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License Key activation failure attempting to activate evaluation copy... RRS feed

  • Question

  • I downloaded WHS on Thanksgiving 2009 and installed it onto a HP ML350 with 4.5TB on 4 disks.  Loved the software and moved my entire family (7 of us) onto the system at home and tossed my previous file server on the curb.  My evaluation expires in either 11 days or 5 months + 11 days (there is a software bug to be addressed here later).

    Now I want to activate it.  It will not activate on line.  When I use "Telephone" and read off the 9 groups of digits the phone IVR states "Invalid Key--BY!" and hangs up on me.  When I call support they can't enter the 9 groups of digits to activate either. 

    So, being a VAR I asked my licensing people to buy a WHS license for me.  It arrived yesterday.  I typed in the key and I get a key failure.  I called support and they verified that I have a valid key for WHS in my hands.

    I don't want my WHS to lock up in 11 days or my kids won't be able to access thir homework for school.  Is there some reason it is so very dificult to give MS my money and activate my OS?

    Other bug...I opted to join the forum to extend my trial period by 6 months.  I get popups from the task bar telling my the trial expires in 11 days yet when I click on the server settings screen I have 5 months + 11 days remaining.  So, which is it?  When will my server lock up?

    Thank you all for your help in advance.

    Brad
    Wednesday, December 16, 2009 10:16 PM

Answers

  • The version of Windows Home Server you have is evaluation software. There is a time bomb built into the operating system which can't be circumvented and which will disable your server, whether you have activated it or not, in 120 days from initial installation. Without a product key (which Microsoft is not issuing for the evaluation software) you have 30 days from initial installation.

    In addition, product keys for fully licensed software are from a different series than the evaluation version, and will not work. Same for MSDN/Technet keys.

    The only way to get a fully licensed version is to reinstall with non-evaluation media. This process is covered in this FAQ. If your licensing people provided you with installation media, you should be all set...
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, December 17, 2009 2:25 PM
    Moderator
  • If Microsoft was still distributing eval license keys you could activate it for the remainder of the 120 days. But they aren't.

    As for what happens on day 31, what happens to any copy of Windows that isn't activated? It becomes pretty much unusable. Microsoft currently feels that 30 days is sufficient to get a taste of what Windows Home Server can do for your family, without being such a long period that you will commit significant data to, probably, a cobbled-together "frankenserver" (in the long run, such a server is usually not as reliable as one would like). I realize that you've done exactly that, but I'm going to have to quote from the eval download page:

    "6. You may now use the Evaluation Edition for 30 days."

    You can, if you need to extend your period a bit, use the installation media you burned to perform a server recovery. This will wipe the system partition (C:) and will refresh your activation period. Read the FAQ I linked previously for some discussion of this process (it's the same whether reinstalling eval software or fully licensed software).
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Marked as answer by Brad Hansen Friday, January 8, 2010 3:50 AM
    Thursday, December 17, 2009 6:08 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • The version of Windows Home Server you have is evaluation software. There is a time bomb built into the operating system which can't be circumvented and which will disable your server, whether you have activated it or not, in 120 days from initial installation. Without a product key (which Microsoft is not issuing for the evaluation software) you have 30 days from initial installation.

    In addition, product keys for fully licensed software are from a different series than the evaluation version, and will not work. Same for MSDN/Technet keys.

    The only way to get a fully licensed version is to reinstall with non-evaluation media. This process is covered in this FAQ. If your licensing people provided you with installation media, you should be all set...
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, December 17, 2009 2:25 PM
    Moderator
  • Ken,

    Not the answer I wanted to hear, but I appreciate your help very much.

    Any idea why the evaluation copy has all kinds of pop ups and warnings to activate the software over the phone and internet when it can't be activated?  I have never done an evaluation of MS software before.  I sure got a very strong impression that I could move into the server and activate it at anytime prior to 30 days.  I feel deceived.

    How about a message in the evaluation copy that states "You will never be able to activate this software", which more descriptive of the situation? 

    So, from day 31 to day 120 will I lose any features or functionality.  I am going to need until late January to get moved into another server.  This server is mission critical to my family operations (wife and 5 kids at home) so I have no choice but to move into a new server while I keep the current one "pinned up" and available.

    Again, I very much appreciate your help.

    Brad
    Thursday, December 17, 2009 4:33 PM
  • If Microsoft was still distributing eval license keys you could activate it for the remainder of the 120 days. But they aren't.

    As for what happens on day 31, what happens to any copy of Windows that isn't activated? It becomes pretty much unusable. Microsoft currently feels that 30 days is sufficient to get a taste of what Windows Home Server can do for your family, without being such a long period that you will commit significant data to, probably, a cobbled-together "frankenserver" (in the long run, such a server is usually not as reliable as one would like). I realize that you've done exactly that, but I'm going to have to quote from the eval download page:

    "6. You may now use the Evaluation Edition for 30 days."

    You can, if you need to extend your period a bit, use the installation media you burned to perform a server recovery. This will wipe the system partition (C:) and will refresh your activation period. Read the FAQ I linked previously for some discussion of this process (it's the same whether reinstalling eval software or fully licensed software).
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Marked as answer by Brad Hansen Friday, January 8, 2010 3:50 AM
    Thursday, December 17, 2009 6:08 PM
    Moderator