One of the advantages of the activation process in newer versions of Windows is that you can install the OS in evaluation mode for 60 days without having to use a license key. Additionally, you can extend this evaluation for more than 60 days by following steps outlined in several public posts (I’m including
this link to Sean Daniel’s post on this).
A critical step in this process, however, is the restart of the box AFTER the slmgr.vbs -rearm command has been run. If the system is NOT restarted after this process, some unusual behaviors can be observed. This post is to identify the specific errors that can result from this specific set of circumstances so that should someone run across this situation you can see what may be going on.
I recently ran into this issue with an SBS 2008 server. When signing into the server, the above error dialog appeared on the server. Closing the error allowed continued normal use of the server, both from an interactive login point of view as well as from a remote resource use point of view. Checking the state of the activation window using the slmgr.vbs script generated the error below:
The error appears quickly (unlike the normal response of the slmgr.vbs script) and the key element is the error code. The 0xC004D302 indicates that an slmgr.vbs -rearm has been run, but the server has not been restarted. In the case of this system, a normal restart of the system returned the box to normal operation without Activation errors and slmgr.vbs ran correctly.
NOTE: This does not cover ALL possible causes for the Windows Activation Errors tied in with slmgr.vbs script errors. It is possible that this behavior could indicate other issues. But if you can log in and use the system “normally” after seeing this error (other activation errors prevent you from completing the login process and you never get to a desktop), chances are you just need to restart the server to return to normal behavior.