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2008 R2 KMS server and how to activate 2012 R2 and 8 8.1 Clients

Posted on 2014-12-23
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Last Modified: 2014-12-31
We are currently running a server 2008 R2 KMS server that is being used to activate our Windows 7 and Server 2008/2008 R2 devices.

We are beginning to deploy more 2012 R2 servers and would like to use KMS to activate these as well. I have been doing a little bit of research online and it looks like we need to install a hotfix so 2008 R2 can activate new OS's.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2885698

After I install the hotfix is it as simple a task as running the

SLMGR.VBS /ipk {new 2012 R2 datacenter KMS host key}

From what I have seen it looks like the new KMS keys will work to activate down level clients. I just want to make sure this is the case before I replace the current key and mess up 2500 laptops and servers.

Thanks
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Question by:Joseph Daly
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by:Cliff Galiher
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Keep in mind that KMS has minimum counts before it'll activate machines. 8 clients is below that 25 minimum. If you are introducing 2012 R2 as a DC, I'd recommend using AD activation instead. AD activation doesn't activate older servers and clients, but your existing KMS server can continue to do that, and AD activation will handle the new servers and clients. It doesn't require an activation service like KMS, and doesn't have minimum counts before it'll activate either. This is the preferred activation method from Microsoft moving forward. In fact, you won't normally even see KMS keys in VLSC anymore. That requires sending a special request to get them.
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by:Joseph Daly
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We are still on 2008 r2 Dcs so as activation probably isn't an option until further down the line.

Still looking for the proper steps to upgrade kms for 2012.
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by:Cliff Galiher
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Install this update on your KMS server then follow the usual guidance to install and activate a new KMS key for 2012.

https://support.microsoft.com/kb/2691586
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by:Cliff Galiher
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As always, have a backup. I'd also use VAMT periodically for a month or two (weekly or so) to audit existing machines and make sure they are activating against the new server.
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by:Joseph Daly
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How would I go about using VAMT to verify this? Cant I just run slmgr.vbs /dlv and see the KMS information at the bottom of the popup box?

Ive never used VAMT before so curious to hear.

Thanks
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Cliff Galiher earned 500 total points
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slmgr on the server will give you counts but not machine specifics. And running it on each client would work, but would be time consuming.  VAMT has a GUI tool that lets you scan the network and it can remotely query every machine to get its status. It'll report if it is activated, in a grace period, or out of compliance. Very handy. Since KMS clients re-activate periodically, you'll want to run that query regularly to watch for machines switching from an activated status (which they'll be in from the old KMS service) to a grace period status (if there is a problem contacting the KMS service after the change.)  Since not all machines will attempt to reactivate at the same time, and their existing activation doesn't necessarily expire at the same time you are making the change, there is a window of time where problems could go unnoticed.  Hence the reason to query regularly.  

The upshot is that even if a machine falls from activated to the grace-period window, the users will not notice an issue. It is only if the grace period is also allowed to expire that users will experience an issue. So running VAMT regularly for a month or two will let you spot problems before they impact users.  Of course ideally no problems will occur. But better safe than sorry.

While you've never used VAMT before, it is a very straightforward GUI. I don't think you'll have any issues figuring it out. Even with a large number of clients, sorting by status is simple, and the data is exportable for further refining in Excel or similar if desired. For any volume activation of size, it is a worthwhile investment in knowledge to have.
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