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Activating Windows 7, Windows 8 or Office 2013
This article explains steps to activate Microsoft Windows 7, Windows 8, or Office 2013 and troubleshooting steps regarding activation.
By default, Windows or Office will attempt to contact an Activation Server on a regular basis when it is in an un-activated state. Instances of Windows or Office that were acquired from the University of Chicago, with the exception of student media and WAH (Work at Home) licenses, will attempt to activate against a "discovered" KMS (Key Management Service) Server. It will do so by looking for a special record in the campus name servers. For activation to be successful, you must be on the campus network and have the campus name servers configured. This should be automatic for anyone using the university wireless networks or using DHCP on the wired network. If however, your copy of Windows or Office claims it is still not activated, it may be one of the following issues:
- Time Flies
- Your computer's clock needs to be accurate and no more than 5 minutes off. Often the clock may appear to be correct but the timezone is incorrectly set. Correcting this setting will resolve activation failures relating to time.
- If you are on your home network or some commercial network, like a coffee house or sandwich shop, the activation will fail. We limit who can activate windows licenses by those who can access the campus network. You can still activate your copy of Windows if you log onto cVPN. cVPN will give you access to campus services and resources from any location, including activation of Windows and Office. See here for how to install cVPN for Windows 8 and Windows 7.
- Did you get it from the University?
- You may not have a University licensed version of Windows or Office. This will prevent you from activating against the University's KMS Server completely. You'll have to refer to your computer manufacturer or whoever you obtained the Windows or Office installation from. You can also install a University licensed version if desired.
- See the next section if activation does not work after eliminating the issues listed above.
This portion is intended for advanced users or IT Professionals.
- Usually, if the problem falls under "Other", it's an issue with auto-discovery. The largest contributor to this problem is Connection-specific DNS Suffix. This is a setting on your network card and it should be uchicago.edu. This is normally set automatically when on the University wireless network or using an auto-configured connection on the wired network (DHCP). You can check this setting in the properties of your primary network connection.
- Bring up the Windows 8 Charms Menu on the right hand side and select Settings. For Windows 7, click the start button and then select control panel on the right hand column of the menu.
- Select Control Panel
- In the resulting window, click View network status and tasks under Network and Internet.
- In the next window, click Change adapter settings on the left hand side.
- In the following window, select your active network adapter. This is the one that is not greyed out or has a red X next to it. If you have two adapters active, such as wireless and wired (Ethernet or Local Area Connection), right-click on the wired connection and select Properties. In the image below that is the Ethernet connection. (Also Known As Local Area Connection).
- In the following properties window, double-click Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4). You may also click it once and then click the Properties button when it's no longer gray.
- In the following window, take note of whether Use the following IP... or Use the following DNS... are enabled or not. If they are, settings may need to be changedin the next step. Select the Advanced button.
- In the following window, check that DNS suffix for this connection is set to uchicago.edu. If it is not, change it to uchicago.edu or add it if the field is empty.
- Restart your computer and try to activate Windows or Office. If it works, activation is complete. If it doesn't, continue on or enlist the aid of a local IT Help Desk or the IT Services Service Desk.
These steps are for IT Professionals and Advanced Power Users.
This section assumes you've already tried making the changes suggested prior to this section.
- Start a Command Window as Administrator
- Look for the KMS record you need in DNS
- Manual activation of Windows 7 or 8 and troubleshooting commands
- Manual activation of Office 2013 and troubleshooting commands
- Bring up the Windows 8 Charms Menu on the right-hand side and select Search. For Windows 7, click the Start Menu and use the Search function there.
- Search for cmd.
- Select cmd, then in the menu that appears below, select Run as Administrator. For Windows 7, right-click on cmd and click Run as Administrator.
- If you are prompted with the following window, Click Yes.
Do Start Command Shell as Administrator first
If you don't use uchicago.edu, bsd.uchicago.edu, or chicagobooth.edu as the "Connection-specific DNS Suffix", check for the existence of the record Windows is looking for in your DNS domain currently set on the network adapter.
At the prompt, type nslookup, press enter, then type set type=any. Select enter again, and finally type _vlmcs._tcp.X.uchicago.edu and click enter. ( X is the subdomain you have configured on your network adapter.) If you get results similar to what is shown in the image below, then auto-discovery should work. Go to the next step. If you don't however, and you must have your adapter configured with your custom subdomain, contact IT Services Service Desk at 2-5800.
Do Start Command Shell as Administrator first.
You should only do this when troubleshooting activation issues! DO NOT activate computers in this fashion!
Attempt to manually activate Windows by manually setting the KMS server by typing cscript.exe slmgr.vbs /skms plank.uchicago.edu:1688 at the command prompt and click enter. You should see that the command was successful. See the top of the image below.
Type cscript.exe slmgr.vbs /ato and click enter. You should see that the computer activated successfully. See the second command in the image below.
If you do NOT see a successful activation message, type the following command: cscript.exe slmgr.vbs /dlv and press enter. Contact IT Services at the Service Desk via 2-5800 or firstname.lastname@example.org and provide them the output of that command as well as the error from the activation command. The image below shows the normal results of the command when the computer is activated.
Begin in Start Command Shell as Administrator mode.
Attempt to manually set the KMS server by typing cd "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15" at the prompt and select enter. Next type C:\Windows\System32\cscript.exe ospp.vbs /sethst:plank.uchicago.edu and select enter. This will have set the server manually. You should see that the command was successful. See the top of the image below.
Next type C:\Windows\System32\cscript.exe ospp.vbs /act and select enter. You should see that Office activated successfully. See the second command in the image below.
If you do NOT see a successful activation message, type the following command C:\Windows\System32\cscript.exe ospp.vbs /dstatus and hit enter. Contact IT Services at the Service Desk via 2-5800 or email@example.com and provide them the output of that command as well as the error from the activation command. The image below shows the normal results of the command when Office is activated.