KMS Activation for Windows Server 2016

Hi everyone.  Graeme Bray here with a quick article around KMS and Server 2016.  KMS and Server 2016 you say?  Shouldn’t I be using Active Directory Based Activation?  Yes, you should, but in case you are not, let’s go over the pre-requisites to activate Windows Server 2016 via KMS.

First, lets review the pre-requisite updates that must be installed.

If your KMS host is running Windows Server 2012, you need two updates:

* https://support.microsoft.com/kb/3058168

o Direct Download: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=47649

* https://support.microsoft.com/kb/3172615

o Direct Download: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=53316

If your KMS host is running Windows Server 2012 R2, you need two updates:

* https://support.microsoft.com/kb/3058168

o Direct Download: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=47622

* https://support.microsoft.com/kb/3172614

o Direct Download: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=53333

If your KMS host is running Windows Server 2008 R2:

* There is no update to allow Windows Server 2008 R2 to activate Windows Server 2016.  Windows Server 2008 R2 is in extended support.  During this phase, we only release security updates and do not release updates that add additional functionality.

Lets review what these updates add:

* The first update allows the activation of Windows 10 from Windows 8, 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2 based systems.

* The second is an update rollup that allows KMS to activate Windows 10 1607 long-term servicing branch (LTSB) systems and Windows Server 2016 clients.

KMS License Key

After that, all you need to do is add your KMS License Key from the Volume License site.

But wait, how do I find my KMS License Key?!  Have no fear, there is a KB article (and detailed steps) for you!

Retrieve KMS License Key from the VLSC for Windows Server 2016.

To resolve this problem, follow these steps:

1. Log on to the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).

2. Click License.

3. Click Relationship Summary.

4. Click License ID of your current Active License.

5. After the page loads, click Product Keys.

6. In the list of keys, locate Windows Srv 2016 DataCtr/Std KMS

7. Install this key on the KMS host.
https://support.microsoft.com/kb/3086418

Client Licensing

After your KMS host is activated, use the Client Setup Keys to activate your shiny new Windows Server 2016 hosts.

https://technet.microsoft.com/library/jj612867.aspx

What is a client setup key you ask?  A CSVLK is the key that is installed, by default, on your Volume License media that you pulled down day 1.  If you are using volume license media, no key change is required.

If you are converting an install from Retail, MSDN, etc, you will want to use the client setup key to convert to a Volume License key to allow activation.

Active Directory Based Activation

Graeme, this sure seems like a lot of work to get KMS working for Windows Server 2016.  Is there a better way to do this?

The recommendation at this point is to leave your existing KMS system alone.  Whether it is running on Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, or Windows Server 2012 R2, continue to service the machine via security and quality updates.  Allow your KMS system to activate down-level operating systems and Office installs (Windows 7, Windows Server 2008/2008 R2, and Office 2010).  Utilize Active Directory Based Activation (ADBA) for all new clients (Windows 8, 8.1, Windows Server 2012, 2012 R2, 2016, Windows 10, Office 2013, and Office 2016).

Active Directory Based Activation provides several key benefits:

1. Activation is near instantaneous when a system is brought online.  As soon as the system talks to Active Directory, the system is activated.

2. One less server to maintain and update.  Once all downlevel (2008 R2 & prior) systems are migrated, you can remove your KMS host.

3. AD-Based activation is forest wide.  KMS hosts require additional configuration to support multiple domains.

Have more questions?

Q: Where can I get even more details around KMS and AD Based Activation?

A: Refer to these other posts by one of my colleagues, Charity Shelbourne.

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/askpfeplat/2013/02/04/active-directory-based-activation-vs-key-management-services/ https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/askpfeplat/2015/11/09/kms-migration-from-2008-r2-to-windows-server-2012-r2-and-kms-activation-known-issues/

Q: Can Microsoft help me with this process?

A: Absolutely!  Reach out to your TAM and you can engage Premier Field Engineering for assistance.

Thanks for reading!

Graeme “Keeping KMS easy” Bray