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Fixing a Server 2008 R2 Upgrade from Server 2008 Activation Problem

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After remoting into my domain controller I recently upgraded to Server 2008 R2, I very briefly saw a balloon tip pop up that said: “Invalid Windows Activation” (or something close to that). That was odd as I was sure I had already activated the server. I shudder to think what would happen if your domain controller times out!

Looking at the computer properties, I saw the following:

Clicking on the activate link brought up the totally intuitive error:

<Rant> What’s wrong with a freaking text message? An error code of 0x8007232B is always completely intuitive. </Rant>

Ah, there’s the “More information” link that should tell me what’s going on.

<Rant2>What DNS name!?</Rant2>

Seeing that Windows wasn’t going to help me at all, a quick web search turned up a Knowledge Base article, 929826. That article discusses activation problems with the 0x8007232B error when using Key Management Services and volume licensing. Since I’m not doing any of that, I wasn’t sure what was going on. However, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out I needed to reenter my product ID and try again. That fixed the problem, but checking all my servers I upgraded to Server 2008 R2 none were activated.

I took one of my backups that had Server 2008 for a machine and ran through the upgrade to R2 process to see if I could see what happened. I hadn’t realized it, but upgrading from Server 2008 to Server 2008 R2 doesn’t ask you for a product key. So, if you are upgrading servers, add a step to your checklist that you need to manually go into the properties and change the product key to a valid version after the upgrade. If you need to set the product key on a Server Core installation, use the following commands:

slmgr /ipk <Product Key>
slmgr /ato

As this caught me by surprise, I thought I’d share with others. Thankfully, I caught this before my servers went into reduced mode.

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