How to Extend Your Activation Grace Period on Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 (Activate Now Message)

Most of the content I use for webcasts and live events have virtual machines that have been created either by someone on my team or by someone at Microsoft corporate.  The virtual machines are not created with trial versions of the operating system but with fully licensed product.  For obvious reasons they are not activated, so when I first boot up I usually get a message saying the machine has to be activated within a few days.  Sometimes though, the machines have past the activation grace period and will not log on unless they are activated NOW!!  This can be somewhat annoying because most of the time I only need the machines for a demonstration the following week, maybe for the next month or so, and I don’t want to use one of my product keys for such a short term machine life.  So what can I do?

The first thing I do with machines that are requiring immediate activation is simply turn them off.  I then change my host machine date back to a date closer to when the virtual machines were originally created and boot them up one more time.  Now the virtual machine thinks my date is kosher and is within the activation grace period, and lets me logon.  That’s great but the date is wrong and I need to access the internet with the host as well as do my demos, and having a wrong date causes issues.  Never fear, one of the things we can do with Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 (actually this works with Windows Vista and Windows 7 as well), is re-arm the machine and extend the activation grace period another 60 days.

So How’s This Done?

Simple… all we need to do is run a script in the windowssystem32 folder called slmgr.vbs.  Check the steps below:

  1. Bring up a Command Prompt.
  2. Type slmgr.vbs –rearm, and press ENTER.
  3. Restart the computer.

You computer has now extended the evaluation period 60 days!!!  You can re-arm up to 3 times giving you an activation-free trial period of a total of 240 days!!

How Much Time Is Remaining in the Evaluation Period

You can find out by running the same script this time with different switch:

  1. Type slmgr.vbs -dli, and the current status of the evaluation period is displayed.  (the dli switch means – display license information)

If you want to find out what else you can do with the script type slmgr.vbs –? and you’ll get a full list and explanation of all the switches.


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