Activate Retail Office 2019 with just the product key and no microsoft account

Marianu 1 Reputation point

I am configuring 20 new W10 PCs for a lab. None of this is volume licensing.
I bought the licenses through retail channels. For each PC I purchased a copy of Office Home and Business 2019 (SKU-TSD-03341)
As expected I now have 20 Product keys. I intended to assign and enter a particular key into a particular PC.

However when I attempt to activate office I am prompted to enter an email address.
These are generic lab computers and not specific to a user. How can I activate office with just the key?
I did attempt to use the command

cscript.exe "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /inpkey:<product key>

I entered the product key in three ways:

  • all lowercase, no spaces, no dashes
  • all UPPERCASE, no spaces, no dashes
  • all UPPERCASE, no spaces, but with the dashes in the key.

However I received an error, " The Software Licensing Service reported that the product key is invalid."
As a test I validated the the product key worked because I used the Office activation GUI, entering an email address and it accepted the key.

So my question is: How can I activate office with just the key?
Is my syntax incorrect?
Is ospp.vbs the correct tool the activate a retail product key?

Office Management
Office Management
Office: A suite of Microsoft productivity software that supports common business tasks, including word processing, email, presentations, and data management and analysis.Management: The act or process of organizing, handling, directing or controlling something.
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  1. Cheong00 3,446 Reputation points

    You can't get away installing Office2013+ retail without a Microsoft account. Please contact Microsoft licensing support and see if they can help you transfer to VL license so you can manage with KMS.

    If they can't, most likely you'll have to create a central Microsoft account to host all the product keys, and then use that user as local admin to install Office in those machines. (This takes advantage of the fact that it won't use an "already activated" key on different computers) However you should still check with Microsoft licensing support and see if there is any problem (I vaguely remember there is a limit for number of users that can use Office on that PC this way but unable to confirm.)

    1 person found this answer helpful.
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  2. Emi Zhang-MSFT 13,081 Reputation points Microsoft Vendor

    Hi @Marianu ,
    As far as I know, for Office 2019 you need to redeem a new purchase with a Microsoft account, please follow these steps:

    Step 1: Go to or

    Step 2: Sign in with your Microsoft account, or create one if you don't have one. Be sure to remember this account so that you can install or reinstall Office later, without a product key.

    Important: If you're renewing your Microsoft 365 subscription, enter the Microsoft account that's associated with your subscription. I can't remember my Microsoft account.

    Step 3: Enter your product key, without hyphens, if prompted. If you don't see the option to enter your product key, it was entered for you automatically.

    Step 4: Follow the prompts to finish the redemption process.

    You can get the information from this article:

    Hope the information is helpful.

    If the response is helpful, please click "Accept Answer" and upvote it.
    Note: Please follow the steps in our documentation to enable e-mail notifications if you want to receive the related email notification for this thread.

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  3. Marianu 1 Reputation point

    I am hoping for someone to provide a better answer but since I had to get these computers set up and deployed here is what I did in the interim.

    I created an email account on my email server for each machine, so 20 accounts.
    The accounts were named after the unique machine name @mydomain

    Then when I entered the office 2019 product key into each computer I entered the new email account when prompted.

    This of course was quite cumbersome because I had to verify the new account which meant I needed to retrieve the code that microsoft emailed to each account.
    I had to temporarily forward the email from those new accounts to my account which was not good since I am just setting these up, not maintaining them.

    After that I had to solve a puzzle on each computer to prove I was a human. (The puzzle was not a simple "type the letters" question. It had between 15 to 20 question screens per computer asking me to select the graphics so that was about 350 screens total that I had to click through. I am not kidding!

    Finally after that I was forced to provide a phone number to allow the account to be created.
    When I didn't provide the phone number it sent me back to the beginning and I had to start from scratch again and reenter the product key and answer the questions again.

    Also Microsoft then complained that the same phone number was already in use so I had to come up with 10 unique phone numbers as it only allows the same phone number to be used twice. (It would not accept burner numbers... I tried that)

    So I had to contact 10 of my colleagues and tell that what I was doing and ask them to send me the code they received from a microsoft text message.
    Of course it is a weird thing to ask someone else to send me the code they received on their phone. very sus'...and what happens if any of them try to register with microsoft in the future and it complains that their number is already in use?

    Finally I had the 20 accounts created and I was able to get office 2019 running.

    This was unnecessary busy work and added an extra 30 minutes per machines multiplied by 20 machines.
    I did set up the machines concurrently so there was overlap but I still wasted at least three hours on this.

    Are there any other alternative?
    Is there a phone number I could have called that would have allowed me to key in the product key and provide me an activation code.
    I looked but I couldn't find that option for this version of office.

    I remember not very long ago when I just had to enter a retail product key to activate office.

    I am going to have to do this again in another month so I would like a better answer.


  4. Mike Angelo Gotladera 0 Reputation points

    This is also my problem. I have purchased 20 license keys and when i try to activate the Microsoft Office on our 20 PC, it asks for Microsoft Account. This are PC for a school charity so it's a hustle. We made 20 different gmail account to become 20 microsoft account for the sake of activation.

    Is there any way to activate microsoft office without the microsoft account ?

    Next month we'll be deploying 100. Wish us luck.

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