How to add your KMS keys for Windows 8 and Server 2012

Now that Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 are out, any company that uses KMS keys needs to add the new ones from Microsoft’s Volume Licensing Service Center

First, there’s a hotfix for your existing KMS server available here:

Once you request the hotfix, get the email and download it, and install. The install will require a reboot, so if you’ve got this on a critical server you’re going to have to schedule a reboot.
A few change request forms and approval signatures later, you’ll be finally ready to add your shiny new keys in.
Now, here’s the installation instructions from the link above:

Installation instructions
If you have a KMS host that is running Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 or Windows 7 SP1, follow these steps to perform an upgrade: Install this update (KB2691586). Restart the computer when you are prompted.

To install a new KMS host key for Windows 8 activation or for Windows Server 2012 activation, run the following command: cscript %windir%\system32\slmgr.vbs /ipk
Note In this command, replace  with the new KMS host key for Windows 8 activation or for Windows Server 2012 activation.Important Every KMS host key is associated with a group of Windows editions. Additionally, a KMS host key that is associated with Windows client operating systems cannot be installed on Windows server operating systems, and vice-versa. This is true for all Windows operating systems except for Windows Server 2003.

If you install a KMS host key on a Windows operating system that is not associated with that host key, you receive the following error message: 0xc004f015: The Software Licensing Service reported that the license is not installed.SL_E_PRODUCT_SKU_NOT_INSTALLEDFor example, you receive this error message if you try to install a KMS host key for Windows 7 on a computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2.For more information about KMS host keys and about associated groups of Windows editions, see Table 5 in the “Determine Product Key Needs” section of the Volume Activation Planning Guide ( .
To activate the new KMS host key on the host computer, run the following command: cscript %windir%\system32\slmgr.vbs /ato

I had to read this more than once. Using the command cscript %windir%\system32\slmgr.vbs /ipk  worked fine with the Server 2012 KMS key, but not with the Windows 8 key. You can’t mix both Windows 8 and Server 2012 keys on the same box, but it appears that as long as you enter the Server 2012 key, it also allows Windows 8 clients to register.

The secondcommand cscript %windir%\system32\slmgr.vbs /ato makes the server ‘phone home’ and completely register the keys.

Once you’ve got a client registered, you can use the command cscript %windir%\system32\slmgr.vbs /dli to show you when you registered, to which server etc.
Note: The Volume Activation Management Tool is useless for this, as it won’t recognise your new keys.
Good luck!

11 thoughts on “How to add your KMS keys for Windows 8 and Server 2012

  1. I have to say – I hate KMS.

    The utility it provides to the business is fantastic – but the inconsistency of management across products (and even versions of products, such as office) is a royal PITA.

    It’d be really great if Microsoft included a proper GUI for KMS management, or at least a CLI tool which acted consistently. I particularly hate the way that when you ask for a listing of all installed and activated keys that you get what appears to be a VB output window which exceeds the screen size and cannot be resized or scrolled through.

    I’ve just gone through the process of installing Volume Activation on a Windows 2012 R2 server, and then getting the various keys we need installed and activated (remembering that some products needs keys before activations, whilst others do not). And then it behaves differently depending on the context under which you run either the slmgr.vbs script, or the Volume Activation Management GUI, or both. It’s absolutely painful.

  2. I’m now getting errors that my Windows 7 KMS keys aren’t valid. It’s a Windows Server 2012 R2 server with Volume Activation Services installed, it has all the required updates from what I can tell. It also shows an Office Pro Plus 2013 licence as installed, but then clients are failing to utilise the license on the KMS server. It is frustrating.

    1. Hi Robert,
      It can get rather confusing, but it’s also one of those things that once you’ve set it up, it ticks along generally without issue.

      For Windows 7, you may need to add a Windows 7 KMS key on along with the Windows 8 or Server 2012 key. I applied the above onto an exisiting Win7 KMS server, so you may need both.

      Let us know how you go.


      1. Hi Adam,

        I’m trying to add the Win7 KMS key, but am being told that the key isn’t valid. I get the same for the Windows 8.1 key. There’s an update for KMS hosts running on Windows Vista/7/2008/2008R2/2012 that allows you to add KMS keys for Win7 and 8.1, but it isn’t valid on 2012R2.

        Very frustrating – and an issue for further work tomorrow…

      2. Yeah, it seems that the Server 2012 R2 Standard key should activate the downlevel Windows clients – but it isn’t doing so. The Office Pro Plus 2013 key should be working too, but I just got a report from a user of Lync 2013 complaining that there’s four days before the grace period expires. I might have to log a support ticket with Microsoft…

      3. Ah. I forgot about the thresholds. Looking at the logs, I’m starting to see successful activations, so hopefully I was just too quick to check for errors, and it’s really working! :)

        What do you know – current number of Office 2013 activation attempts: 4. Needs to be 5…

      4. Well there you go, glad it was an easy fix in the end. They really should make this more obvious.

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