Setting up a KMS Server – Windows Server 2012R2

What is a KMS? Microsoft’s KMS allows you to automate license activation for Windows servers and/or applications. In my case, I am using KMS for Windows 2012R2 license activation.  (Oh, KMS stands for Key Management Server) The setup is simple, it took me no more than 15 minutes. Below are the steps I took to set this up. Some pieces of information, I decided to dedicate a server for KMS. Also, when adding the Windows server key, double check and ensure you are using a valid Volume License key, and a KMS key — not MAK! (Yes, there is a difference)

For starters I am going to assume you already made note of the license key from your Microsoft Volume License Servicing Center portal.

As mentioned, I decided to stand up a server dedicated for KMS.

From the Windows Server Manager, install the “Volume Activation Services” role either via the GUI, or via PowerShell. If via PowerShell, here is that command, “Install-WindowsFeature -Name VolumeActivation -IncludeAllSubFeature

Once the role has been installed, launch the Volume Activation Tool console, and essentially next, next, finish!

  • Browse/Select the server that will be hosting the KMS (service):


  • Paste in your KMS Host/License Key:



  • Choose “Active online



Here, you have some options, how often would you like KMS to check-in, how often would like KMS to apply the key, etc. I left my settings at default, but (assuming) your environment is domain based, check mark Domain for KMS firewall exceptions. Also, by default, KMS listens on TCP port 1688.



And that is is! Now your existing/new Windows 2012R2 servers will have their licence automatically activated within 2 hours.

For more information on Microsoft’s Key Management Server (KMS), please visit the following link HERE.



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