In this article, we will discuss the basics of MS Office KMS activation (this guide applies to the volume editions of Office 2021, 2019, and 2016, including Project and Visio). This takes place after you have to install and activate the KMS (Key Management Service) host on Windows Server 2022/2019/2016/2012 R2.
A corporate KMS server makes it easy to activate volume editions of Microsoft products (such as Windows and Office) in an internal or isolated enterprise network without the need to provide direct access to Microsoft’s Internet activation servers for clients, and without using phone activation.
Update. In October 2021, Microsoft released the new non-subscription version of Office LTSC 2021 (along with Windows 11). The LTSC version of Office 2021 is for customers who don’t want to get the Microsoft 365 subscription-based version of Office. The LTSC version is also for organizations with computers that don’t want to receive feature upgrades or connect to the Internet. Enterprise customers can begin deploying the new Office 2021 LTSC on their computers side by side with previous versions of Office. To activate Office 2021 LTSC Volume License version, you can add support for the new version of Office to your KMS activation host.
Configure a KMS Host Server to Activate MS Office 2021, 2019, and 2016
Note. This guide applies only for Microsoft Office 2021/2019/2016 under volume license excluding Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise (ex- Office 365 ProPlus). This MS Office version is subscription-based and can be activated online only.
Microsoft Office KMS Server Requirements
To activate the Volume License Office version (Project or Visio), you must have a configured KMS host.
Make sure the computer that is going to be used as a KMS server meets the requirements on the supported Operating System versions:
- MS Office 2021 — Windows 10, Windows 11, Windows Server 2016/2019/2022;
- MS Office 2019 — Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019;
- Microsoft Office 2016 — additionally supports Windows 7 SP1 (with the KB2757817 installed), and Windows Server 2008 R2 (with the KB2757817).
When deploying a specific volume version of Office, you need to consider the date when Microsoft plans to end support:
- Office 2013 — Apr 11, 2023;
- Office 2016 and Office 2019 — Oct 14, 2025;
- Office 2021 LTSC — Oct 13, 2026 (Microsoft will support Office LTSC 2021 in accordance with its Fixed Lifecycle Policy, which offers five years of mainstream support without extended support).
Office KMS and Windows KMS services can run on the same server or a workstation with the Volume Activation Services role installed.
You can install the Volume Activation Service on Windows Server using Server Manager (Add roles and Features > Server Role > Volume Activation Services > Next > Next > Finish) or by using the following PowerShell command:
Install-WindowsFeature -Name VolumeActivation -IncludeAllSubFeature
To make sure the VolumeActivation role is installed, run the following command and check the Install State:
get-WindowsFeature -Name VolumeActivation
First, find and copy your MS Office 2016 or Office 2019 KMS host key in the personal zone on Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) website.
Install Office Volume License Pack
Now download the Volume License Pack for your Office version and install it on the KMS host.
The Microsoft Office Volume License Pack is an executable file that installs all the necessary license files on the KMS server to activate a specific Office version, including Visio and Project, and recognizes the KMS host key. You must download and install the version of the Office Volume License Pack depending on the version of Office you are planning to use, and for which you received the KMS Host Key from the VLSC.
To activate Microsoft Office, you need to install an appropriate Office Volume License Pack, and KMS host key for each MS Office version you want to use (unlike Windows KMS client activation, where the newest KMS Host key can activate older versions of Windows).
For example, you can’t activate Office 2013 on a KMS server with only the KMS Host key for Office 2019 installed. In this case, you need to install two versions of the Volume License Pack and 2 Office KMS Host keys on the KMS server.
You can download the latest Office Volume License Pack from the Microsoft Download Center using the following links:
- Microsoft Office LTSC 2021 Volume License Pack
- Microsoft Office 2019 Volume License Pack
- Microsoft Office 2016 Volume License Pack
- Microsoft Office 2013 Volume License Pack
Download the x86 or x64 version of Office Volume Licensing, depending on the bitness of the Windows on the host.
You need to run the downloaded file (office2016volumelicensepack_4324-1002_en-us_x64.exe, office2019volumelicensepack_x64.exe, or Office2021VolumeLicensePack_x64.exe) as an administrator on your KMS server. The installer contains new KMS host license files. These license files allow your KMS host service to recognize KMS Host keys for Office, Project, and Visio. The activation files update script will be launched.
During the installation, the Volume Activation Tool windows will appear. You can choose one of the following activation methods: using the Active Directory (ADBA activation), or with the KMS host.
There are two types of MS Office activation:
- Direct activation with KMS server;
- The Active Directory-Based Activation (ADBA) that requires an Active Directory domain with Windows 2012 schema version (you need to check if you need to update Active Directory schema), and with at least Windows Server 2012 as a domain controller.
MS Office KMS Activation Method
- If you are going to use the direct KMS activation, choose the Key Management service, set your KMS server FQDN name, and install the KMS Host Key obtained earlier. You can install the KMS host key later by using the following command:
slmgr -ipk <Office-2019-KMS-Host-Key>)
- Select the activation method by either using a phone or online. During the initial stage, provide a direct Internet connection on your server. Or you should activate your KMS server by phone. To run the Windows phone activation wizard run the command:
- After you activated your Office KMS server, the window with your current KMS configuration will appear;
- There must appear Name:Office 16, VOLUME_KMS_channel. Name:Office 19, Office19KMSHost2019VL_KMS_Host, or Name:Office 21, VOLUME_KMSCLIEN_channel in the list of products with Licensed status;
- Close the Volume Activation Tools. After this Software Protection Service will be restarted with a new configuration.
By default, the Software Protection Service that performs the KMS activation listens on TCP port 1688. You can enable an incoming Windows Defender firewall rules rule that allows clients to access the KMS server using the PowerShell command:
Enable-NetFirewallRule -Name SPPSVC-In-TCP
In this case, a new SRV _VLMCS._TCP_domainname record is created in your forward lookup DNS zone on the domain controller. It allows clients to automatically discover your KMS server in the domain. You can find the KMS server in the current Active Directory domain using the nslookup command:
nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp
Press Enter key in the Volume License Pack Install console.
You can check KMS server connectivity from a client device with MS Office installed. Do it using the PowerShell, run the following command:
Test-NetConnection your-kms-server-name –Port 1688
In the case of the “TcpTestSucceeded: True” response, you can point your computer to this KMS server.
The Active Directory-Based Activation for MS Office 2021/2019/2016
If you want to use Active Directory-Based Activation, you need to choose this option in your Volume Activation Tools wizard (you can use the ADBA activation for the clients running Windows 11/10/8.1 or Windows Server 2012/2012 R2/2016/2019/2022).
Then you need to specify the KMS host key (CSVLK) and enter the display name for a new activation object (optional).
Your remaining task is to activate the KMS host.
After that, close the VAT windows, and press Enter. To obtain information only about the Office KMS host key that was installed, you need to execute a script with the specific Activation ID for your version of Office (the corresponding identifier could be seen earlier in the final stage of the Volume Activation Tools utility):
For Office 2016:
slmgr.vbs /dlv 98ebfe73-2084-4c97-932c-c0cd1643bea7
For Office 2019:
slmgr.vbs /dlv 70512334-47B4-44DB-A233-BE5EA33B914C
For Office 2021 LTSC:
slmgr.vbs /dlv 7F3B983-7C53-4D45-ABC6-BCD91E2DD90A
To check if your KMS host is ready to activate MS Office clients in your network, run the command:
slmgr.vbs /dli all
You can see some useful information about your KMS host here:
Name: Office 19, Office19KMSHost2019VL_KMS_Host
Description: Office 19. Volume KMS channel
License Status: Licensed
This block says that Office 2019 Volume License Pack is installed and activated on the host.
- Current count — the number of clients activated on this KMS host;
- Listening port — the default 1688 TCP port is used;
- DNS publishing — automatic publication of the srv _vlmcs._tcp record in DNS is enabled;
- Total requests received — how many clients have tried to connect to this KMS host in the last 30 days.
Manual KMS Activation of Office 2021/2019/2016 using Ospp.vbs
To activate the Office volume copy on the client’s computer, you can use the built-in ospp.vbs VBScript file (Office Client Software License Management Tool). Run these commands in Command Prompt as administrator:
- For Office 2016:
CD “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16”
If you are using the 32-bit MS Office version installed on 64-bit Windows, you need to use this command:
CD “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16” )
- For Office 2019:
CD “c:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office19”
CD “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office19” )
- For Office 2021 LTSC:
CD “c:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office21”
- Specify the KMS server name. In this case, the KMS server address will be stored in the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Office\SoftwareProtectionPlatform\KeyManagementServiceName, and you can deploy this REG_SZ parameter via GPO:
cscript ospp.vbs /sethst:kms01.yourdomain.com
- You can change the KMS server connection port on the client using the command (REG_SZ parameter in the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Office\SoftwareProtectionPlatform\KeyManagementServicePort):
cscript ospp.vbs /setprt:1688
- Activate your Office copy on the KMS server:
cscript ospp.vbs /act
- You can get the current status of activation using this command:
cscript ospp.vbs /dstatusall
For Office 2016:
License NAME: Office 16, Office16ProPlusVL_KMS_Client edition
License DESCRIPTION: Office 16, VOLUME_KMSCLIENT channel
Product activation successfully
For Office 2019:
License NAME: Office 19, Office19KMSHost2019VL_KMS_Host edition
License DESCRIPTION: Office 19, VOLUME_KMS channel
Product activation successfully
For Office 2021 LTSC:
License NAME: Office 21, Office21KMSHost21VL_KMS_Host edition
License DESCRIPTION: Office 21, VOLUME_KMS_CLIENT channel
To activate your devices with the Office 2019/2016 installed on the KMS server, there must be at least 5 clients’ requests within the last 30 days (activation threshold). If there are not enough activation requests from clients on the KMS server (you did not reach a minimum number of copies to get the licensing working), an error will appear:
ERROR CODE: 0xC004F038
ERROR DESCRIPTION: The Software Licensing Service reported that the product could not be activated. The count reported by your Key Management Service (KMS) is insufficient. Please contact your system administrator.
The activation period is 180 days. The reactivation period is 7 days after which the activation period is being reset back to 180 days. If your computer cannot connect to the KMS server within 180 days, your copy of Office switches to 30-day evaluation mode.
You can display the activation history on the client:
cscript ospp.vbs /dhistorykms
To manage Office activation with current user credentials on remote computers, you can use the following command:
cscript ospp.vbs /act remotepc2
If during client activation you are facing an error 0xC004F074, this is a known problem that does not yet have a normal solution except for re-installing KMS on Windows Server 2012 R2 or creating a separate KMS for Office 2016 only.
Office 2021/2019/2016: Generic Volume License Keys for KMS and ADBA Activation
By default, volume licensed versions of Office 2021, 2019, and Office 2016 are preinstalled with the Generic Volume License Keys (GVLK). GVLKs allow the installed Office copy to automatically discover and activate Office on the KMS host by using a special VLSC record in DNS.
Meanwhile, after you installed the KMS host or created the ADBA object, the installed MS Office copy on the computer is activating automatically (as long as the computer has a GVLK installed, and the computer is joined to the Active Directory domain). Therefore, the GVLK key is not required usually (they are preinstalled in all Office 2021/2019/2016 volume license products).
Note. You can install Office 2019 or 2021 LTSC only on Windows 10/11 and Windows Server 2016/2019/2022.
Optionally, the Office product key can be changed to KMS from the command prompt (you can use such a command when moving from MAK to KMS channel and vice-versa):
cscript ospp.vbs /inpkey:xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx
You can get an up-to-date GVLK list for KMS activation of Office 2021, 2019, and 2016 (including Office Professional Plus/Standard, Project Professional/Standard, Visio Pro/Standard, Access, Excel, Outlook, Word, Skype for Business) using the link.
Please note that these license keys can’t be used to activate personal/home editions of MS Office.