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!


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    • sss on June 5, 2012 at 12:14
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    finaly it solved in simple step… change the time to some old date, and try to activate it will wokr

      • Max on September 23, 2014 at 12:54
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      so simple i feel stupid right now thks !!!!

    • Laszlo on June 5, 2012 at 17:56
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    Worked for me too. Set the date back a day and presto!

    • Wesley on June 5, 2012 at 23:22
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    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. Did you also check that you have the right timezone set in addition to the date and time?

    • wild on October 1, 2012 at 04:55
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    • FIXME on October 19, 2012 at 16:02
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    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. Indeed, that is another way to fix up the time and date – good suggestion πŸ™‚

    • Dee on December 11, 2012 at 07:16
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    Sweet, worked like a charm, thank you.

    • David Cockram on January 18, 2013 at 08:43
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    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. Glad to have put an end to your frustration!

    • Tom Dman on January 19, 2013 at 12:40
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    You are a legend mate, I thought the company that built my system had ripped me off, keep up the good work!

  1. Cheers! πŸ™‚

    • kristal wilder on February 5, 2013 at 14:32
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    Thanks so much! I search all over for a solution and this worked.

    1. Glad to have helped! πŸ™‚

    • radu on February 18, 2013 at 02:06
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    My date and time wasn’t correct. After I changed them it worcked fine

    1. Fantastic to hear you were able to solve your problem πŸ™‚

    • Greg Sherman on March 1, 2013 at 08:08
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    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. 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).

        • Greg Sherman on March 2, 2013 at 00:52
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        No – I had not. It was a volume license key though. Not sure if that makes a difference.

    • yatharth on March 18, 2013 at 00:10
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    hi i tried to activate win 8 cp after 15 march but it is not activating what to do

    1. 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.

    • Romy on April 5, 2013 at 01:28
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    This is really work for me. Thanks a bunch

    1. No worries at all πŸ™‚

    • KevHF on April 9, 2013 at 03:19
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    So simple – I was about to ring MS and find out what the problem was and found this soooo simple fix.

    1. 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!

    • Hoang Anh on April 23, 2013 at 11:30
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    You help me to save a lot of time :). You are better than MS support guy.

    1. Glad you managed to fix your problem! πŸ™‚

    • Terrye Foshee Hawkins on April 24, 2013 at 18:32
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    OMG! Thank you so much!!! So simple a solution for such a frustrating problem!!

    1. Indeed, very simple once you know how to fix it! πŸ™‚

    • Sean on May 27, 2013 at 12:52
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    thank you

    • luis mendez on July 9, 2013 at 06:53
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    I just had to fix the date and time and then inmediatly could register it.

    Thanks friend.

    • Caid Johnson on September 19, 2013 at 13:23
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    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, 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.

    • Dennis on December 14, 2013 at 23:47
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    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. 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.

    • Mailus on January 4, 2014 at 22:28
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    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. 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.

    • TM120 on January 24, 2014 at 17:57
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    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. 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.

        • Sebastian on January 20, 2018 at 03:37
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        First I there was a wrong time, after that I had to set my Virtual Machine to bridged. Thanks a lot!

    • Ariel on April 23, 2014 at 15:00
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    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. Is this on a physical machine or a virtual machine?

    • Jackson on May 13, 2014 at 15:51
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    Nice blog…..worked for me! Thank you.

    • itman on May 14, 2014 at 13:38
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    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?

    1. What happens when you attempt to browse to in Internet Explorer on the VM?

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

    • Manjul on May 26, 2014 at 07:19
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    How 2 fix dis Problem On win 8.1?
    plz suggest me some solution my date and time r already correct.

    1. Perhaps a silly question but is your timezone also correct?

    • CUBIASTECH on July 22, 2014 at 09:07
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    C’ est fantastique, can same procedure be applied for windows 8?

    1. Yes, same should apply to Windows 8 and 8.1.

    • Phil on September 20, 2014 at 02:42
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    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.

    • Farid on November 20, 2014 at 14:32
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    Thanks a ton. last of solved

    • Abhishek on November 25, 2014 at 23:03
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    It didnt worked for me. even after correcting date in BIOS and updating timezone on windows 2012.

    Still getting same error message. Please help.


    1. 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?

    • Leonardo Horovitz on December 9, 2014 at 12:32
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    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!

    • Shadrack on January 13, 2015 at 18:16
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    Thank you very much, I almost formatted my laptop

    • Jordan on March 7, 2015 at 06:32
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    I needed to restart in order to get it to work but yes, changing the date works. Thanks!

  2. Nice, solved, Thank you!

  3. dude I have been working on my daughters dell laptop for hours with no luck ! in a few simple words you have cleared it all up !!! thank you so much for you time and efforts ! you just saved me a lot of money that I did not have to spend ! πŸ™‚
    thanks again :))

    • Alberto on September 5, 2015 at 07:20
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    amazing it worked. simple time change!
    thank you.

    • Vince on November 26, 2015 at 03:14
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    Brilliant, thank you.

    • Mike on January 9, 2016 at 01:26
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    Thanks. Sounds to me like MS is using the Kerberos protocol for activation security as well. +/- 5 minutes from the time at MS’s activation servers. Times are sent over the internet in UTC so this means the time zone is also important.

    • Sergio on August 26, 2016 at 23:46
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    Worked for me on Windows 8 (Embedded). Thanks.

    • Vak on April 24, 2018 at 21:37
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    Why can my szuppid OS not tell me the Problem and say only “try ist later again”?

    • Erika on June 9, 2018 at 02:22
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    I had to go in and allow automatic time zone updates to get rid of this error – which I think means I turned on whatever setting allows Microsoft to track my location – after the April 2018 update (thanks a lot MS). But at least it worked because I could not use any Office applications and I never would have thought to check in the date and time section otherwise! Thank you!

    • Rick on July 10, 2018 at 05:51
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    I could not understand why the product key wouldn’t activate and this was the problem. Thanks!

    • FredBear on September 26, 2018 at 15:00
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    For us the fix was simple.
    1) Ensure Internet Explorer is the default browser
    2) Run Windows Update and let it install everything

    After that Windows 7 Enterprise activated immediately and every time.

    • hamza on February 27, 2020 at 20:28
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    Thanks it’s work

    • Jeff on June 10, 2020 at 12:04
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    I’m chiming in a few years after the fact with a similar problem. I have a piece of video broadcasting hardware called a TriCaster TCXD300. This is only relevant because it runs on Windows Vista, and the software is no longer supported (both windows, or the TriCaster software). I want to use the machine, but windows is saying it needs to be activated, and I am receiving the error message that everyone else in this thread has.

    I have gone through all of the listed steps, but my BIOS time is correct, as is regular date/time on the desktop. I have changed MediaBootInstall from 1 to 0 with no success. Any other ideas? Phone activation is no longer available for Vista.

    1. Hi Jeff,

      The only other suggestion I have really come across from Microsoft is to try repairing your network connection or maybe try a more recent network adapter driver if that fails to work.

      I’ve also come across a recommendation to recreate the licensing store (albeit for Windows 7) – this may or may not work on Windows Vista:

      The final obscure thing I could offer up is if your internet connection is somehow proxied and is being affected by certificate revocation lists (different error code but it’s a stab in the dark):

    • Jeff on June 11, 2020 at 02:48
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    Thanks, Boyd! I really appreciate you offering these ideas, as it at least gives me somewhere to start! Much appreciated.

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