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William Cook
William Cook

How To Activate Windows Server Without Product Key


Hi Guang,thanks a lot for the detailed instructions. Worked fine for Windows 2022 DC. It was annoying to always re-install the server after the 180 days of evaluation period was gone. Even for testing purposes that may last longer than the granted 180 days.1 question is remaining: What happens if MS asks you to shut down the webpage/KMS server or if you do this on your own ? Because when I cut the internet connection and changed the system date to 2025 Windows told me that the system cannot be activated because the KMS server is not reachable




How to activate Windows Server without product key



Windows Server 2019 requires license activation after 180 days, otherwise the system will shut down. With multiple server workloads, it's not efficient to log in to each machine and manually activate them. There are also times when entering a valid key from the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) will not work. Errors and key rejection can happen, often for no apparent reason. To avoid frustration with the server GUI, it's beneficial to learn how to activate the Windows Server 2019 license through alternative methods such as the command line or Key Management Services (KMS).


A pop-up dialog box will show if the operation failed or succeeded. Microsoft recommends a server restart after a successful activation attempt. After a reboot, Server Manager will show the activated server.


KMS clients connect to a KMS server, also called the KMS host, on the network for activation. A KMS host can be a VM or physical machine. To activate a computer running Windows Server 2019, the KMS host must use one of the following OSes: Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016 or Windows Server 2019.


You must use a valid product key to activate Windows. Your product key should be in the confirmation email you received after buying Windows, included with the packaging that came with your device, or on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached to the back or bottom of your device.


You upgraded to Windows 11, but the activation servers were busy. If you upgraded from an activated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, your copy of Windows 11 will be automatically activated, or you can wait a while and then select Activate. If you continue to have problems with activation, contact customer support.


You might see this error if you entered a product key for a different version or edition of Windows. For example, a product key for the Enterprise edition of Windows 11can't be used to activate Windows 11 Home or Windows 11 Core editions.


You might see this error if the product key has already been used on another device, or it's being used on more devices than the Microsoft Software License Terms allow. To fix the problem, buy a product key for each one of your devices to activate Windows on them.


If you made a substantial hardware changes to your device (such as replacing the motherboard) and you have a valid product key, try to activate Windows by phone. In the search box on the taskbar, type SLUI 04, select SLUI 04 from the list of results, and then follow the instructions on the screen to activate Windows. For more info about reactivating Windows 11 (Version 1607 or later) after a hardware change, see Reactivating Windows after a hardware change.


You might see this error if you entered a product key for the Enterprise edition of Windows to activate Windows 11 Home or Windows 11 Pro. Enter a product key that matches the edition of Windows on your device.


This error occurs when a Volume License (a license that was bought from Microsoft by an organization to install Windows on multiple devices) was used on more devices than the Microsoft Software License Terms allow. To fix the problem, you might need to use a different product key to activate Windows on your device. Contact your organization's support person for more info.


You might see this error if you entered a product key for the Enterprise edition of Windows to activate Windows 11 Home or Windows 11 Pro. Try entering a product key that matches the edition of Windows on your device.


You upgraded to Windows 10, but the activation servers were busy. If you upgraded from an activated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, your copy of Windows 10 will be automatically activated, or you can wait a while and then select Activate. If you continue to have problems with activation, contact customer support.


You might see this error if you entered a product key for a different version or edition of Windows. For example, a product key for the Enterprise edition of Windows 10 can't be used to activate Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Core editions.


If you made a substantial hardware changes to your device (such as replacing the motherboard) and you have a valid product key, try to activate Windows by phone. In the search box on the taskbar, type SLUI 04, select SLUI 04 from the list of results, and then follow the instructions on the screen to activate Windows. For more info about reactivating Windows 10 (Version 1607 or later) after a hardware change, see Reactivating Windows after a hardware change.


You might see this error if you entered a product key for the Enterprise edition of Windows to activate Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro. Enter a product key that matches the edition of Windows on your device.


You might see this error if you entered a product key for the Enterprise edition of Windows to activate Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro. Try entering a product key that matches the edition of Windows on your device.


If yes, then I highly recommend that you should purchase a Volume License and build a KMS Server. That way, you don't even have to worry about customising the PID key and the KMS server will automatically activate your Windows clients after they get domain joined. That is actually the whole point of what somebody referred to as the "generic" PID key which is actually KMS Client PID key. Your KMS server which has the KMS Server PID key will automatically search for clients on your domain and keep them activated on a recurring schedule.


All current Windows products require activation with Microsoft to confirm their validity and prevent software piracy. This can be a simple and easy process for computers connected to the internet or in an office environment with access to a Key Management Server (KMS), which can handle the activation process in the background. KMS periodically reactivates Windows on machines to ensure their licenses remain legitimate.


In my case, I ran afoul of a rampant Windows activation prompt on several company-owned servers I administer because the KMS server went down and eventually the servers stopped using what they considered valid licenses. Worse, Microsoft limits the functionality of unactivated Windows machines, preventing you from performing tasks such as customizing the taskbar or applying patches.


Since these servers were due for some critical patches to be applied, I needed to move as fast as possible. I was able to quickly get Windows activated on these machines while also preparing to get a new KMS server stood up after the fact. I conducted these steps on several Windows 2012 machines, but they should also apply to Windows 10, 11 and 2016.


I was then taken to the screen shown in Figure F, which gave me eight sequences of numbers as shown. These numbers are based upon the numbers that had been displayed on my server screen under the Installation ID section. They are unique and based upon my Windows product code, so they will activate only that server.


This article should help you if you performing productive tasks in the evaluation version of Windows Server and want to upgrade it to full Windows Server edition while keeping your data and without the need to completely reinstall the operating system.


Same panick here at first. ToDo -> Convert Eval to Full on a Domain Controller. That is not supported! From elevated cmd prompt the installation of productkey was less then one hour. Hangs a bit at 10%. At first reboot of Domain Controller, the DC was incorrectly connected to private network instead of domain network. After gpupdate and a few (2x) restarts everything seems fine again. Sidenote: I did however had to reactivate Windows also through the GUI. Checked Winver.exe and seems fine.


Thanks for this topic. I successfully applied this guide to an AD DS on Windows server 2019 without having the necessity to uninstall the role and demote the DC.No differences between a server with AD or not. It was a great joy for me !


So long as you already have a legitimate copy of an older Windows version installed and activated with its own unique product key on your computer then you could upgrade to a fully activated Windows 10 operating system without a new product key.


Microsoft's Key Management Service (KMS) is an activation service that allows organizations to activate Windows systems within their own network, eliminating the need for individual computers to connect to Microsoft for product activation. It doesn't require a dedicated system and can be easily co-hosted on a system that provides other services.


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