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How to Fix Activation Error 0xC004F074 in Windows 8 and 8.1?

activation error 0xC004F074

After the release of Windows 8,then 8.1, more users are switching to the new OS. One of the early reported problems is the issues related to activation error 0xC004F074. After installing, you are supposed to activate windows. But some users have reported an error code 0xC004F074 during the time of activation.

Error 0xC004F074
This error code appears only during the time of activation when the Software Licensing Service reports that it cannot activate the product key since the Key Management Service cannot be contacted.

The steps below will help you fix the problem easily. This can also be tried for the error code 0x8007232B.

1)      Open cmd(command prompt) with administrator rights

2)      Type slmgr.vbs –ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx (x should be replaced by your 25 digit product key)

3)      Hit enter

4)      Type slmgr.vbs –ato (This will change the product key)

5)      Hit enter

 Another method for fixing activation error 0xC004F074

1) Start -> Run ->Type Slui 3 (Slui 4 for activating by phone)

2) Enter Product key

3) Click Activate

Other methods to try

The issue might be with corrupt system files. Run an SFC scan.

  • Open command prompt(with admin rights).
  • Type sfc /scannow

Try activating, once the scan is complete. If the scan produced errors,this might be a problem with corrupted system files that needs to be taken care of.

The product key has exceeded its unlock limit

Trying to activate too many times can lead to a server error “the product key has exceeded its unlock limit”. Once you get this message, there are only 2 things to do.

  • Dial the automated system and try to activate product by phone.
  • If that failed, talk to a Microsoft technician. Be prepared with details of your purchase of product as the technician is sure to ask questions to confirm if the product is genuine. Once confirmed, they will reset the product key on their server and you wont have any more problems in activating.

At present there are lot of reported issues related to activation. I will be updating this article on a regular basis on steps that could be used to fix this problem.

This should fix activation error 0xC004F074. Enjoy your copy of Windows 8.

About the author: I am Anup Raman. A Tech Enthusiast|Blogger|Tech Trainer with 10+ yrs experience in the field of IT. My expertise are in Operating Systems, mainly Windows and Computer security which comes from my experience, working as Tech Support and Trainer for Microsoft, Symantec and McAfee. Loves blogging about Technical Troubleshooting, discussing latest Gadgets, Games and doing Reviews.

78 comments… add one
  • SNA

    Really the method solve my problem I thanks a lot !!!

  • Thank you very much for solving the problem.

  • Michelle S.

    I just wanted to let you know that you just saved my LIFE. Thank you so much!


    thank”s bro

  • mohammad

    lovely solution.

  • Hami Shim

    Hi, I have the same issue. After a long and frustrating phone call with both Lenovo and Microsoft, I found out that the product key I have is Volume License while my version of Windows is Enterprise Edition. I did not update Windows 8 to 8.1, the laptop automatically did it so now I can’t reverse the process. Even when I tried both of your methods (and Microsoft tried the same thing remotedly on my laptop too), it still didn’t work. Is there any other methods that you can think of? Thank you so much if you or anyone here could help me out.

    • Hi Hami,
      The product you have is Volume Licensed, which means Lenovo bought these product keys from Microsoft in bulk to use it on their own computers. Since this is a product key issue, the entire responsibility is with Lenovo, not Microsoft. Ignore the fact, you upgraded to Win 8.1. This has nothing to do with the problem.
      This is what you can do.
      1. Follow the steps here and check if it gets fixed.
      2. Contact Lenovo and ask them for a new key. Make sure you have all information necessary to confirm that you have an authentic product. If you can convince them, they should give you a new product key to replace.

  • Edwin

    I upgraded my laptop from Windows Vista to Windows 8 about a year ago, the guy that did the upgrade told me that what he had was a VOLUME licence for windows 8 and office 2013, it worked fine until couple a days ago when i was downloading updates and when i restarted the computer i got the “needs to activate windows” error and it is also happening on my office. I will try your methods for Windows but can you tell me if you have anything for Office?

    • Hi Edwin,

      Try the steps mentioned here for Win 8. If the problem still exists, maybe the number of volume licenses might have exceeded the allowed limit. Since the activation issue is happening on both Win 8 and Office at the same time, this should be an issue with volume license. You need to get in touch with the guy and get it fixed. Or else, you might want to buy a new licensed copy.

  • abhishek

    i ran sfc scan and it showed some corrupt file.
    then what should i do now?

    • When an sfc scan is given, it checks the integrity of important operating system files and then repair it. In the end, it will number of errors and repaired files. You may repeat the sfc scan again, to check if the number of error reduced than before.
      Once the scan is complete, try to activate.

  • muz

    Thank you!. Used the first method and worked just fine, luckily I was able to find the e-mail with the product key. Great Help. Thanks!!

  • Art Gorman

    Thanks for the help I uses slui 3 on the command line and it worked fine.

  • youngok

    hi anup,
    I am youngok, i want to ask is there anyway by which i can get my product key(i mean i have never seen mine,as the windows 8 was preinstalled in my laptop).
    Please can u help me i am in a big mess over here……

    • If the product key was pre-installed, you should have it written at the bottom on a sticker or it might be there with the papers that came with your laptop. If this is a branded laptop, their tech support can help you recover it. Additionally, there are softwares like Belarc Advisor or ProduKey which can find the product key for the installed softwares inside a computer.

  • renzo

    Thank you, some frases are with space bar.

  • richie

    hey ,its not working for me
    tried those methods. Can u help me out?

    • Hi Richie,

      These are the only steps as far as I know in order to fix this issue. Unlike other troubleshooting steps, since this one involves activating the product, we have limitations. The last step I recommend is to contact Microsoft or the Original Equipment Manufacture if you have a genuine product key.

  • Luciano

    I tried with an SFC scan and everything was alright. But when I tried to activate windows again, the error was not fixed. I can’t try with the other methods because I don’t have a product key since I bought my laptop with windows already activated. What should I do?

    • Download free software Belarc Advisor or ProduKey and run a scan in order to get the product key installed on the laptop. Once you get it, try the steps mentioned above.


    wow, finally, its work… thanks

  • Ahmed maher

    How is it going
    I’m having trouble running Windows
    Windows 8.1 enterprise
    Please advise
    In the process of running Windows
    What is the meaning of such notice
      Windows 8.1 enterprise
    Build 9600

    • It means you need to activate the windows or else the one installed in your computer is an evaluation copy. In the first case, activating windows will fix it. In second case, remove evaluation copy or buy a copy of windows 8.1.

  • Rebecca Taylor

    Hi, Im just wondering if you could help me, my laptop keeps asking me to activate windows but it keeps failing. I’ve tried updating any available updates but this didn’t help. My laptop came activated so i do not have the previous key used to activate it. I have run Belarc Advisor, and thought I found my product key, but when I typed it into command prompt, it was too short and instead changed a number of different things on my laptop which I’m unsure what is.. I could not find anything else resembling a product key. I’m really confused and think I’ve screwed up my laptop. Please help!
    Any suggestions would be great!
    Thank you.

    • I don’t think it’s screwed up completely. Yes, you have a problem with activation issue and you can get it fixed by following the procedure mentioned here using the right product key.

      Belarc Advisor works perfectly on my PC, but I have seen the product key not displayed properly only displaying the last 5 number of product key. After working on a client’s computer who had a pirated copy installed, my understanding is that it may have problem with retrieving the product key as it is on a cracked software. You need to get the original product key. Check the document that came with the product and check if it have the product key. Some laptop may have stickers on the back side which may have the product key mentioned.

      Once you have the right product key, use the method here to activate product.


    dear Anup Raman,
    i purchased a new laptop samsung notebook with windows 8 installed from U,S,A . its still under warranty. when i tried to upgrade through the windows store to windows 8.1 it was not upgrading.several times it use to get downloaded to 50/60% and then stop. so i found windows enterprise 8.1 through a torrent and downloaded it. i installed it but now i cannot activate that copy online. if i am entitled for a free upgrade then will microsoft help me. or will i have to remove this copy and switch back to windows 8 again. i called up the microsoft guy and he said that i have to contact samsung only for the key. kindly advice . thanking you

    • Hi Kuresh,

      You did a big mistake by installing Windows 8.1 copy from torrents which must be a pirated version. It is a known issue that some users don’t get the prompt to upgrade to 8.1 in windows store, but it does have a solution which you should have followed.

      At this time, I am not sure if you completely wiped out the previous original version of Win 8 from computer. Some manufacturers keep a hidden recovery partition inside the computer which contains the original OS files, which can be used to re-install it back.In order to access the hidden parition, you may have to use F1, F2 or some other key combinations (The key varies for different manufacturers). Find out if you can get access to the recovery partition and re-install the original Windows 8 back. If that didnt work, you need to contact Samsung to see if they can help. Worse case, you may have to order the CD from them which may cost of few bucks, but not up to the original cost of Windows 8 disk.

      The Microsoft guy is right, there is nothing he can do the moment you removed the original. You need help from Samsung.

  • Bryan

    I just bought my laptop last November. It went into a problem a couple of months ago so I did a System ‘Restart'(idk what this term exactly but is similar to System Restore which is a feature of Windows 8) Finally it’s working back to normal now and I just noticed it kept on searching for Windows activation key. The OS was included in the laptop bundle itself thus I don’t have a boot CD/ CD key with me so I’m being careful with my actions on my laptop. Whenever I click the activate button it returns activation-error-0xc004f074. Ofc I searched the net for troubleshooting options like this. I ran into several options but its still the same, activation-error-0xc004f074. I hope you can help me. I don’t want to make a technician see this as they are just taking advantage of the issue and will start charging me one-by-one step from checkup to the actual repair

    • Run the free program Belarc Advisor.
      After the scan, it will create a document which will have the product key for all softwares including the product key. Once you have the product key, try the steps mentioned here.

  • Kim

    (Additional information (again))

    Hello again and again!! I tried the third method and it says there:

    Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them. Details are included in the CBS.Log windir\Logs\CBS\CBS.log. For example C:\Windows\Logs\CBS\CBS.log. Note that logging is currently not supported in offline servicing scenarios.

    Just bought my laptop exactly 2 months and three days ago. Still under warranty. The technician told me they might need to replace the motherboard with a new one and they need to reformat my laptop. But I’m not ready yet. :((

    Is there anything I can do to solve this? Thanks in advance, Anup! 🙂

    • Hi Kim,

      I dont think this had anything to do with motherboard issue. Since you said the laptop is new, I assume you dont have much files installed. Take a backup and re-install everything to factory settings and then try to activate it.

      If there is a prob in activating, you might need the help of laptop manufacturer as they might have provided you the operating system.

  • omar

    my friend, i bought a fujitsu laptop, it comes with DVD recovery and recovery partition on the HDD ok ? on the dvd there is (OEM activation 3.0 required)
    i have format the C partition and install windows 7, reformat and install windows 8 again, and update the bios from 2.05 to new version from fujitsu web site 2.06. ok ?
    this is all what i did, but in the windows it shows me that (your license to use windows expires on 3/7/2014)
    i installed this yesterday !!! one month only ? how ?!!!
    please help me to solve this.

    • Hi Omar,

      I believe the Win8 installed here is a cracked version. It might have been activated by a programs like KMS activator which only activate the copy for a certain time period. Then you will have to re-activate it again.Hope you got my point.
      An original copy of windows OS which is licensed for one PC is valid for a life time on one computer.So there is no way you will get this message, if you have a valid copy. The win 7 inside the recovery CD is the original licensed software for this laptop. Either use the original win 7 that came with the laptop or contact Fujitsu for a genuine Win8 copy. They might be able to give you a better deal on the product.

      Hope this helps.Good Luck.

  • omar

    i don’t have a key, this is my recovery DVD which come with my fujitsu laptop, what should i do ?

    • Some recovery disk dont ask for a product key while installation. In case if it asks, check if you have a product sticker on the laptop which have the product key written or else check the document that came with the laptop.

  • novz

    The first suggestion worked perfectly to me. Thank you!

  • Nazar tn

    Many Thanks it works well now and activate the windows key

  • Matthew

    I also have a problem… the laptop doesnt have a licensed key sticker… what should i do?? the brand is samsung, the error says “error 0xc004F074”.. pls help me…

    • Could you please check the documents or the disk cover that came with the laptop which may have the key written. if not, you may have to check with manufacturer? There is nothing much we can do without the key.

      You can also try a free PC audit software Belarc Advisor which can help you find the product key.

  • LabMunkie

    This post assisted me with an activation issue in Windows Server 2012.

    The problem: We did not realize Active Directory had to be updated to the latest DC Functional level in order to use the newer KMS offered in WS2012. We had installed the KMS software, discovered the limitations and uninstalled it. However during this process it seemed to mess up the local activation.
    Steps & Notes:
    Started an elevated command prompt
    I ran slmgr.vbs –ipk (key)
    I then ran slmgr.vbs –apo
    I received a notification telling me the key was registered successfully.
    I ran slui 3 and the system registered itself, thus clearing the error notifications and activating the system.

    Many thanks.

  • Agraav

    Slui 3 worked for me. Thanks very much bro.

    • Matt Ray

      Same here. My frustration just subsided. Thanks!

  • Melanie

    Worked perfectly for me. Thanks Anup.

  • John


    I had Windows 8 already installed on my laptop when I bought it. When I tried to activate it, it said error 0XC004F074 after that I tried the sfc/scannow and it gave me CBS.log error and said to look the error up in the log (since I didn’t understood what the log said I searched on the internet what to do), so after that I tried
    dism.exe /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth and this gave me 0x800F081F I found out that this was a .Net Framework 3.5 error so I re-installed .Net Framework 3.5 again, but this time offline. And tried the sfc/ scannow again. And this gave me again the CBS.log error after that I tried the
    dism.exe /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth again which gave me this time a 0X800F0906 error which again was an error of .Net Framework 3.5.

    At the moment I don’t know what to do and once in a while there pops up something from the Windows start menu that I have to activate my Windows.

    I hope that you can help me.

    Thanks in advance,

    • It seems like there are already software problems in computer. I hope the laptop is brand new and don’t have much data inside.

      • If you have any security software installed, remove it, restart and then try to activate.
      • Why don’t you try format and re-install everything back? Of course, you need to take back up before doing it. This link might help you.

      Feel free to inform the results. Good Luck.

  • joyce

    i bought a laptop on acer store, it has already installed windows 8. after a few months. last week i encountered this, No Key Management could be contacted and then Error 0xC004F074. how do i fix this. i dont have the product key.

    • You have the OEM version of Windows 8 in your computer. There must be some documents or a sticker at the bottom of the laptop with product key written on it. Try it.
      If it failed, you need to contact Acer to get this fixed. Since this is an OEM copy, even Microsoft may not be able to help you fix this.

      Hope this helped.

  • Tarun

    Thanks a lot…Slui 3 worked…

  • Jarek

    Thanks man, Slui 3 thing worked like a charm, much love!

  • DJ

    Thanks man. The slui 3 thingy was the one that worked for me.

  • Claudio

    This did not work for me!! Bought the desktop new in Best Buy 1 month ago without windows 8 activated!! I called them, they told me to call Dell, called Dell they told me to call Windows, called Windows they told me to call Dell – DELL came to my house, changed motherboard and still have issues they could not activate the Windows 8, now desktop has with video issues, windows 8 sucks but Dell can not handle anything, it might be the worst company in America – Best Buy is selling faulty desktop but they blame Dell, Dell blame Windows, this is unbelievable. Hope they replace it soon, its the Dell Inspiron All in One just released in June for 450$ DONT BUY IT

    • Quite upsetting to see what happened to you.

      This is what I understand. Dell is the one who should activate the windows for you. There is no point in calling Microsoft support as the Windows 8 that came installed inside Dell should be an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) copy.If the copy of Windows 8 is bought from Microsoft directly or from a retail store, it is the responsibility of Microsoft. But they have limitations when it comes to OEM copy as the licencing responsibility is with Dell.So my suggestion, don’t leave Dell until they get it fixed.

      Regarding the Windows 8 crashing, I suggest you install the latest 8.1 update. Hopefully it should get all issues fixed.

    • Gabriel

      I got my windows 8 from best buy too and I got the same issue, they had me call HP and HP had me call Microsoft its crazy how companies make money and have the worse service in the world.

  • Susan

    Many, many thanks – the first solution worked perfectly. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!


  • Fernando

    Thanks man. The slui 3 thingy was the one that worked for me.

  • Edgar

    Muchas gracias, me funciono de maravilla.

    Saludos desde Mexico.

  • BOSS


  • Ley

    Worked perfectly for me.

  • Sabir Ali Siddique

    its not working properly here on my PC I have a purchased key but the error is that a message is displayed
    your key has exceeded the unlock limit
    please help me

    • Usually this happens, when the same Windows 8 is used on multiple computers or if you replaced a hardware inside the computer. Please contact the Microsoft Support.Since this is a legally purchased key,you won’t have any problem in getting their help in getting this activated.

      • jeff

        thank you very much

  • Gilani

    i don’t know my 25 digit product key, in this case what to do.

  • ismail

    Worked like a charm. Thanks

  • Raj

    This command worked like a charm and my issue is fixed… 🙂

    Thank you so much for this solution.

    slmgr.vbs –ipk xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  • LIKE A BOSS! Thanks mann

  • vinay

    First two methods do not work for me..
    When i tried the third method sfc/scannow … it throws an error as you must be an administrator to use sfc utility.

    I have only one user in my system with admin rights… don’t know why it throws this error.

    • Unable to do sfc scan, that too with admin rights itself shows that OS is corrupted(seen the same with XP and Vista).This can also happen if the windows installation is an upgrade installation and also when the security software corrupts OS.Try re-installing OS preferably clean install.

  • Scott

    I had to change the dashes into forward slashes ie: slmgr.vbs /ipk xxxxx-xxxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx

    It worked thanks!


    i totally hate microsoft for this. why complicate things? why? I am about to give up coz nothing is solving this error issue. damn u microsoft

  • Gilang

    still doesn’t works


    Hey I tried both methods mentioned above and both of them return the same error, is there anything else i can do to fix the error?

  • Alessandro

    I still have the exact same error when I issue the second line in the command

  • Lawrence

    thanks, i was about to throw out my machine

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