Activate volume licensed versions of Office by using Active Directory

Applies to: Volume licensed versions of Office LTSC 2021, Office 2019, and Office 2016 (including Project and Visio)

Active Directory-based activation enables an organization to activate volume licensed versions of Office, including Project and Visio, on computers that are joined to an Active Directory domain. Active Directory-based activation is implemented as a role service on Windows Server and relies on Active Directory Domain Services to store an activation object. For more information, see Activate using Active Directory-based activation.

Requirements for using Active Directory-based activation

To use Active Directory-based activation, the volume licensed version of Office, Project, or Visio must have a Generic Volume License Key (GVLK) and must be installed on one of the following operating systems:

  • Windows 11
  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Server 2022
  • Windows Server 2019
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2012

Review the System requirements for Office to determine which operating systems are supported by the volume licensed version of Office, Project, or Visio that you're deploying to users in your organization. For example, Office LTSC Professional Plus 2021 is supported on Windows 11 and Windows 10 but isn't supported on Windows 8.1.

Configure Active Directory-based activation

To configure Active Directory-based activation, you must have Domain Administrator and Enterprise Administrator credentials.

  1. Sign in to a domain controller in Active Directory and use Server Manager to install the Volume Activation Services role.
  2. Sign in to the Volume Licensing Service Center and get your KMS key for your version of Office.
  3. Download the appropriate Office Volume License Pack from the Microsoft Download Center:
  4. Run the Office Volume License Pack executable file. This will install the Office Volume License Pack and opens the Volume Activation Tools wizard.
  5. Choose Next, and then on the Select Volume Activation Method page, choose Active Directory-Based Activation.
  6. On the Manage Activation Objects page, enter the KMS host key, which you got from the VLSC, and, optionally, give it a name. Then choose Next.
  7. On the Activate Product page, either activate the KMS host key online or by phone, and then follow the rest of the wizard instructions.
  8. When you're done, an Activation Succeeded page displays.

Additional information about Active Directory-based activation

  • Active Directory-based activation uses the same keys that are used by Key Management Service (KMS). However, Active Directory-based activation doesn't require a dedicated KMS host computer. The activation object is replicated across all the domain controllers in the Active Directory forest.
  • A successful Active Directory-based activation of Office lasts for up to 180 days. The Software Protection service running on the computer periodically attempts to re-activate Office by querying Active Directory for the activation object. If Active Directory can't be contacted, Office will try to activate by using a discoverable KMS host computer.