Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to activate Windows 8 Enterprise using a MAK key

I was surprised to find that the “Change Product Key” link in the System applet in Windows 8 had been removed, so I needed to find a different way to activate Windows 8 Enterprise on my work laptop. Thankfully, this TechNet article told me what to do.

Here is some background info on Windows licensing….

There are two ways to activate Windows 8 Enterprise using a MAK product key. The first is from the command prompt using the SLMGR.VBS script built into Windows, or the Service Licensing User Interface application (SLUI.EXE).

You may be asking, “What is a MAK key?” MAK stands for Multiple Activation Key and is one of two ways that Enterprise editions of Windows can be activated. MAK keys are available on the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center website for your organization provided that you are licensed to obtain such keys. The other way activation works is via a Key Management Server, or KMS server. A KMS server is an on-premise server that handles activating Windows on behalf of Microsoft. A computer must be re-activated within 30 days if you are using KMS activation, but is permanently activated when using a MAK key. Windows 8 Enterprise is designed so that it searches for a KMS server to activate the operating system. When a KMS server is unavailable, or if the computer has not reactivated against a KMS server within 30 days, a MAK key must be used to permanently activate Windows against Microsoft's licensing servers.

To activate Windows from the Command Prompt:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for "Command Prompt" or "CMD".
    2012-10-23_10h39_30
  3. Right-click Command Prompt and choose Run As Administrator.
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  4. Execute the following command to activate your MAK product key, where XXXXX is the product key:

    slmgr.vbs -ipk XXXXX
  5. Verify that Windows is now activated by opening the System applet.
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To activate Windows from the Service Licensing User Interface:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for "Command Prompt" or "CMD".
  3. Right-click Command Prompt and choose Run As Administrator.
    2012-10-23_10h40_30
  4. Execute the command "SLUI.EXE 3" to launch the SLUI application.
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  5. Type the MAK product key in the text box then click "Activate".
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I know there is going to be plenty of people looking for this information after October 26th! I hope this helps.

- Joe