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May 08 2012

How to Fix Windows Activation Error 0x80072F8F

The last thing you want to see during a Windows installation is an error message and particularly one which might not give you any helpful information on how to correct it (and not many Windows errors fall into that bucket). Anyway, this is a simple yet frustrating problem that I came across recently and I hope the solution will help others.

After punching in your Windows serial key and proceeding with validation you may encounter an activation error with the error code 0x80072F8F. What I have found is that this is normally caused by incorrect date, time and timezone settings on the computer which may have been overlooked as part of the prior steps in the setup despite typing in the correct serial number. Basically, you can try one of two things:

  1. Go backwards through the setup to review the time, date and timezone parameters and ensure that they are correct (6PM in India is not the same as 6PM in Australia),
  2. Proceed without entering a serial number and fix up the time, date and timezone once booted into Windows (then enter in your serial number and activate within thirty days).

Microsoft seems to want to enforce correct times and dates with its serial key validations thus the errors being thrown when a validating computer is outside of the tolerated window (presumably with settings ahead or behind the extremes of the UTC timezones). At any rate, this is simple enough to fix and put behind you!

54 comments

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  1. sss

    finaly it solved in simple step… change the time to some old date, and try to activate it will wokr

    1. Max

      so simple i feel stupid right now thks !!!!

  2. Laszlo

    Worked for me too. Set the date back a day and presto!

  3. Wesley

    I’m having the same problem but my date and time are correct – even set up to update automatically. Is there anything else that can cause this error?

    1. Boyd Chan

      Did you also check that you have the right timezone set in addition to the date and time?

  4. wild

    Thanks

  5. FIXME

    I know I am a little late but I want to add something. If all the avobe did not fix the problem make sure that that BIOS time is current, specially if BIOS have been reset.

    1. Boyd Chan

      Indeed, that is another way to fix up the time and date – good suggestion :)

  6. Dee

    Sweet, worked like a charm, thank you.

  7. David Cockram

    I was getting so frustrated having tried the regedit posted elsewhere – change MediaBootInstall from 1 to 0 and getting nowhere. This solved the problem straight away! Thanks!

    1. Boyd Chan

      Glad to have put an end to your frustration!

  8. Tom Dman

    You are a legend mate, I thought the company that built my system had ripped me off, keep up the good work!

  9. Boyd Chan

    Cheers! :)

  10. kristal wilder

    Thanks so much! I search all over for a solution and this worked.

    1. Boyd Chan

      Glad to have helped! :)

  11. radu

    My date and time wasn’t correct. After I changed them it worcked fine

    1. Boyd Chan

      Fantastic to hear you were able to solve your problem :)

  12. Greg Sherman

    I tried the suggestions here, but for this error they did not work for me. However, I had to use the phone-in-to-Microsoft method of activating to get it to work. Thanks for the tip though!

    1. Boyd Chan

      How odd – I did you activate that Windows serial number in the last six months? That can also prevent activation from going through (I should update the article with that bit of information).

      1. Greg Sherman

        No – I had not. It was a volume license key though. Not sure if that makes a difference.

  13. yatharth

    hi i tried to activate win 8 cp after 15 march but it is not activating what to do

    1. Boyd Chan

      The Windows 8 Consumer Preview expired on January 15, 2013 – you shouldn’t really be using the Consumer Preview now as it will reboot once an hour.

  14. Romy

    This is really work for me. Thanks a bunch

    1. Boyd Chan

      No worries at all :)

  15. KevHF

    So simple – I was about to ring MS and find out what the problem was and found this soooo simple fix.
    Thanks

    1. Boyd Chan

      Indeed it is a simple fix and rather obvious once you know to look for it – it is just so tempting to keep clicking through the setup process without paying too much attention to the settings as we assume the defaults are usually correct!

  16. Hoang Anh

    You help me to save a lot of time :). You are better than MS support guy.

    1. Boyd Chan

      Glad you managed to fix your problem! :)

  17. Terrye Foshee Hawkins

    OMG! Thank you so much!!! So simple a solution for such a frustrating problem!!

    1. Boyd Chan

      Indeed, very simple once you know how to fix it! :)

  18. Sean

    thank you

  19. luis mendez

    I just had to fix the date and time and then inmediatly could register it.

    Thanks friend.

  20. Caid Johnson

    Just wanted to ring in and say thank you for this. I got my Surface Pro replaced, and started to get this issue, making me think that they’d forgotten to activate it at the factory or something.

    Checked the date, after reading your post, and sure enough it was off as it couldn’t communicate with time.microsoft.com, or whatever the default address is. Changed it to another option, it grabbed the right time, and it was immediately activated.

    Thank you, thank you, and thank you again.

  21. Dennis

    I have tried all solutions given on many sites to no avail. Although I have gone back to ‘factory settings a number of times on my computer I have never found this error before. So I am online without a single MS update! Any suggestions please.
    Win XP

    1. Boyd Chan

      Windows XP is getting a bit long in the tooth now and support for security updates will be ending in a bit over 100 days so I would encourage you to upgrade to something like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 instead.

      The error does seem to relate specifically to the time, date and timezone so the only other remedy I could suggest is to manually download SP3 for XP here.

  22. Mailus

    Hello Boyd

    thanks for your support, but I still have problems:
    I’m Italian and I use my factory licensing code used for all Win7PRO 32 bit installation (in italian) without any problem.
    I’m now trying to install Win7 PRO 64bit (in english), setting ALL timezone for Italy.
    …but maybe I made some mistake…
    Where I could verify all settings and how to change it to fix the 0x80072f8f error?

    Thanks in advance
    Best regards

    1. Boyd Chan

      You might need to use the “activate by phone” method instead as you may have a prior activated copy using that serial number still in the latent memory of Microsoft’s activation servers.

  23. TM120

    Hi
    I have a Windows 2008 server SP1 hosted on a virtual machine, and I get the 0x80072F8F error when trying to activate after the grace period expired. How do I correct the BIOS of a Virtual machine.

    1. Boyd Chan

      Bit late in replying (took some time off blogging) but one thing you may want to check is whether or not your virtual network card is configured to use NAT or bridged. Try using bridged mode as it will give you an IP address directly on your local network rather than putting it behind two layers of NAT which could potentially upset the activation process.

  24. Ariel

    Hello I’m getting that same error
    I checked the time and the zone and it’s correct.
    What else can I do to get get rid of that error?

    1. Boyd Chan

      Is this on a physical machine or a virtual machine?

  25. Jackson

    Nice blog…..worked for me! Thank you.

  26. itman

    Hi
    I’ve cloned a VM (vmware) with Windows 2008R2 OEM (with licence correctly activated almost an year ago)
    The cloned VM reported OS licence to be activated.
    The activation process resulted with error code 0x80072f8f, even if date / time / timezone are correct and the physical server is the same of the original (and still running VM).

    Any suggestions?
    Thanks

    1. Boyd Chan

      What happens when you attempt to browse to https://activation.sls.microsoft.com/slspc/SLActivate.asmx in Internet Explorer on the VM?

      1. Carlos

        I was struggling with this for a while. Nothing would work, this link finally did it.. Thanks a million…

  27. Manjul

    How 2 fix dis Problem On win 8.1?
    plz suggest me some solution my date and time r already correct.

    1. Boyd Chan

      Perhaps a silly question but is your timezone also correct?

  28. CUBIASTECH

    C’ est fantastique, can same procedure be applied for windows 8?

    1. Boyd Chan

      Yes, same should apply to Windows 8 and 8.1.

  29. Phil

    I figured out I was logged in as the local machine Admin and I needed to run IE and login with my Domain account before I could activate.

  30. Farid

    Thanks a ton. last of solved

  31. Abhishek

    It didnt worked for me. even after correcting date in BIOS and updating timezone on windows 2012.

    Still getting same error message. Please help.

    /Virtual

    1. Boyd Chan

      Okay, this might be a slightly different problem.

      You may need to update the root certificates that were included with the operating system as they make be out of date or revoked. If you attempt to activate and the root certificates are no longer valid then it could be causing this issue.

      Are you able to skip activation, run Windows Update until all patches are installed and then activate?

  32. Leonardo Horovitz

    I have a Windows Server 2012 R2 under ESXi.
    I had an issue and had to repair windows (with the DVD, etc).
    After repairing, it lost its activation, and showed error 0x8007007B.
    It only showed the last part of the activation key (which was not the correct one).
    I wrote the correct one, and now I get 0x80072F8F.
    The VM has the correct time, time zone and vmtools installed.
    Any clue on what to do…?

    Thank you!

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