Microsoft Key Management Services (KMS)

What is KMS?

Microsoft Key Management Services (KMS) provides a way to automatically activate volume license editions of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. It is designed to allow Volume Licensing customers to automate the activation process in a way that is transparent to end users. Volume Activation applies to systems that are covered under a Volume Licensing program and is used strictly as a tool for activation and not tied to license invoicing or billing.

Supported Products

KMS activation is available for the following Microsoft products that are distributed by Software Acquisitions Office.

  • Windows 7 (Enterprise Edition)
  • Windows 8 / 8.1 (Enterprise Editions)
  • Windows 10 (Education and Enterprise Editions)
  • Windows Server 2008 / 2008 R2 (Enterprise Editions)
  • Windows Server 2012 (Enterprise Edition)
  • Microsoft Office 2010 & 2013

How KMS Works

When a supported version of Windows or Microsoft Office is installed, the computer will attempt to discover the KMS Server on the network. This is accomplished by checking for a SRV record in the DNS Zone of the computer. If that record is present, the computer will contact the KMS server and automatically activate the license. KMS activations are valid for 180 days. The computer will periodically check in with the KMS server to renew the computer’s activation.

Please note: the initial KMS activation process requires network connectivity to the campus network, either through a wired, wireless, or VPN connection. Computers must also connect to the campus network at least once every 180 days to re-activate.

KMS is not a suitable activation method for computers that do not have network access or do not connect to the campus network at least once every 180 days. In these cases, there is an alternate activation method, Multiple Activation Key (MAK). Click here to see more information about ordering the appropriate media from Software Acquistions.

Activating with KMS: New Installations

From Networks That Allow KMS Automatic Discovery

Most networks on campus, including wireless networks will allow KMS if it is available, and your software should automatically activate. No action should be required. However you can check to see if the auto-discovery is allowed on your network by doing the following:

Note: For automatic discovery to work, the KMS SRV record must be present in the DNS zone of the computer. For example, a computer with the DNS address computer_name.ad.unc.edu would check the ad.unc.edu zone. A computer with the DNS address computer_name.its.unc.edu would check the its.unc.edu zone.

To determine if the required record is present in a domain, run the following command using command prompt for windows:   nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp.<domain>

Note: Replace the <domain> with your domain such as “ad.unc.edu”

 

If the correct record is present, you should see something like this:

_vlmcs._tcp.<domain> SRV service location:

priority = 0

weight = 100

port = 1688

svr hostname = its-kms1.ad.unc.edu

 

If this test fails, you will need to have the following DNS record added to the DNS zone:

_vlmcs._tcp.<domain>. 3600 IN SRV 0 100 1688 its-kms1.ad.unc.edu.

From Networks That Do Not Allow KMS Automatic Discovery

In cases where automatic discovery doesn’t work, Windows and Microsoft Office can be manually pointed to the KMS server. To manually activate Windows or Microsoft Office, use the following steps:

Manual Windows Activation

  1. Open a command prompt with elevation (Right click and run as administrator).
  2. Run the following command to point Windows to the KMS server.    cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -skms its-kms1.ad.unc.edu
  3. Run the following command to activate Windows.    cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -ato

Manual Microsoft Office Activation

In cases where automatic discovery doesn’t work, Microsoft Office can be manually pointed to the KMS server. To manually activate Microsoft Office, use the following steps:

  1. Open a command prompt with elevation.
  2. Navigate to the Office installation folder using the “CD” command. These are the typical folder locations:
    • Office 2010 32-bit: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14
    • Office 2010 64-bit: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14
    • Office 2013 32-bit: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15
    • Office 2013 64-bit: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15
      Example: CD C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15
  3. Press Enter
  4. Run the following command to point Office to the KMS server.  cscript ospp.vbs /sethst:its-kms1.ad.unc.edu
  5. Run the following command to activate Office.   cscript ospp.vbs /act

Activating With KMS: Switching from MAK Activation

If you have previously activated Windows or Microsoft Office by typing in a Product Key, your IT admin can switch your activation method to KMS. He or she would also need to do this if someone attempted to activate your software with an invalid or expired Product Key. IT admins should do the following steps:

Windows and Windows Server (all supported versions):

Note: Generic License Volume Key (GLVK) means you will need to replace the text “GLVK” with your key.

  1. Open a command prompt with elevation (Right click and run as administrator).
  2. Run the following command to point Windows to the KMS server.  cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs /ipk GLVK(type out your key here)
  3. Press Enter.
  4. Run the following command to activate Windows.  cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -ato
  5. Press Enter.
  6. Close the command prompt window.

Microsoft Office (all supported versions)

  1. Open a command prompt with elevation.
  2. Navigate to the Office installation folder using the “CD” command. These are the typical folder locations:
    • Office 2010 32-bit: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14
    • Office 2010 64-bit: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14
    • Office 2013 32-bit: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15
    • Office 2013 64-bit: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15
      Example: CD C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15
  3. Press Enter
  4. Run the following command to point Office to the KMS server.
    cscript ospp.vbs /inpkey:XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
  5. Press Enter.
  6. Run the following command to activate Office.
    cscript ospp.vbs /act
  7. Press Enter.
  8. Close the command prompt window.

Activating from Off Campus

Our KMS activation server is only reachable from within the UNC network. However, you can still activate via KMS from off-campus by connecting to UNC Network with our Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. When you connect to UNC via VPN, your computer is on the UNC network, and has full access to services that are restricted to campus. This includes the KMS activation server. For instructions on how to configure the Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, please see our VPN Installations and Clients document.

Once you have connected to the VPN server, your software should activate automatically. The activation will be good for 180 days. If 180 days pass without reconnecting to the UNC network, your software will enter its 30-day grace period mode, and display a warning message. You can take that as a prompt to connect to the VPN again.

Please note that it can take up to two hours for automated activation to take effect. If you need to activate sooner, you may follow the manual KMS activation procedure above while connected to the VPN.