“Windows Can’t Activate Right Now” error message when trying to activate Windows 8

I recently updated from Windows 8 Developer Preview to the full version. Instead of doing a direct upgrade or installing from scratch, I burned Windows 8 to a CD and through the options given, told Windows 8 that I’d like to upgrade without saving any any old data, apps, profile information. I was basically installing from scratch, but the Windows 8 was saving my data off to the side in a Windows.old file.

I started up my new installation of Windows 8 and began editing my profile, but was warned that I wouldn’t be able to personalize anything until I activated my account. When trying to activate, I was given the error “Windows cannot activate right now. Try again later” – or something along those lines.

Through some internet searching, I learned that I needed to run the following command as an administrator:

After running the command, my product was activated and I could do anything I wanted. I rebooted for good measure. Screenshot below for you visual folks:

  • http://sonyarouje.com Sony Arouje

    Thanks for the post Dan. It helped me a lot.

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    Great to hear! Cheers!

  • mynameisbilla

    Hey mate sorry but it doesnot work…It says insufficient privelages……mail me at mynameisbilla11@gmail.com

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    Hi Bill A,

    Typically if you get an “Access is denied – Insufficient Privileges” while running commands it’s because you aren’t running command prompt as an administrator (also called running it elevated). Be sure to open command prompt as an administrator. You can hit your windows key, do a search for “cmd” then right click the app and choose to run it as an administrator, or you can browse to c:\Windows\System32, find cmd.exe, right click and run as an administrator. Either way you do it, make sure you’re running it elevated. You won’t get the privileges error.

    Let me know if this helps. I’m pretty sure my reply will email you a notice.


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  • craig

    Thank you for your post!!!!!
    No idea how you found this one.

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    Glad it helped. Cheers!

  • yugansh

    I tried what u said and after that some kind of dialogue box came up it was saying about windows script host and a lot of options are written under it if I press ok another box appears with lots of more options and this happens for at least 4 times
    what to do please help me.

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    I’m sorry yugansh, but I haven’t seen that issue before. Which version of Windows 8 are you trying to activate? And what are the exact errors of the box? I’m surprised, we’ve had such great success with this.

  • Tom

    Thanks, this worked for me! I installed Windows 8 in Virtualbox running on a Windows 7 machine and got this message when trying to activate Windows 8. Command worked perfectly!

  • ding

    Thanks so much mate…it helped me a lot.

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    Good to hear this is still the fix. It’s been a while. i would have assume this issue would be rectified, or something would have changed. Oh well. Cheers.

  • http://gmail vishwashanumapalli

    on a windows running on non core edition slui.exe………..
    this is coming please help

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    I’m not quite sure I understand what you’re asking. Can you give me some specifics?

  • Nix

    How do i find my system key? My hp came pre loaded, nothing with a obivous key.

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    http://www.magicaljellybean.com/ Makes an awesome lightweight key finder. It’s an .exe file. Download it and run it and it will tell you your keys. Hope this helps. Here’s the direct download to the keyfinder:



  • Nix

    Thank you for your help but the problem persists. Hp suggest that after an update the system wrongly assumes i have a trial version and i should reinstall but want to avoid losing all the personalising i’ve done.

  • Nix

    Finally figured it out. Had to activate windows 8 with [deleted].

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    Sorry, but using that tool is a crack. I can’t condone the use of cracks when dealing with activating Windows, be it with legitimate copies of the OS or not.

  • Nix

    Had no idea it was a ‘crack’, googled solutions and tried all of them. Problem still persists. Didn’t want to lose all my settings/programmes but am going to have to do a complete reinstall, failing that take it back to the store i brought it from. Thank you for your advice and please remove this (can’t find a delete option myself) and my previous comment as i don’t wish to be associated with use of cracks over the internet either.


  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    It’s quite alright. Don’t get me wrong, if I need to, I’ll use cracks here and there to get the job done. But from a work perspective, I can’t use cracks for the companies I support. And from the perspective of this blog, I can’t advertise them or condone the use of them; that’s all. Have a good day!

  • premdeep singh

    still not working again showed error

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    This issue is getting a little dated, you’re better off downloading the latest media as this issue was fixed quite some time ago with later media distribution.

  • Kat

    Thank you!!

  • Guy

    I put in the command and it still says it can’t activate right now, even after I restarted my desktop, any advice?

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    Glad to see it helped. Cheers!

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    @Guy what version of Windows 8 are you running? I’d find a newer version of Windows at this point as the issue itself is outdated, that will take care of the issue altogether.

  • Guy

    Thank you for your help. The error is now longer on my computer now! Thank you!

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    Awesome! Good luck with Windows 8. It’s come a long way. Be sure to run updates!

  • Dave B

    That’s solution is all fine but I purchased my Toshiba satellite S50T from a store with Windows 8 pre-installed.

    I haven’t upgraded to 8.1 as my system panel indicates I am still on Windows 8.

    I am now getting the ‘unable to activate at this time’ message. I have no key as it is no longer included under the battery case (this laptop has no external batter).

    A search using Belarc shows I have no key??

    Microsoft – Windows 8 (x64) 00190-70000-00001-AA730 (Key: none activated)
    Norton – NARA NARA
    Toshiba – Affiliate 5D048093M

    Yet my activation page shows I have a key with the last few digits -27GG4???

    Any suggestions?



  • Rumnet

    Belarc will NOT give you the CD KEY. It will give you a registry value that LINKS to the cd key. Same issue here. Had to download magical jelly bean’s keyfinder to get the real cd key. worked like a charm.

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    Migical Jelly Bean has, somehow, been an industry standard tool for years now. Love it.

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    Apologies for not responding sooner. If you just purchased your machine, there’s a good chance support will be able to provide you with the information you need. Use the Magical Jelly Bean to see what your key really is and start from there.

  • AbsolutelyPissedATWOS8

    I have done and attempted everything above. I swear if I get one more interruption of PC settings popping up interrupting my gaming asking me to activate windows. I WILL THROW THIS COMPUTER AT MY WALL and give up gaming.

    Please save me a 1000 dollars of frustration and tell my why when I put the product Key in it still will not activate I did all your magic jelly bean stuff and i did the cmd as admin stuff I also did the the belarc to find everything. I cannot get updates either when my computer shuts down or restarts for updates it will say working on updates 14 to 16 or 19 or how ever many. then my computer auto restarts saying Undoing all updates unable to install. then every time it does this my computer gets slower and slower. I JUST F***ING BOUGHT THIS thing 5 weeks ago and frankly I am PISSED with the fact this was not activated when I BOUGHT IT. if it came with it then its payed for so why the hell am I being hassled with this activation shit that i cant even do. PLEASE DEAR GOD FIX THIS BEFORE I FREAK OUT. PS please dont judge me my life is ridiculously stressful. if my K/D spread suffers more cuz of the interruptions from PC settings I will not be happy.

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    Hi Ryno,

    Is there no chance to discuss this with where you made your purchase? Normally licensing support is handled. And I don’t think your frustrations will result with more than $100, as that’s what a license will really cost you, should you have to get a new license. If all else has failed, and they aren’t willing to help where you made your purchase, you may have to put up $100 for a new license. That’s the only legal way to get it done.

    Not judging you for the stress. The Dread Knights will move forward as you get this figured out.

  • AbsolutelyPissedATWOS8

    Thats not cool bro there is a reason I did not post my name or anything else. Let alone very creepy that you know all that with out me telling it. either that or by My Email you know who I am. I dont want people knowing I am famed. please delete the dread knight part thank you.


    thanks man..it worked

  • xesMC

    it wont work.. ive even tried the run as administrator thingy a window pop up and said
    An error has occured and it opened another window saying On a computer running Microsoft Non-core edition…. plz help soooon

  • Fizmon

    Thank you! This solution worked for me.

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    Awesome, glad it helped. Thanks for replying, sometimes I’m not sure if these older tricks are valid anymore. Cheers!

  • Buddhi

    You are a true life saver bro. thank you very much.

  • Rami

    Great Post. Thank you

  • BUD

    Hi there,
    I have the same problem. I have tried all these methods to get windows activated, but it still says “Windows cannot be activated right now” message. even though it says “thanks,you are done” after I input my key. I have no idea what the problem is. but I have tried everything, and even though it seems to accept my key and tell me im done… Its not done!

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    At this point in time this post is about three years old. There have been major updates to the OS, and we’re even on different OS versions. Unless you know for sure your OS build is from 2012, I wouldn’t necessarily trust that your build has the same results as what I’ve discovered here.

    Good Luck

  • Manhawy


    i have problem also in activating my windows 8.1,
    i downloaded Jelly bean and got my CD serial, i used command prompt to enter it
    but when i entered slmgr.vbs /ato it gave me an error stating that no key management service (kms) could be contacted.

    what i can do

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee


    At this point it’s almost better to just wait for Windows 10, which will be a free upgrade whether you have an activated copy of Windows or not. If that’s not an option you’d like to take, you can most likely find a more recent version of Windows to download and use that.