How MSDN members that only have access to Windows 8 VL (Volume License) editions can activate their Retail Keys instead

Posted by Paul Braren on Aug 21 2012 (updated on Nov 9 2012) in
  • HowTo
  • Windows
  • Let's start with the error that you may see, when trying to activate your Windows 8 x64 Pro installation from the VL (Volume License) media named

    Windows couldn't be activated
    Go to Control Panel to learn about other ways to activate.
    Error code: 0x8007232B
    Error description: DNS name does not exist


    Heading over to MSDN, logging in (assuming you have a current subscription), and browsing your way to the Windows 8 downloads, you may find yourself confronted with this message:

    This is a VLK Key
    While we offer this Volume Licensing (VL) build through Subscriber Downloads, you must obtain product keys from the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).
    Only administrators can access keys in the VLSC, so please contact your organization’s administrator for this key.
    As a more immediate option, you can always choose the retail build of this product, which is available with a product key in this same section of Subscriber Downloads.


    All you need to do is login to MSDN, and head over to the "My Product Keys" area:


    and you'll see any Retail keys you claim listed, just click the "Get a Key" button to make your claim.


    If you go a little overboard with claims in just one day, you'll need to come back another day:


    Now that you got the keys, here's how to change from your Enterprise key (which it never asked you to type in during or after the install of the VL edition), to the Professional key.

    1) Open a command prompt, as Administrator

    2) Type (putting your key inside quotes):
    slmgr.vbs -ipk "your-license-key-here-with-the-dashes"


    3) You should get a confirmation immediately (if you're Internet-connected):


    If you prefer a GUI instead, the method explained here is said to work as well (using Start, Run, "slui 3" (without the quotes).


    it then says "Thanks you're all done."

    I also noticed that after an upgrade install of a ThinkPad T61p, from Windows 7 x64 Ultimate to Windows 8 x64 Professional, I was able to activate using the above "SLUI 3" method. I then removed the hard drive (had issues with wireless after the upgrade).

    So then I put another hard drive in, and did a fresh install of Windows 8 x64 Professional. No problem, was able to activate, using the same exact key.

    Source(s) include:
    Windows 8 activation error: Code 0x8007232b, August 16, 2012, Balássy György

    Nov 06 2012 Update:
    Thanks to Perc, see also new article about Pro and Media Center upgrades:

    and please let us know how it goes, with super easy to use comment system below. Thank you!

    Nov 09 2012 Update:
    Unfortunately, bad news for those who desire to use the free (until Jan 31 2013) Windows 8 Media Center Pack that you get from Microsoft here.

    I went to try and upgrade my Windows 8 Pro, trying to follow the instructions that came along with the emailed license key:

    1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. (If you’re using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, and then click Search).
    2. Enter add features in the search box, and then tap or click Settings.
    3. Tap or click Add features to Windows 8.
    4. Then tap or click I already have a product key.
    5. Enter the product key, and then click Next.
    6. Read the license terms, select the check box to accept the license terms, and then click Add features.

    I quickly noticed there was no such option as described in Step 3 above.

    Turns out, the Volume License version of Windows 8 Pro won't allow Media Center activation, see Missing Media Center in Windows 8 PRO Volume License.

    Then I try to buy a copy of Windows 8 Pro over here, but it gives me an error, "Sorry, Windows 8 isn't available for online purchase in the country/region you are in"

    Workaround is simple, listed here, just launch the file you downloaded, Windows8-UpgradeAssistant.exe, in Windows XP Compatibility mode.

    But still, I cannot seem activate the Windows 8 Media Center Pack.

    If I open a command prompt as Administrator, and type:

    slmgr.vms -ipk "_my license key for Windows 8 Media Center Pack_"

    it fails with this message:


    So I type:
    slui.exe 0x2a 0xC004F069
    and I get:


    So now I try an in place re-install, running the Windows8-UpgradeAssistant.exe, in Windows XP Compatibility mode, and choosing this option, not sure what will happen (I have a full backup)...


    Re-install went fine, takes a while of course.

    And good news, this time, the instructions actually work, step 3 item shows up:

    3. Tap or click Add features to Windows 8.
    4. Then tap or click I already have a product key.

    Paste the "Windows 8 Media Center Pack offer" license key from the email you received from Microsoft.

    It reboots, then:


    then brings up this URL:

    and it all works now (even if Media Center's days are numbered)