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Office of Information Technology

Microsoft Key Management Service (KMS)

Activating Software Using KMS



Key Management Service (KMS) licensing allows specific versions of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft office clients to be activated under American University's licensing agreement with Microsoft Corporation. KMS is Microsoft's solution to better manage and disperse our software licenses to only those individuals covered under our campus license agreement.

With KMS, there is no longer a need to enter a product key when installing newer versions of Windows or Office on a Windows-based computer, as long as the computer is connected to the AU network. During the installation of a KMS compatible product, the software should activate automatically as long as it can communicate with the KMS server (in some OS installation cases, you must still launch the license wizard, leave the license key fields blank, and choose next). No additional steps are necessary.

Please note: KMS activated software attempts to check in with the KMS server around once a week. Once the software successfully connects to the KMS server, it is activated for 180 days (around 6 months). This will be seamless if you are connected to the AU network, but off campus users will need to log into the VPN every so often to complete this check in process. If 180 days pass without the software being able to connect to the KMS server, the software will enter a 30 day grace period and display a warning message that it needs to be activated.

Activating Software From Off Campus

If you are using the software from off-campus, you will need to be logged into the AU Virtual Private Network (VPN) to activate the software. Our KMS server is only accessible on the AU network, and when you are logged in to the VPN, your computer is on the AU network.

You can find instructions on logging into the VPN online at:

When you connect to the VPN, your software should activate automatically. It will then be activated for 180 days once again. 

Manually Activating Software

Occasionally, your software may run into trouble connecting to the KMS server. In these instances, here are some steps that you can run to try and have your software manually connect to the KMS server:

  1. Make sure your computer is connected to the AU network. Off campus users should be connected to the VPN.
  2. Click on the START menu, then click ALL PROGRAMS, then ACCESSORIES.
  3. Right click on COMMAND PROMPT and choose RUN AS ADMINISTRATOR from the menu.
    (Windows 8 users can access the command prompt by typing cmd from the Start screen, and then choosing COMMAND PROMPT from the results)

  4. Type C: and press ENTER.
  5. For Office 2016:

    Type CD Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16
    and press ENTER.

    For Office 2013:

    Type CD Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15
    and press ENTER.

  6. Type the following:
    cscript ospp.vbs /
    and press ENTER.
  7. Type the following:
    cscript ospp.vbs /act
    and press ENTER.
  8. You should see a message stating that the product was activated successfully. You may now exit the command prompt window as your software should be activated.

KMS Enabled Products at AU

Our KMS activation key is currently authorized to license the following versions of Microsoft Windows and Office:

  • MS Office 2016 Professional Plus (for AU Faculty and Staff only)
  • MS Office 2013 Professional Plus (for AU Faculty and Staff only)
  • Windows 10 and Windows 7 clients (for AU Faculty and Staff only)
  • Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008R2 (for AU Technical Team members only)

Please contact the IT Help Desk at 202-885-2550,, or AskAmericanUHelp for additional information.