Microsoft Key Management Services

Note: This information is for campus desktop support technicians who are responsible for installing and activating Microsoft software volume licensing.


Information Support Services
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192-0042

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About KMS

Microsoft Key Management Services provides a way to activate volume license editions of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. It is designed to allow Volume Licensing 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.

Versions Supported 
Windows* Windows Server** Office
2008 R2
2012 R2

*  Requires purchase of VDA license for VDI environments.
**  Requires purchase of Windows Server CAL.

How KMS Works

When a supported version of Windows or Office is installed, the computer will attempt to discover the KMS Server on the network.This is accomplished by checking for an SRV record in the DNS Zone of the computer. If that record is present, the computer will contact the KMS server and automatically activate the license. KMS activations are valid for 180 days. The computer will periodically check in with the KMS server to renew the computer’s activation.

Wired Connection Required

The initial KMS activation process requires network connectivity to the campus network through a wired connection. Computers must also connect to the campus network at least once every 180 days to re-activate.

Alternate Activation Method

KMS is not a suitable activation method for computers that do not have network access or do not connect to the campus network at least once every 180 days. In these cases, there is an alternate activation method, Multiple Activation Key (MAK).


Set Up Instructions

  1. Set Up Automatic Discovery:  For automatic discovery to work, the KMS SRV record must be present in the DNS zone of the computer.
  2. Activate Manually:  In cases where automatic discovery doesn’t work, Windows and/or Office can be manually pointed to the KMS server.
  3. Problem Solving Steps:  If you are experiencing difficulties with the KMS activation process, follow these steps to troubleshoot and get help.