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KMS Information

  How KMS Works

KMS is a network service that is used to activate volume licensed Microsoft products. It is the method that we have been provided by Microsoft, and it generally works well. It is a small network service that depends on DNS to work correctly. Computer data for systems activated via the KMS is not transmitted to Microsoft, unlike when directly entering the serial key, (or MAK).

KMS clients contact the server once every seven days. Upon contact, they activate/renew their license for 180 days. So it's a sliding 180 day window that renews every seven days. If it doesn't contact the server in that seven day period, it will keep trying every day after until it is successful, or the 180 day window expires.

If activation does not occur during the 180-day period, it goes into the out-of-tolerance state for 30 days. Users then see notifications requesting activation.

After that 30 day period expires, it goes into the Unlicensed Notification state and some stuff stops working.

According to Microsoft's site, it is supposed to be the same time periods for both Office and Windows.

Microsoft's Technet Article for general KMS info
Microsoft's Technet Article for Office and KMS

Troubleshooting Information

By far, the most common reason computers fail to activate via the KMS is Date/Time. The date and time of the computer MUST be correct or the server will reject the request. The server allows for a maximum 4-hour time variance. So if your clock shows the correct time, double-check the am/pm setting, then check your date for the correct year, month, and day. This accounts for 95% or more of the activation failures we've seen.

All of your DNS settings must also be correct. The easiest thing to check here is, Can you ping the server using the DNS name?
Open a command prompt and type: ping kms2.ohio.edu
If that fails, your DNS settings need to be looked at. The DNS suffix has been known to be an issue from people who changed their settings for some reason. Your suffix needs to be ohio.edu, or ohio.edu should be in your DNS Search order. If you have some reason to not use this suffix, you will have to run the activation commands manually. (Detailed below.)

You can check if the KMS service is working for you by opening a command prompt and typing:
nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp.ohio.edu
If the service is working from your location, you should receive output that looks like this:

If your system doesn't produce a similar return, you need to look at your DNS settings.

If you are not using Ohio University's DNS servers, activation will fail for your computer. (DNS servers outside of Ohio U. will naturally not know anything about our internal servers so therefore could not provide you the correct address.) Again, you can run the commands to activate manually. Similarly, if you are using your own DNS server on campus, activation will fail unless you add an SRV record similar to the one below, substituting DOMAIN with your DNS suffix:

_vlmcs._tcp.DOMAIN SRV service location:
    priority    = 0
    weight    = 0
    port    = 1688
    svr hostname    = kms2.ohio.edu

Manual Activation Commands

For Windows Activation:
As long as users are in the Ohio IP address space, they can manually point their client at our KMS server to be activated. It is a two step process using the SLMGR.VBS script file, and the commands generally take 20-30 seconds (sometimes more, sometimes less) to run. These commands will need to be run from an Admin command prompt.
First, run:
  • slmgr.vbs /skms kms2.ohio.edu:1688
  • This should return something like this:
    Second, run:
  • slmgr.vbs /ato
  • This should return something like this:

    If you really want to tinker with making a computer that is somewhat non-standard activate using the KMS, you can experiment with the many switch options to the slmgr.vbs file. Open a command prompt window and type: slmgr /?
    You will be presented with many pages of switches that you can use - some of which do not apply to our environment and will do nothing if used. Some, if used incorrectly, will break your activation renewal process until you fix whatever you changed.

    For Office Activation:
    Activating Office manually is similar, but it has its own vbscript file to handle the process. The script file is called OSPP.VBS and is located in the folder where Office is installed; this will usually be something like C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15. This script also requires you to launch it using the cscript engine. To trigger a manual activation of Office, open an Admin command prompt in that folder and run the following commands:

    • cscript ospp.vbs /sethst:kms2.ohio.edu
    • cscript ospp.vbs /setprt:1688
    • cscript ospp.vbs /act

    There are many more options for this script file, as well.
    If you want to dig into troubleshooting with this one, Microsoft has a pretty good Technet page describing all the switch options.

    Microsoft's Technet Article for the Office activation script.

    There is one other issue that has popped up a couple of times, but this has been more of a user malfunction rather than a KMS issue. There have been a couple of incidents where somebody has brought in a Consumer version disc for Windows and/or Office where they did not have the Key that came with it. Then they wanted it to activate against our KMS. *-This will NOT work. Ever.-* KMS only activates the Enterprise versions of products.

    ==Ron W.