[UPDATE: Updated to include just Windows 10 and 11. ]
Here are some troubleshooting steps — for my future reference as much as anyone else’s — for for gathering information for diagnosing and resolving Windows KMS client activation issues.
Quick Fix: Try this first!
Enter the code above and attempt to reactivate. If it works, you should be all set. If it doesn’t, the following steps will help identify the issue.
Gathering data is essential to fixing problems. If you ask me (or other IT staff) for help with Windows activation, the first thing I will ask from you is the output of the commands below.
I recommend opening a text editor and copying all the commands and output into a file, which you can send to us if you need additional help resolving the activation issue.
NOTE: All these steps require running commands from a console window (cmd.exe), which you may need to run As Administrator. These commands work in Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10.
1. Run ipconfig /all to capture current IP configuration information.
This could tell us whether the system is in a netreg-ed subnet and needs to register at http://netreg.uvm.edu, or if there are other basic network configuration problems. We really just need the Ethernet adapter, assuming that’s what is being used to connect the system to the network. We don’t need all the additional tunneling adapters, etc. If someone is using a wireless adapter, possibly with the VPN client, then info about those adapters also should be captured.
2. Run a DNS query to make sure the system. (Note the space between srv and _vlmcs):
C:\> nslookup -q=srv _vlmcs._tcp
This command should return our campus KMS info  :
Server: ns1.uvm.edu Address: 22.214.171.124 _vlmcs._tcp.uvm.edu SRV service location: priority = 0 weight = 0 port = 1688 svr hostname = kms1.campus.ad.uvm.edu uvm.edu nameserver = ns2.uvm.edu uvm.edu nameserver = ns1.uvm.edu kms1.campus.ad.uvm.edu internet address = 126.96.36.199 ns1.uvm.edu internet address = 188.8.131.52 ns2.uvm.edu internet address = 184.108.40.206 ns1.uvm.edu AAAA IPv6 address = 2620:104:e001:1002::a ns2.uvm.edu AAAA IPv6 address = 2620:104:e001:1003::a
3. Capture licensing status with slmgr.vbs
This command changes the default script host to cscript, so that output will go to the command prompt instead of a pop-up dialog box.
C:\> cscript /h:cscript
Then capture the output of
C:\> slmgr.vbs -dlv
On a system where activation is working, the output should resemble the following:
Microsoft (R) Windows Script Host Version 5.8 Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Name: Windows(R) 7, Enterprise edition Description: Windows Operating System - Windows(R) 7, VOLUME_KMSCLIENT channel Partial Product Key: HVTHH License Status: Licensed Volume activation expiration: 258900 minute(s) (179 day(s)) Key Management Service client information Client Machine ID (CMID): [long string] KMS machine name from DNS: kms1.campus.ad.uvm.edu:1688 KMS machine extended PID: [long string] Activation interval: 120 minutes Renewal interval: 10080 minutes KMS host caching is enabled
Capturing these pieces of information is important in helping us identify whether there’s a problem with a machine or two, a systemic problem that affects many people, or even an infrastructure failure.
1. IP configuration.
This volume licensing process depends on a regular functioning connection to the campus network. Without this connectivity, a system’s activation will expire, leading to reduced functionality mode prior to Service Pack 1, and annoying out-of-compliance non-genuine warnings if the system has SP1.
So regular network troubleshooting steps may come into play. If a system is going to be off site for extended periods of time, we have another mechanism that we can use to provide a perpetual (non-expiring) license.
2. DNS query doesn’t return valid KMS information
If the information is missing or incorrect, the client system won’t know where to go to obtain an activation. Since Windows volume license 2.0 requires periodic renewal of the activation, this issue should be addressed, or the activation will fail in the future.
A quick fix, though, is to tell Windows what server to use, thusly:
C:\> slmgr.vbs -skms kms1.campus.ad.uvm.edu
assuming the client system can resolve that name to the right IP. And then force an activation attempt:
C:\> slmgr.vbs -ato
But if client does correctly receive the DNS response and still can’t activate, other things to could be going on…
3. Problems with license configuration
I have seen situations where the “slmgr.vbs -dlv” shows an unlicensed Retail version of Windows (i.e., the description of the version of Windows includes the text “RETAIL channel”) rather than a volume license as shown above.
By running “slmgr.vbs -dlv all”, you can review the status of many (all?) the different possible license options for this installation of Windows. Examine the VOLUME_KMSCLIENT channel entry, which on a working system should resemble the output in step 3 of the Gathering Information above. Instead, you may see, for example that the “VOLUME_KMSCLIENT channel” entry looks something like this:
Name: Windows(R) 7, Enterprise edition Description: Windows Operating System - Windows(R) 7, VOLUME_KMSCLIENT channel Activation ID: [long string] Application ID: [long string] Extended PID: Installation ID: This license is not in use. License Status: Unlicensed
To fix this, you need to install the generic product key for KMS volume activation ( again, not a secret. It’s available from MS  ). You can do this using the “enter a new product key” option from the RFM window, from the System properties/control panel, or from an elevated command prompt, like so:
# For Windows 10 and 11 Enterprise c:\> slmgr -ipk NPPR9-FWDCX-D2C8J-H872K-2YT43
Then force activation
If this still results in an error, please save the output of all these commands in a file and attach it to a footprint ticket.
 KMS service info at learn.microsoft.com.
 Volume license keys are listed at learn.microsoft.com. They activate against a license server (kms) that we enable with a private license key. No sensitive keys have been divulged in the creating of this document.