Recently I had to activate Windows 2016 server which was running on Hyper-V as a virtual machine. As usual, I tried the licence activation in the control panel. To take it further, I had to enter/change the license key. But unfortunately, when I clicked the ‘Change Product Key’ nothing happened. Nothing popped up to enter the license key. After doing research, I found out that this is a random issue in Windows 2016 and 2019 servers, even sometimes in Windows 10 too.
Few solutions suggested. Rebooting the Operating System, doing Windows update, check for OS corruptions and fixing them were some of the proposed solutions. But it may be not possible all the time when you face this similar situation in a production environment.
Here is the simple and easy method to activate Windows 2016 or 2019 servers when you are unable to change/update the Windows license key.
Change Product Key Not Working? Try in Command Prompt or PowerShell
Yes, that worked. Command prompt can do many administrative tasks when the GUI does not work.
In two ways, we can solve this issue. The first one will simply initiate the activation via the GUI interface. The second method is to completely activate Windows via the command prompt.
Open the command prompt as administrator and enter below command.
This will bring up the product key input dialogue box where you can change the key in Windows 2016/2019 and Windows 10. With the availability of an Internet connection, you should be able to activate the Windows now.
More useful slui keys
SLUI 1 – Will show the activation status window
SLUI 2 – Will show the activation window
SLUI 4 – Will call (Telephone) Microsoft to activate manually.
Each output may vary based on the Windows edition you have whether it is a home or business or enterprise and the type of activations such as online and KMS (Key Management Service) in-office network.
If the earlier way is still not working and you want to activate Windows by the command prompt (which is ideal in few cases if you’re going to activate a Windows server/PC remotely), then follow these steps.
Open the command prompt as administrator.
Let’s assume that the system is already having a trial or a wrong license. So, remove the existing key by below command.
Type below command to make sure that the old key removed from everywhere from Windows OS including registry.
Now type the correct activation key as below.
slmgr.vbs /ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx
We just entered the key, not activated yet.
Type below command to activate the Windows. Obviously, your computer should have a working internet for activation.
Now your Windows is activated.
To verify the activation, try this command. This will give basic information about Windows activation.
If you need more details, try this.
Remember, we are calling a specific Visual Basic (VB) script by slmgr.vbs. A dialogue box will pop up every time you enter the command.
The above commands will be useful in overcoming the issue when the change product key not working in latest Windows Operating Systems.