Windows Activation FAQ



What are the licensing terms and restrictions for Windows?

See Microsoft Windows:License Restrictions

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I am a student. How do I get/activate Windows?

Duke students are entitled to one free upgrade copy (total, across all devices) of Windows while enrolled.  Additional copies are not allowed.  These are not volume-licensed copies, and they come with product keys.  Once Windows is activated with a product key, it never needs to be re-activated.  Students may continue to use this copy of Windows after graduating.

Students may access the student version of Windows by visiting http://dukeoit.onthehub.com.

Once students order a personal download of Windows, they will have only thirty days to access the download and product key within their accounts.  We strongly recommend that students keep a backup copy of the download and also write down the product key in case it needs to be used later.  There is an extended access guarantee that can be purchased through the web store.  This is unnecessary to purchase, as OIT can help students retrieve their downloads and keys while enrolled, and the guarantee will not grant additional access after graduation since the store uses netID to authenticate.  We recommend that students never purchase this.

OIT can help currently-enrolled students retrieve their downloads and keys after the 30 days are up, but students that have left Duke will no longer have netIDs and therefore will no longer be able to access the store.  OIT cannot provide student-licensed software to individuals that are no longer students at Duke.

Students can order “hard copies” of Windows from the web store as well.  These are ordered directly from a 3rd-party distributor, and typically take about a month to arrive.

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I don’t have a product key. How do I activate my software?

The versions of windows offered through OIT are volume-activated products rather than retail products that come with product keys.

Volume Activation is a product activation technology that was first introduced with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. It is designed to allow volume license customers to automate the activation process in a way that is transparent to end users. Volume Activation applies to systems that are covered under a Volume Licensing program and is used strictly as a tool for activation and is in no way tied to license invoicing or billing.

Volume Activation provides two different models for activating: Key Management Service (KMS) and Multiple Activation Key (MAK). KMS allows organizations to activate systems within their own network, while MAK activates systems on a one-time basis, using Microsoft’s hosted activation services.  All Duke users should activate windows using the KMS.  MAK activation is reserved for special instances where a Duke user cannot connect to a Duke network regularly for an extended period of time.

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How do I activate with the KMS (Key Management Service), and how does it work?

KMS is the default method of activation for all Duke windows users,and should be used whenever possible and/or applicable.  Windows should activate automatically if connected to the Duke network or VPN.

How it works:

  • Once an installation of windows has completed, it will automatically search for the KMS server. Machines with DNS win.duke.edu, oit.duke.edu, and duke.edu should work with auto discovery. Other departments with third level DNS such as <dept>.duke.edu may need to add the entry for these users to be able to use auto discovery.
  • You can verify automatic activation by selecting Start – Right Clicking Computer – Selecting Properties and then scrolling down.
  • The Microsoft Key Management Server activates a client for a period of 180 days. Once a machine is activated, it will attempt to communicate with the same KMS every 7 days to renew it’s activation; resetting its license counter back to 180 days. If the machine is unable to connect to the KMS, it will keep trying to do so silently every 2 hours until it is successful.
  • If the machine hasn’t been able to reestablish communication to the KMS after 180 days, the machine will become unlicensed and go into a 30 day grace period, notifying the user of this change. If the machine is not activated against the KMS after the 30 day grace period, it will enter a reduced functionality mode until it is able to connect to it’s KMS or is changed to a MAK license key and activated.

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Windows did not activate automatically. How can I manually activate?

You will need to be on any Duke network or connected by VPN (virtual private network – see the section directly below).

  1. Run the command prompt as an administrator by selecting Start – All Programs – Accessories – then right clicking Command Prompt and selecting ‘Run as administrator’ (Windows Vista & 7) or On Windows 8, you can find the Command Prompt by hovering the mouse in the bottom-right of the screen, selecting search -> apps, and then either typing cmd or scrolling right under Windows System.  Right-click on command prompt and select Run as Administrator.
    Windows will prompt you for your permissions to run – Select continue
  2. At the Command Prompt Enter: “slmgr -skms kms-srv-01.oit.duke.edu”
  3. Wait for the pop-up box to indicate you have set your KMS Server.
  4. Enter: “slmgr -ato”‘
  5. Wait for pop-up box indicating that you have activated your machine.
  6. Verify activation by selecting Start – Right Clicking Computer – Selecting Properties and then scrolling down

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How do I connect to VPN to activate Windows when not on the Duke network?

The OIT Service Desk has prepared detailed instructions on using VPN (virtual private network) and they can be found here:

VPN Instructions & Overview

Once you are connected to VPN, either install Office if you haven’t done so to activate automatically during installation, or follow the manual activation instructions below.

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I am Duke faculty or staff. May I install windows on my home computer?

Duke’s agreement with Microsoft only permits the installation of these versions of Windows on faculty and staff members’ home computers for work at home purposes.  The installation must be performed by your department’s IT staff, or you must have written permission from them to install it on your home computer yourself for work purposes.

Duke does not offer retail licenses of the Windows OS.  Individuals should seek out standard retail outlets to purchase.

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How do I request a key for a MAK activation?

If you cannot easily communicate with the KMS, you may use or switch to the Multiple Activation Key (MAK) based license. MAK activates systems on a one-time basis, using Microsoft’s hosted activation services. The MAK-based license is best suited for machines that are not regularly connected to a Duke network (locally or with VPN), such as Duke-owned laptops primarily used off-site.

While not highly restricted, we ask that if you connect to any Duke network on a regular basis that you use the KMS method of activation. If you are having difficulty activating via KMS, please try to troubleshoot the error before resorting to the MAK.  We have a limited number of MAK activations available.  You may request a special MAK by e-mailing site@duke.edu.  Requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by OIT.  Students graduating or leaving Duke may not request a MAK to keep KMS-activated copies of windows activated once they leave Duke.

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I am getting error 0xC004F035

The KMS thinks that you are trying to install a volume-licensed version of Windows on a computer with no operating system present, which violates the license agreement.  The solution to this is to update the BIOS

This problem occurs if the KMS server does not find a valid Windows marker in the ACPI_SLIC table in the computer’s BIOS program. Either the marker is corrupt or not present. Updating the BIOS should fix this. To update the BIOS, go to the computer manufacturer’s website, most probably the driver download section, and download and install the latest update for the BIOS. The OIT Service desk should be able to help you with this. 919-684-2200.

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I am getting error 0xC004F039

This error may occur if you are attempting to activate using the manual KMS instructions above, and you are not connected to a Duke network either locally or with the VPN client.  Please make sure you are connected to a Duke network and try again.

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I am getting error 0xC004F06C

This issue may occur if the system time on the client computer differs from the system time on the KMS host.

Workaround

To work around this issue, change the date and time to the current date and time.  We recommend that you use a Network Time Protocol (NTP) time source or the Active Directory directory service to synchronize the time between computers. Time is coordinated between the KMS host and the client computer in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).  

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I am getting error 0xC004F074

This issue may occur if the system time on the client computer differs from the system time on the KMS host.

Workaround

To work around this issue, change the date and time to the current date and time.  We recommend that you use a Network Time Protocol (NTP) time source or the Active Directory directory service to synchronize the time between computers. Time is coordinated between the KMS host and the client computer in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).  

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I am getting error 0x80070005

This error occurs most commonly when the command prompt is not launched as an administrator.  You can do this by selecting Start – All Programs – Accessories – then right clicking Command Prompt and selecting ‘Run as administrator’

This error also may occur if you do not have the proper privileges on the computer or your network to activate windows.  Please make sure that you have the appropriate privileges on your computer and/or network (there may be group policies preventing you from activating, for example.  you could try putting it an a different OU and activating), and that you are right-clicking and launching the command line as an administrator.

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I am getting error 0xC004C008

This error can occur if you are trying to use volume-licensing on a retail version of Windows or vice-versa.  For example, if you are trying to activate Windows 7 Home Premium with a MAK.

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If you cannot find the answer to your question here, or if your issue cannot be resolved with the solutions below, please contact the OIT Service Desk at (919) 684-2200 or email site@duke.edu.