Frequently Asked Questions about Activating Microsoft Products using KMS

KMS is a Microsoft product that automatically activates products and keeps track of their activation status for Windows Operating Systems. The KMS is not used for OS X, Linux, or Unix Operating Systems.

The KMS ensures the University stays compliant with the Microsoft Campus Licensing Agreement and allows the University of Iowa to automate the activation of Microsoft products on Iowa Domain joined Windows workstation.

There are two ways for an Iowa Domain joined workstation to activate its Windows OS and Office Software.

  1. The KMS client, built into Windows, will use its primary DNS suffix to find the service (SRV) record that points to the KMS host
  2. You can specify the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) of the KMS host on the Windows workstation.

There are three ways to check the Activation Status of your Windows workstation:

  1. From a command prompt type in the following information for basic activation status information: slmgr.vbs –dli
  2. From a command prompt type in the following information for detailed activation status information: slmgr.vbs –dlv
  3. Open up the System Control Panel Applet and look for the Windows Activation section and make sure it says: Windows is activated

Note: If you see “X days to activate. Activate Windows now” in the System Control Panel Applet select the link to open the activation wizard.  Then follow the steps to activate your license.

Once your Windows workstation is activated, the operating system will check in with the University of Iowa’s KMS service every 7 days to renew its activation. A KMS activation lasts for approximately 180 days from the last successful activation/renewal of that activation with the University of Iowa's KMS service.

You do not need to do anything if you are on the University of Iowa Campus Network and joined to the Iowa Domain. The KMS service will automatically activate your Windows workstation as well as your Microsoft Office products.

In general, the KMS service is meant to be restricted to campus traffic. For mobile computers, there are two scenarios in which the computer will still be able to activate with the KMS server:

  1. If the computer is only occasionally brought to campus, and connected to the campus network, as long as it does so every 5-6 months for approximately 2-3 hours this should work fine. It does not matter if the computer sometimes fails to connect to the KMS service, as long as it is able to do so periodically within the 180 day activation grace period.
  2. If the computer is not on campus, but regularly connects through the VPN for approximately a 2-3 hour time period, then the computer should be able to communicate with the KMS service while it is connected through the VPN and renew its activation.

Note 1:  For more information see UI Anywhere VPN service. 

Note 2: If relying on method two, keep in mind that you don’t know when the attempt will be made to contact the KMS. Very brief and infrequent connections through UI Anywhere VPN will probably not be enough.

The quickest way to resolve this is to run the following commands in an elevated command prompt on your Windows workstation:

  • Note: If you do not have administrative privileges on your Windows workstation please contact your local Departmental IT Support Consultant to help you run the following commands.

On-Campus Instructions

  1. Force the KMS client to contact the KMS service to activate: slmgr.vbs –ato
  2. Verify activation was successful: slmgr.vbs –dli

Off-Campus Instructions

  1. Connect to UI Anywhere VPN (Instructions: http://its.uiowa.edu/vpn)
  2. Force the KMS client to contact the KMS service to activate: slmgr.vbs –ato
  3. Verify activation was successful: slmgr.vbs –dli

The quickest way to resolve this is to run the following commands in an elevated command prompt on your Windows workstation:

  • Note: If you do not have administrative privileges on your Windows workstation please contact your local Departmental IT Support Consultant to help you run the following commands.

On-Campus Instructions (For Office 2010, 2013, and 2016)

  1. Open an Elevated Command Prompt window.
  2. Run the following command, depending on your version of Office:

Office 2010: (32-Bit Office on 32-Bit OS and 64-Bit Office on 64-Bit OS)

  1. Run the following command to activate you Office Product: cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\ospp.vbs" /act
  2. Run the following command to verify your Office Product activation: cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\ospp.vbs" /dstatus

Office 2010: (32-Bit Office on 64-Bit OS)

  1. Run the following command to activate you Office Product: cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\ospp.vbs" /act
  2. Run the following command to verify your Office Product activation: cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\ospp.vbs" /dstatus

Office 2013: (32-Bit Office on 32-Bit OS and 64-Bit Office on 64-Bit OS)

  1. Run the following command to activate you Office Product: cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\ospp.vbs" /act
  2. Run the following command to verify your Office Product activation: cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\ospp.vbs" /dstatus

Office 2013: (32-Bit Office on 64-Bit OS)

  1. Run the following command to activate you Office Product: cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\ospp.vbs" /act
  2. Run the following command to verify your Office Product activation: cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\ospp.vbs" /dstatus

Office 2016: (32-Bit Office on 32-Bit OS and 64-Bit Office on 64-Bit OS)

  1. Run the following command to activate you Office Product: cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /act
  2. Run the following command to verify your Office Product activation: cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /dstatus
     

Office 2016: (32-Bit Office on 64-Bit OS)

  1. Run the following command to activate you Office Product: cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /act
  2. Run the following command to verify your Office Product activation: cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /dstatus

Off-Campus Instructions (For Office 2010, 2013, 2016)

  1. Connect to UI Anywhere VPN.
  2. Open an Elevated Command Prompt window.
  3. Run the following command, depending on your version of Office:

Office 2010: (32-Bit Office on 32-Bit OS and 64-Bit Office on 64-Bit OS)

  1. Run the following command to activate you Office Product: cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\ospp.vbs" /act
  2. Run the following command to verify your Office Product activation: cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\ospp.vbs" /dstatus

Office 2010: (32-Bit Office on 64-Bit OS)

  1. Run the following command to activate you Office Product: cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\ospp.vbs" /act
  2. Run the following command to verify your Office Product activation: cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\ospp.vbs" /dstatus

Office 2013: (32-Bit Office on 32-Bit OS and 64-Bit Office on 64-Bit OS)

  1. Run the following command to activate you Office Product: cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\ospp.vbs" /act
  2. Run the following command to verify your Office Product activation: cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\ospp.vbs" /dstatus

Office 2013: (32-Bit Office on 64-Bit OS)

  1. Run the following command to activate you Office Product: cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\ospp.vbs" /act
  2. Run the following command to verify your Office Product activation: cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\ospp.vbs" /dstatus

Office 2016: (32-Bit Office on 32-Bit OS and 64-Bit Office on 64-Bit OS)

  1. Run the following command to activate you Office Product: cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /act
  2. Run the following command to verify your Office Product activation: cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /dstatus

Office 2016: (32-Bit Office on 64-Bit OS)

  1. Run the following command to activate you Office Product: cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /act
  2. Run the following command to verify your Office Product activation: cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /dstatus

There are three recommended ways of doing this on the University of Iowa Campus.

  1. Allow the KMS hosts to dynamically register the records. ***If the domain is part of the uiowa.edu Active Directory forest, the KMS service can be configured to register service records automatically in your domain. This has the advantage of automatically maintaining records for all KMS servers.
  2. Contact (the ITS Help Desk via email at its-helpdesk@uiowa.edu or by telephone at 4-HELP) to have your domain added to the KMS publication list.
  3. Manually create a service record for the KMS host.
  • You can create the service record in your domain with the following information:
    • Service: _VLMCS
    • Protocol: _tcp
    • Priority: 0
    • Weight: 0
    • Port number: 1688
    • Host: kms.iowa.uiowa.edu

Note: This should result in a record that looks like this when viewed from the DNS console on a Windows DNS server: _VLMCS SRV [0][0][1688] kms.iowa.uiowa.edu

You can verify your settings with the following command:
nslookup –type=srv _vlmcs._tcp.domain1.uiowa.edu

Note: domain1.uiowa.edu is the DNS Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) of your domain.

The quickest way to resolve this is to run the following commands in an elevated command prompt on your Windows workstation:

  • Note: If you do not have administrative privileges on your Windows workstation please contact your local Departmental IT Support Consultant to help you run the following commands.
  1. Open an elevated command prompt
  2. Run the following command to set the KMS host manually on your local Windows workstation: slmgr.vbs –skms kms.iowa.uiowa.edu

Note: This does not actually activate the computer. Activation will happen within about 2 hours automatically. If you need to activate right away please follow the steps in "Help! My Iowa Domain joined Windows workstation says it is not activated!"

Article number: 
103854
Last updated: 
May 23, 2017
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