Setting up a KMS Server

Windows 7 Volume licensing basically has three ways to activate, MAK, MAK proxy and KMS. The first two require a key and the proxy needs to use the Volume Activation Management Tool. I won’t get into MAK today, its is somewhat straight forward. If you need information, check out the information on MAK at TechNet,

What I want to talk about is KMS, Key Management Service. Setting one of these servers up is as easy as making Kraft Dinner. Yes, simple. In reading in the forums I see people having troubles getting one up and going. I’ll walk you through the easiest setup. This walkthrough isn’t meant for someone already using a KMS server for Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008.

If you want to activate Windows 7 clients, the simplest choice is install Windows Server 2008 R2. You can use Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008 but you need to install an update. If you have Server 2008 R2, I recommend using it, its just the easiest thing to do. There is a hierarchy of how the setup works, will give you the low down.

For me, Windows Server 2008 R2 based KMS server made the most sense. The next step is to locate your KMS key for your volume activation. The key you are looking for, is the Windows Server 2008 Std/Ent KMS B (note the KMS B). System Information

Instead of using the MAK key when you enter the key for activation, you will enter in your KMS.

Windows Activation

You will get an warning message that you are using a KMS key, like this.

Windows Activation

Click OK and you will have then made a KMS host machine. That is all there is to it. Some people get worried and think they have to add a Windows 7 key for the KMS host to accept Windows 7 clients. You don’t need to do that, at least I didn’t have to.

The other thing to remember is that in order for your server to activate computers, you must have at least 5 Servers checked in for server activation to occur or 25 Windows 7 or Vista machines checked in for client activation to occur. To check the status of the computers, I find the VAMT tool which comes with the WAIK works well.


About Todd

I am a Microsoft MVP, MCSE and MCT who lives in Kingston, Ontario.

91 Thoughts on “Setting up a KMS Server

  1. Hello,

    Thanks for this walktrough but there’s something I didn’t understand. What’s the difference between Windows Server 2008 Std/Ent KMS
    Windows Server 2008 Std/Ent KMS B?
    We don’t seem to have a “B” version.


  2. Windows Server 2008 Std/Ent KMS doesn’t exist.
    A is Server 2008 Web Edition and will activate other A class servers and Windows 7.
    B is Server 2008 Ent/Std Edition and will activate B and A class servers plus Windows 7.
    C is Server 2008 Data Center and will activate C, B, A class servers and Windows 7

  3. Pingback: Setting up Office 2010 using a KMS Host Server » Deployment » Todd's Blog

  4. Aaron C. de Bruyn on Wednesday, June 9th, 2010 at 3:57 pm said:

    God I hate Windows. It’s stupid crap like this that make me glad I run Linux almost everywhere. I’ve spent hours trying to figure out how to install the KMS server, but it turns out it’s a special license key that allows you to distribute more special license keys for software you’ve already purchased but need to prove you’re allowed to run. How fun.

    It’s times like these that I remember ‘Linux Genuine Advantage’ which was designed to model the Windows Genuine Advantage. (
    Install it, and your box locks you out and refuses to boot.

  5. Thanks Todd for explaining the C class licensing – this is almost too darn easy to setup.

  6. how to add or install windows 7 kms key on windows server 2008

  7. sorry .how to add or install windows 7 kms key on windows server 2008 R2

  8. i can add windows 7 kms key on windows server 2003 but i can’t add add windows 7 kms key on windows server 2008 r2.

    • You don’t need to add a Windows 7 KMS Key on the Server. Activate your KMS Server by using a Windows Server 2008 R2 KMS key on your Windows Server 2008 R2. This will now activate other servers in the same class, like Standard and Enterprise or Datacenter; classes of server below it and client workstations. By adding a patch, you can then also activate Office 2010. For more information about what key will activate what, check out this TechNet page reference.

  9. Hello,

    I have to install a test environnement at work. I’am currently working on VM. My serveur (2008 ent) is installed with a MAK key, the update KB968912 is installed too.

    Could I activate the KMS key on the test server without any problem for the futur production ? How many activation are authorized with this key ?

    Thank you,
    Best Regards,

  10. With “How many activation are authorized with this key ?” I was talking about the KMS server activation online with the slmgr.vbs /ipk command.

    Thank you.

  11. My Server is windows server 2008 r2 Enterprise. Can I add windows 7 kms key?

  12. Don’t forget to enable the “Key Management Service” firewall rule (if you have the firewall enabled.)

  13. Thank you very much. Todd. English is not good. 🙂

  14. Can this method be used to activate Windows XP Professional?
    If not, what method can be used to activate Windows XP in a Domain?
    If yes, can you kindly provide the step-by-step method to activate the Windows XP in a Domain/
    Many thanks to you.

    • No you cannot activate XP Pro with KMS. Activation for Windows XP in the domain uses volume license keys. When you install Windows, enter the key. Put it in an unattend file if you don’t want to have to type it each time.

      A great way to deploy Windows XP is to use Microsoft Deployment Toolkit.

  15. That’s fine for setting up the KMS server but what about the clients? I understand you can type in a MAK key during install (or feed it in via XML file), but how do you tell a client it should look for an internal KMS server instead or an external MS activation server?

  16. Hi, I have a strange problem with KMS. I have setup a KMS host on a 2008 R2 server. But now is that server complaining that my windows is not genuine. Me was told when i install KMS it should activate but this is not true.

  17. Hello,

    I setup a KMS server. I want to activate Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 servers. What Key do I use on the product that I am activating?

  18. Does anybody know if you can restrict which computers can use your server to activate? In my organization, our department is educational, and we have a volume license agreement with Microsoft. However, the rest of the organization doe snot have an agreement, but we share a network. We do use a separate domain; is there a way to tell the KMS serve rto only activate installations on computers that are joined to a specific domain?


  19. I am thinking about setting up a KMS server and all I have access to is server 2003. Is that going to a problem or not. Also I was wondering if I could just use any version of windows 7 with a KMS server.

  20. Hi,

    How many KMS host servers can i have in a network.

    • You can have as many as you want. Your KMS key will only create 6 KMS servers, then you need to call to get more. But realistically, you only want 1 server per well connected network.

  21. How many KMS keys can be installed in a single KMS Host?

  22. Hi Tony,

    Installing a KMS server tonight for the first time and I just wanted to confirm process for my own peice of mind.

    1.Input 2008 r2 B KMS key. (what hapens if the server has been build with a SPLA key. Can I change it to the KMS key without affecting other software running on that box?)

    2. Does the server require a restart?

    3. Once KMS key activated I need o install patch for office 2010 KMS activation.

    4. Does DNS need to be configured or is this done automatically as I’ve read conflicting instructions.

    5. Once the above is complete i should be good to go?

    Sorry I’m a novice at this so I want to get it correct.

    Many thanks


    • Hi Steve,
      Yep, go and chance the key and use a Windows Server 2008R2 KMS key.
      I can’t remember if it needs to reboot, plan for a reboot.
      Install Office 2010 KMS patch. It will ask you for the office 2010 kms key.
      DNS did not configure correctly for me, but your mileage will vary.

      Once you are done this, you should be good to go. I used the VAMT tool to help me manage the activations.

  23. Ok, so i did the above steps and I have 28 windows 7 enterprise computers but the SLMGR.vbs /dlv keeps fluctuating between 10 and 9 clients it sees so it refuses to activate any. and everyone is crying because now windows says it is not genuine.
    is there a way to force all the clients to report in? I tried the VLC tool you mentioned and it gives me the option to activate via KMS but comes back for all 28 saying:
    The Software Licensing Service reported that the computer could not be activated. The count reported by your Key Management Service (KMS) is insufficient. Please contact your system administrator.

    Any ideas?

  24. I need to install Office 2010 in a citrix environment. Is there anything special or differnet I need to do to use license the Office 2010 install onthe citrix server? Will it find the KMS host similar to a workstation install?

  25. Thank you so much for this. This is the first no-nonsense explanation I’ve come across of how you only need the KMS B key to be able to license Windows 7 clients on an R2 KMS server. The conceptual way KMS works could be much improved but you have brought clarity to it. THANKS!

  26. What about if your W2k8 servers and W7 PC’s are in a “closed” environment? How would that work?

  27. How do i go about enabling the KMS to activiate Office 2010? I reckon the process is the same as building the KMS server and all i need to do is to install the Office 2010 patch and Office 2010 would be activiated with the KMS Server?

  28. In our current environment we have win 2008 r2 servers using mak volume license. and also a different mak license for windows 7 pro.

    Now i have 8 xendesktop win 7 machines that needs to activate via kms, what is the best solution for this set up?

    All of my 2008 r2 servers are running mak model also.


  29. Nice explanations Todd, wish I’d found this blog a week ago! Got my KMS server in and it has stats that show Windows 7 clients are reporting in, however could you clarify if these numbers have to be different systems or can the figure be artificially increased if I repeatedly rebuild systems? Would like to get the KMS server activating Windows 7 systems as soon as possible but we are unlikely to have 25 built systems up and running in less than a couple of weeks. Thanks!

  30. I was under the impression that a KMS key must be chosen which matches 2 things: a) the highest product grouping, as in client, web, std/ent or data AND b) the latest generation according to this article on TechNet
    In other words to have Windows 7 and Server 2008 STD/ENT, I would need a Server 2008 R2 STD/ENT because it matches the highest grouping (STD/ENT) and latest generation.
    Is the article incorrect or misleading?

    • Peter, I am not 100% sure. If you are only activating Server 2008 and Windows 7, then you should be able to use a Server 2008 STD or ENT box with a KMS Patch for Windows 7. I have to research to be sure. Using Windows Server 2008 R2 is the easiest, but I didn’t think it was necessary.

  31. Hi

    Read through your no nonsense explanation and setup my KMS on 2008R2 using the R2 KMS key i have and clients are reporting in, 10 at current as i am rolling out a laptop refresh of around 800 (just started the refresh)
    As soon as the KMS polls 25 i assume the clients will be activated? as soon as they are back on the LAN ofcourse?

    Thanks for the info, cleared up a few misunderstandings i was having with KMS.


    • Once you hit the 25 mark, no problem, the KMS will switch over and your off and running. In the meantime though, those 10 machines will still be inactivated and will stop working within 30 days or so. Also remember machines must check in with the KMS Server within 180 days. If they are off the LAN for more than 180 days, you should be using MAK.

  32. Hi Todd,

    Your explanation was simple and effective, unlike MS documentation. Nowhere could I find that you need to use a Win2k8R2 KMS B key to actually activate the KMS server until I found it here.

    Thank You.


  33. Hi,

    A query, i have deployed about 60 clients and they are still sitting reporting via slmgr that (Requests with licence status Initial grace period 60?
    i have checked DNS and all is as should be, i also checked server has direct Internet access.
    Any other things i should check? or may have missed.?

    • In that case I would check on the KMS Server and see how many clients have checked in.
      slmgr /dli on your kms server. Will show if it is activated as a KMS host and will show number of computers checking in.

      On the client, try slmgr /ato to activate the workstation. I like using the VAMT toolkit to help me with activation and it has a GUI.

  34. I’ve just setup my first KMS Server running MS Server 2008 R2 and have run the slmgr /dlv command but I don’t get anything displayed within the command prompt window. I get a popup but don’t get any information regarding cumulative requests received from clients. Is this normal?

  35. Hi Todd,
    Thanks for this tutorial. I have one question though. I’m currently studying for the SCITP exams 70-686 and 70-685 for Windows Enterprise 7 Desktop Administrator and Support Technician. Would it be better to use Windows 7 ultimate at hone for studying for these exams or should I set up a server at home to be able to access Windows 7 Enterprise. I hope that makes sense. Any help you can give would be appreciated. Thanks for writing these great articles. Cheers,
    -James D.

  36. Pingback: KMS and MAK Explained | Ahmed Hussein online

  37. Arthur Stodridge on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 at 7:32 pm said:

    I like the Linux guy that says this is a bad thing! He’s so used to convoluted setups and figuring everything out on his own, that he didn’t realize how simple this is! Dude, I’m a Linux admin too, but I also like elegant design, and setting up a KMS is dead simple.

    Thanks for such a simple, well-written article.

  38. I just loaded up Windows 2008 r2. This server is going to be my KMS server for both Office 2010 and Windows 7. Just to make sure that I understand I will input my KMS B activation key to activate the server or can I use just the MAK for 2008 r2 and then use the KMS B key when I start the steps to getting the server ready to for Office 2010 KMS activation? I don’t have any KMS servers at all at this point. By the way excellent directions and looks easy to follow I just want to make sure I use the right keys.

  39. I think I answered my own question. For the KMS server just to do Windwos 7 client activation I would use the KMS B key to activate the server. To use this same server I would download the program for Office 2010 and load it on the same server and use the KMS key to activate this part. So I would have one server doing both Windows 7 client activations and also Office 2010 activations as well. Is this right? I think I am making this to complicated.

    • Yes, you most certainly can use the same server. That is how I do it. Use the Windows Server KMS B key to activate the Servers and Windows clients, use the Office 2010 KMS key to activate the Office 2010 installs.

  40. Todd:

    Currently we run KMS on 2008 R2. We need to retire this server.

    If I use a KMS key on the replacement server, will clients know to check in to the new server?

  41. I am running KMS on 2008 r2 and all my virtual 2008 servers activated fine. However I am having trouble activating Windows 7 clients. I know I need to have 25 total machines before Window’s 7 starts activating. Since this is a high threshold, I thought I could make some virtual Window’s 7 machines to use towards my count, but this does not seem true. For Window’s 7 machines, do they have to be physical machines? As noted before my 2008 R2 servers were all virtual and counted correctly in my KMS server.


  42. Todd, you seem to understand this a lot better than most people! I am getting ready to switch our Windows 7 systems from MAK to KMS as we reimage a lot and I am still wanting to keep the laptops and netbooks on our systems using their MAK keys. If I install KMS server will it convert all Windows 7 computers to KMS or is there something I need to do? I just want my desktops to go to KMS and the netbooks and laptops to keep their MAK. Any help would be appreciated!

    • No there is no conversion. For machines you use KMS for, simply activate them using the keys in the Volume 2.0 licensing guide (which say use KMS instead) or use the Volume Activation Management Tool to convert the machines you want to KMS. Leave the other ones alone.

  43. Pingback: Office 2010 KMS installation and troubleshooting | prowindowz

  44. Hi Todd,

    I am new to KMS. When I setup KMS Host, does it generate indivdiual keys for all the clients? I think it is easy to record which client using which key.

    what will happen if we format an activated 2008R2 server?
    Does it reduce the total licence by one?



    • Clients check in with a KMS host and provided you are in within your allotment, the client will activate.
      If you are using MAK, then the reduction of a license does happen. Typically you get 5 activations on MAK for each actual license. So 10 servers = 50 total activations.

  45. Hi Todd,

    I am having some issues with getting KMS working. If you could, I would love some help.

    We have a small network of work grouped machines (new school) and an outside company is providing internet and DHCP services.

    I have Windows 2008 Server installed and I have the proper KMS key installed and it checks out ok. The client machines, on the other hand, do not seem to be able to find the KMS server.

    Is this all I have to do, or do we need other services to be running on the network for this to work? Like an internal DNS server and/or a domain. From all of the instructions I have found there are no mentions of these as requirements.

    I would like to avoid a domain set up because I am not an actual employee of the school and they do not have an IT staff to fix it if something goes wrong.

    • You need a DNS that is capable of using SRV records. Those workstations need to point to the DNS server and an entry created for the KMS machine. (Can’t remember what it needs to be off the top of my head).

      Alternatively, you can use SLMGR to activate and point them to your KMS machine. Remember you need at least 25 Windows 7 machines to make this work.

  46. Todd I have an issue. our main domain has over 800 systems. we need to setup a seperate domain that is standalone and the 2 domains will not talk. I need to setup about 15 systems that can activate off the KMS with no MAK key(we were not given one) how can these machines be activated on a private network?

    • For 15 computers, you need MAK or MAK proxy. If you have a KMS key you used to authorize your KMS server, then you have a MAK key, you may just have to hunt it down. On the Microsoft Volume Licensing site is where you can your keys.

  47. Dan Gugenheim on Monday, August 29th, 2011 at 12:45 pm said:

    Liked the walk-through! Naturally, I am looking into KMS at the moment. My main question right now is this… We have purchased three product keys with 7, 15, and 80 Win7 clients. From what I have read, it looks like you only are supposed to use one key on your host. What would I do in my companies’ situation where we have several different keys?

  48. Hi Todd, I have a question regarding KMS to which I couldn’t find answer so far. Very simply – I have domain with a server – KMS host and client’s computers with public KMS keys installed and activated over KMS host. But how about guest computers / other computers not members of domain connecting over wifi or ethernet to the network? Do they also receive activation if they have public KMS key instaled? If I understand well, it could reach KMS host even without beeing a member of a domain right?. Can I prevent these computers from getting the license? Thank you.

  49. Hi,
    I just wandering if there’s any way that we can transfer license of Windows 2008 old server into a new one?


  50. I have a problem in activating Msoffice 2010 using KMS host .

    1.i have installed KMS host in windows2008R2
    2. DNS Srv record also added successfully
    3.Firewall is open and event viewer shows client communicates with KMS host
    4.but in my windows 7 client i am not able to activate msoffice 2010 it is still saying Product key is required status

    5. from client i am using OSpP/sethst command followed by OSpP /act command but

    how can i activate my msoffice

  51. hi todd,

    i got Error 0xC004F074, what seems to be the problem?


  52. We have a KMS Server setup for registering our Windows 7 machines. It was working fine, until recently when I created a new image of win7 and deployed it. Come to find out that these newly imaged machines are all acting as their own KMS Server. I have run the slmgr /upk to unregister them and then /ipk to re-register them. My question is: what do I need to do before imaging a machine in order for it not to show up as a KMS Server? Is there a way to keep these others from showing up on AD as a KMS Server?

  53. Pingback: Pilih lisensi MAK atau MKS untuk aktifasi produk Microsoft ? « Budi bLOG

  54. In our organisation we have on server 2008R2 and would like to use it as KMS Server for Win 7 clients (40).
    Is this posible or we need 5 servers for that?
    Our support company said, that KMS Key will not work vithout 5 servers.

    • Sorry for the delayed response, this will work fine. One server with a KMS running can handle 40 workstations. Your company is mistaken and is thinking you are trying to activate servers which you are not.

  55. is it possible to activate a windows server 2008 std trial version using KMS?

    • depends of it is a VL version or retail. You also need to activate at least 5 servers and they need to keep checking in every 6 months. If it is just one box, easier to use MAK.

  56. Can you have multiple KMS keys on one KMS host?
    I manage three different domains with each domain has there own kms key. Or do I need three different KMS hosts. And have them manually connect to each of their KMS host.

    • you need to have three different servers. Each domain should have its own DNS server. Simply register each domains KMS with its respective DNS server. You could virtualize three KMS boxes on one physical server.

  57. Thanks Todd, I wrote some info on integrating with Office 2010 for KMS that might be helpful for anyone stopping by 🙂 Here’s some more information that might be helpfull,

    Using KMS Server for Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7, and Office 2010


  58. If this is all there is to it, I think I will make the switch from MAK to KMS also…

    I deploy Windows 7 via SCCM but our ISA Server blocks the MAK activation so I suppose KMS is the way to go?

    You also don’t need any other configuration on ISA server for example?

  59. HI,

    We Purchased a new Business , All client/Servers/Office2010 is KMS License.

    I just Install the new KMS Server as above. But how do i redirect all above to new server?


  60. HI,

    “The key you are looking for, is the Windows Server 2008 Std/Ent KMS B (note the KMS B). ”

    You mean Windows 2008 R2 -Key?

    When i add 2008 KMS its not accepted? My Server windows 2008 R2

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