ82H-XT6CR-J8D7P-XQJJ2-GPDD4
Windows 7 Professional N MRPKT-YTG23-K7D7T-X2JMM-QY7MG
Windows 7 Enterprise 33PXH-7Y6KF-2VJC9-XBBR8-HVTHH
Windows 7 Enterprise N YDRBP-3D83W-TY26F-D46B2-XCKRJ
Windows 7 Enterprise E C29WB-22CC8-VJ326-GHFJW-H9DH4
Windows Vista
Windows Vista Business YFKBB-PQJJV-G996G-VWGXY-2V3X8
Windows Vista Business N HMBQG-8H2RH-C77VX-27R82-VMQBT
Windows Vista Enterprise VKK3X-68KWM-X2YGT-QR4M6-4BWMV
Windows Vista Enterprise N VTC42-BM838-43QHV-84HX6-XJXKV

After installing the GVLK key, the Windows tries to either directly connect to the specified KMS server, or find a DNS SRV record that points to the KMS server, and then performs the activation.

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13 comments

  1. Actually, if the installation media is not Retail but Volume, it is not required to execute slmgr.vbs /ipk KEY part. If the newly installed server can find KMS host via DDNS, executing slmgr.vbs /ato activates the server. If a server cannot find KMS host, you can specify it using slmgr.vbs /skms KMS-Server:Port, default Port=1688.
    So, in my case with standalone server this was enough:
    slmgr.vbs /skms KMS-Server:Port
    slmgr.vbs /ato

  2. So when it comes to activating desktops with Windows 7 and 8, do you use the KMS keys on the MS license portal for the product you are activating, or the generic KMS MS provide for KMS activation?

    I Find it very odd that if the KMS server communicates with the MS license server, why the need for KMS key’s for the product, and then a set of generic MS supply’s to perform the same task?

    1. If you are activating Windows 7 or Windows 8 desktops the proper way to do this is to activate via your own KMS Server. If setup properly you shouldn’t have to manually activate your desktops. However, I have seen servers need to be manually activated via KMS more often than not.

      But yes I agree with your last statement, seems kind of strange the way they activate with KMS. Totally different than the MAK or VLK keys.

  3. Excellent! I just had an issue when virtiualising a server that was licenced via our KMS but come out ‘the otherside’ as not genuine (!). Your web page just got me out of the hole. Thanks

  4. i wanna download w8 for free, would this method help me obtain it for free without worrying my pc will crash or any files be corrupted?

  5. I am using Windows 7 Professional and mini-KMS Activator. I rearmed Windows 8 days ago. Yesterday I ran “Key Manager Windows VL” to generate the windows key “FJ82H-XT6CR-J8D7P-XQJJ2-GPDD4”. I then ran “Activate Windows CL” but all the KMS servers were reported as “down”. I tried this again just now with the same result – any suggestions?

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