KMS Overview

What Is KMS?

KMS stands for Key Management Service. Some Microsoft products such as Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 series, Windows Server 2008 series and Windows Server 2012 series  require activation. KMS is the default method to activate Windows, since the release of Microsoft Vista and Windows Server 2008. The KMS service allows Microsoft software purchased under a volume license agreement to be activated locally on campus without having to contact Microsoft.

NCSU’s KMS Service

OIT provides KMS services for campus. The KMS service is available to any non-Resnet computer on the campus network. It is not available outside the campus network unless using VPN.

Locating The KMS Service

There are 2 ways in which KMS clients (Windows 8.1 workstations, for example) can locate a KMS service:

  • Auto Discovery: Client uses DNS to automatically locate the KMS service.
  • Direct Registration: KMS service host and port are set in the registry. This can be done using a VBS script that is installed with Vista.


See the Troubleshooting KMS Activation page for more information.