I have installed an instance of Win Server 2008 R2 on a Virtual machine.
This machine is purposefully on an isolated environment (no internet) for testing purposes.

I need to activate the machine and I have my MSDN key ready to go. I just ran through the same steps with a Windows 7 VM, and was able to register using an automated telephone service from Microsoft.

With Windows Server 2008, I can see the same option to register using this service, but it is greyed out:

enter image description here

Google pointed me to people experiencing this issue but the only workarounds I saw where to use the internet (not an option for me).

Does anyone know how to enable this option?


Open an elevated command prompt and run slui 4. That will start the "Activate by Phone" option manually.

  • didn't work. It's still grayed out – strongline Jul 20 '15 at 12:20

Fortunately, they posted the exact solution on the Core Team blog. Unfortunately, its not as pretty as it used to be. Good luck!

For posterity's sake:

After Windows Server 2008 Core Edition is installed do the following at a cmd prompt

  1. Install your MAK key using slmgr.vbs slmgr.vbs -ipk XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Where XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX is your 5x5 MAK key supplied by Microsoft

  2. View your Installation ID slmgr.vbs -dti Tip: The Installation ID is a 9x6 number. An easy way to split it up so it is easier to read back to the phone activation system is to hit CTRL-C to copy the contents of the dialogue box and paste into notepad. In notepad it will be broken out into the 9x6 groups and easier to read.

  3. Determine the phone number for your region: notepad %systemroot%\system32\slui\phone.inf

  4. Call the number for your region and follow the prompts to activate (as per normal). Type it into your notepad with no dashes so you can paste it into the next step

  5. Activate with your Confirmation ID slmgr.vbs –atp xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Note: The –atp option is only available when you have installed a MAK or retail key

  • Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. – Mark Henderson Apr 11 '12 at 5:04
  • I would, but the steps are long and detailed, and contain a lot of specific information, so I didn't really want to clutter the answer--regardless, added as quoted text. – Andrew M. Apr 11 '12 at 5:04

My suggestion is you register your OVA image online and then import it to an off-line environment.

Ss for the registration you run in windows help system "how to activate windows": it will bring you the link to a dialogue to activate it, click OK and it will say activated for 180 days (after connecting to windows.com most likely).

  • This doesn't answer the question. The OP said he can't use the Internet, and wants to enable the greyed-out option. – Flup Jul 19 '13 at 10:55

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