How To Enable Office 2013 KMS Host


Following on from my previous blog on “How to add your KMS keys for Windows 8 and Server 2012, here’s how you can enable a KMS Host (Key Management Service) for Office 2013.

Server End

First, you’ll need access to Microsoft VLSC (Volume Licensing Service Center) here: Update: You can also download it from here

From there, under the ‘Downloads and Keys’ section you’ll need to find ‘Office Professional Plus 2013 Key Management Service Host’ or Office Standard Key Management Service Host’ depending what you’re licensed for. It’s a 800kb ISO file.

Once downloaded and extracted/mounted, you’ll need to go to your already configured KMS Host which is running your Windows KMS Host activation. If you’ve already got Widnows 8/Server 2012 running then it could be easier, as there were some patches for the pre-release version of this tool, and that will possibly apply to this proper release.

On the KMS Host, open your command prompt and run the command ‘cscript kms_host.vbs’ (assuming you’ve navigated to the directory containing the extracted ISO). It’ll do it’s thing as per this screenshot:


Then, as long as you’ve been kind to the licensing Gods it will prompt you saying that the install was successful, and would you like to enter and activate your Office 2013 KMS key now? Yes please you’ll reply, realising you’re talking to your PC.

Enter your key including dashes (obtained from VLSC under the actual Office 2013 product download) and nervously wait, while it gives no indication anything is happening for 10 seconds or so. Eventually you’ll get another prompt saying the key has been successfully installed and activated. You will be able to see this from the Volume Activation Management Tool under the ‘Licensed’ area.

Client End

The Office 2013 client automatically installs using the client KMS. There are two keys remember, being the KMS Host and KMS Client. The KMS Host is obtained via VLSC and individual to your organisation, while the KMS Client key is standard worldwide, and the default for install. The KMS Client key is also referred to as the Generic Volume License Key (GVLK). More info including the publically available keys here:

To force client activation, run the command ‘cscript ospp.vbs /act‘ from the C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\ folder. More info on that here:

You’ll now probably get an error saying “The count reported by your Key Management Service (KMS) is insufficient.” with an error code 0xC004F038.

I believe you need 5 unique PCs to request a key before your KMS Host will start giving them out (reference for Office 2010 I haven’t had a chance yet to test this, so please let me know if you find out more.

Update: As confirmed by this page, you need 5 unique PCs


Windows 8 With A Mouse And Keyboard

Over the last month or so, I’ve read a lot of comments and articles from people complaining about Windows 8 being designed as a touch interface OS, and that it’s terrible for desktops. I can understand how people react this way, but disagree. There’s a few little tips and tricks in Windows 8 that make it easy to use with a mouse and keyboard, but unless you know them it can be a bit painful to use.

Just to get something out of the way – Metro isn’t the name for the Windows 8 interface anymore, it’s ‘Modern UI’. Further reading on this here:

Anyway, here are the basics of using Windows 8 with a keyboard and mouse that should make your experience much nicer:

1. The Windows Key. Use it to flick back to your desktop mode, because that’s where you’ll be doing most of your stuff. You can still create desktop shortcuts to launch your apps from here if you prefer.

2. Bottom Left Corner in Desktop Mode: Put your cursor to the bottom left, and you’ll see a little ‘Start’ box pop up. This isn’t a Start Menu (sorry Start Menu lovers), it just takes you back to the Tiles screen. Unexciting so far, but if you right click on this little window you are presented with a list of handy options. You can also press ‘Windows Key + X’ to bring this menu up:


3. Charms bar. Move your cursor to either the top right or bottom right corner, then bring it to the middle of the right of the screen (like you’re drawing a tick, and no, not THE Tick The Charms bar is context aware, so some options will change depending what you’ve got open in front of you. The Charms bar has a lot of handy options under the Settings area, including the power option to do a shut down or restart. If you prefer a shortcut key, Alt-F4 from desktop mode will bring up the old style ‘Sign Out/Sleep/Shutdown/Restart’ options.

4. The Modern UI Interface. For the most part I don’t use it, but think of it as a giant search bar. Indexing works really well in Windows 8, so just type the file, setting or program you’re looking for and it will present all the things it finds. Again, just puting your cursor in the bottom left hand corner and clicking the Start windows that pops up will take you there, or pressing the Windows key will do the same. You can start typing your search from the main Tiles screen, you don’t need to click on any search options.

That’s it. 4 small things that should make your Windows 8 experience when using a keyboard and mouse much nicer. Feel free to comment on any tips and I’ll update the article.

Update: Chris Knight pointed out that people want their start button back, and recommended this article for some ways on how to do it:

Windows To Go

Windows To Go is a new feature that comes with Windows 8. This will let you run Windows 8 straight from a USB rather than an internal hard drive, which lets you move around and use almost any hardware without much effort. There is a bunch of information from Microsoft here: if you care to read further.

Why use Windows To Go instead of just doing a few tricks and installing Windows 8 on a USB?

  • Windows To Go blocks access to the local hard drive – this may be good in corporate environments, but bad for home users and enthusiasts (which is why Windows To Go is part of Windows 8 Enterprise and not all flavours)
  • Windows To Go has built in protection if you accidently unplug your USB stick. It will wait 60 seconds before killing off your frozen Windows 8 session. If you plug in the USB stick again before the 60 seconds is up, your session will continue with a little warning about the dangers of unplugging a USB stick.
  • It’s an official supported way of running Windows 8 off a USB stick. SCCM 2012 is supported talking to the device too, so you can roll out apps the same way you would to any other PC in a Microsoft supported fashion.
  • Licensing. As taken from Microsoft’s FAQ ( ):
    Wndows To Go allows organization to support the use of privately owned PCs at the home or office with more secure access to their organizational resources. With Windows To Go use rights under Software Assurance, an employee will be able to use Windows To Go on any company PC licensed with Software Assurance as well as from their home PC. Additionally, through a new companion device license for Software Assurance, employees will be able to use Windows To Go on their personal computers at work.
  • Using the official method of creating a Windows To Go USB stick ensures you’re using hardware that meets Microsoft’s specifications and has been tested.

The first caveat for Windows To Go is that as of the time of writing this post, there are only two USB sticks supported (You can’t just use any USB stick!);



For Australians, unless you’re buying from overseas your only choice is the Kingston. Super Talent doesn’t have any Australian distribution (confirmed via Twitter here )
So, after some chasing around I finally managed to get my hands on a Kingston.
The USB stick is actually quite heavy and thick. About double the weight thickness of a regular USB 2.0 stick, and runs quite hot (not too hot to touch, but enough to actually make you think ‘that’s warm’ when removing it).
To create your Windows To Go USB, you first need to have a Windows 8 installation. From that, search for ‘Windows To Go’ and you’ll find the option to create one.
Aidan Finn’s blog has great instructions on how to do this, so I won’t duplicate his work:
You need to have the original Windows 8 install files too as it looks for the install.wim.
I suggest choosing the option for Bitlocker. If you don’t, your data on the USB will be readable quite easily. The bitlocker password isn’t linked to your login password, or anything else to do with the actual image. You can integrate Bitlocker recovery with AD, but that’s a whole different discussion. For people using a Live ID, you can set up the key so that if you forget the Bitlocker passwords, you can go to and log in with your Live ID, and reset the password.
Bitlocker will also prevent someone cloning the USB key. It’s still a PC, so if one was lost you’d just remove the computer object from AD so it couldn’t authenticate against the domain anymore.
Other things to note about Windows To Go:
The USB stick is 3.0 but will actually work in a 2.0 port. It still works quite fast, I personally haven’t noticed any issue in running it this way.
Windows will try to use inbuilt drivers where it can, but if it doesn’t you’ll need to add the extra drivers onto the USB stick. The driver support is great though, so hopefully this won’t be too much of an issue.
Performance even via a USB 2.0 port was great from my experience, and I’ll use it as my main Windows 8 PC (easy way of doing an inplace upgrade with failback option!). Also, this is a great way to test Windows 8 on different hardware.
If you have any questions or want me to do any tests, please let me know!

Missing ISO Options in Windows 8

After doing an in-place upgrade from Windows 7 to 8, I was keen to check out the inbuilt ISO support. An ISO file is a single file which contains the image of a CD or DVD (or even a Blu-ray), similar in a way to a ZIP or RAR file. An ISO can be burnt back onto optical media, but more conveniently it can be mounted so the operating system presents it as a seperate drive, without actually needing any actual optical media.

Windows 8 has the option of mounting an ISO file natively. All you do is right click an ISO, choose ‘Mount’ and you’ll see an extra drive (often E:\ is your first available) with the ISO contents. This is great, but I was missing the option completely after my upgrade!

I discovered that this was because I had Daemon Tools installed, which in Windows 7 gives you the same functionality, but doesn’t work after upgrading. To fix this, and get Windows 8 to do it you’ll need to reassociate .ISO files to Windows Explorer.

Search for the phrase ‘File Association’ and choose the option ‘Change the file type associated with a file extension’

Once in this program, find the .ISO extension and click ‘Change program’. You should just be able to choose ‘Windows Explorer’ from this point, but if not, click on ‘More options’ then ‘Look for another app on this PC’ – then from the ‘Open With…’ dialog, locate and open the file  ‘C:\Windows\explorer.exe’

Once this is done, the .iso option will actually disappear from the list of file extension associations. Go back to Windows Explorer, right click on the ISO file and you’ll now have your Mount and Burn Disk Image options!


Printing from Windows 8 Modern UI-Style Apps

Using the inbuilt PDF reader in Windows 8 is great, basic and easy to use. But what about printing the document? This one didn’t jump out at me when investigating, so figured it was worth sharing.

Right clicking to bring up the bottom menu gives you options like ‘Save as’ and ‘ More > Info’ but there’s no print option!

There’s a couple of default ways to print from all Windows 8 modern UI-style apps (you can’t use the word Metro anymore – ).

The quickest for a keyboard shortcut lover is Ctrl-P. This brings up the print menu from the right hand side, and lets you choose which installed printer to print to.

For the touchy-feely type, bring up the charms menu by either swiping from the right hand side, or with a mouse, move your pointer to the right top or bottom corner, and move the pointer towards the middle. From the charms menu, select ‘Devices’ and you’ll be able to choose your printer there.

I think Microsoft could have made this a bit clearer for printing, but at the same time they are trying to get everyone to follow a certain method for doing similar things – if you want to do something to any connected device such as a printer or a second screen, do it via the devices area. Windows 7 already was doing this with the Devices and Printers area in the control panel, so this is just the next step.

Good luck!