Server 2012 R2 without product key - what are the limitations

Frosty555 used Ask the Experts™
I have a bunch of virtual machines that I've set up running Windows Server 2012 R2. Since I'm spinning them up fairly quickly I haven't gotten around to licensing them yet. When I installed Windows I skipped entering a product key.

I will have a volume license key eventually, but these virtual machines have been running for the last month and a half without and key.

So far the only limitation I've encountered is a "Activate windows" watermark on the screen. The servers are running fine.

How long do I have before Windows must be activated? Will the servers start shutting down or rebooting or otherwise fail to operate at some point down the road? Can I leave them unactivated like this for a couple more months before licensing them with a volume license key?

What are the consequences of running a Windows server 2012 r2 machine for a long time without a product key?
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I believe you have 90 days before it is de-activated.
Most Valuable Expert 2015
As far as I know it is more than 90 days, more like double that. There are no limitations in functionality during that time. Once the trial period has expired, the OS will automatically shutdown or reboot at random times.
HuaMin ChenProblem resolver

It would lead to problem, if you do not activate it for few months. While it is also bothering, due to the message prompt to you.
IT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009
Once the trial time comes to expiration use a  slmgr -rearm command to prolong the trial period if you do not have the key yet.
I am using the trial version for tests very often and have not seen any limitation so far.

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