Problem with Windows server license services

Paco Gaspar 91 Reputation points


I administer an active directory for a company. In this active directory there are 39 servers, 10 of them domain controllers. All of them are Windows 2016 Standard Edition.

The scenario developed as follow: When I arrive the project, there was an active directory already configured. I had to create from scratch this new one, and then migrate some servers and client computers. Whenever I installed a new server, the GUI activation process didn't work, so I had to activate them with the commands SLMGR /IPK: Serial number and SLMGR /ATO.

The customer provided me the keys to activate the servers. There were some migrated servers which was not licensed, so I licensed every one with the commands. When a server said that no more activation were allowed with that key, I used another key from the pool the customer provided me.

Since an undetermined point in time, when I joined a server to the domain and entered the activation gui to see the activation and try the gui (always failed but I always tried first) the gui showed that the server was already activated through activation services in my organization. But nobody has installed a KMS server nor the active directory based volume license services.

Today, I have joined 6 more servers to the domain, and 5 of them appear activated with that same message, but 6th tells to activate it. When I run the command slmgr /ato, I get an error telling that license service couldn't activate the server: the number returned from activation services (KMS) is not enough.

Though there is no kms server nor active directory based activation services, in DNS there are four SVR records for _VLMCS, pointing to 4 domain controllers. But as I havent installed de services, I don't have an administration console to see what happens.

Looking for documentation, I have found a Microsoft document telling that if you run slmgr /ipk and enter a KMS key, you install the KMS service without intention. So the only thing I can imagine that can happened is that in those 4 domain controllers I used a KMS Key, and that key only install the service in domain controllers or all other servers were activated with other keys.

Anyway, the thing is that I cannot activate the new server, and I don't know how to manage this situation. One thing I can do is proceed as that document states to remove the service in every one of the 4 servers, and remove the SVR records, and, with the list of keys I have, activate again the servers one by one. Other thing I can do is remove the service and then install the Active directory volume activation services, and try to identify the valid keys to provide the services. I don't know which is better, but I just know I cannot have the environment uncontrolled like this.

Any help would be appreciated.

Windows Server 2016
Windows Server 2016
A Microsoft server operating system that supports enterprise-level management updated to data storage.
2,429 questions
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Accepted answer
  1. Sunny Qi 10,921 Reputation points Microsoft Vendor


    Thanks for posting in Q&A platform.

    Please understand, due to the environment limitation, it is hard for us to reproduce and analyze this behavior in our lab. If this issue is urgent, I would also suggest you contact Microsoft Customer Support and Services where more in-depth investigation can be done so that you would get a more satisfying explanation and solution to this issue.

    You may find phone number for your region accordingly from the link below:

    Best Regards,


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