A few years ago, we created a web site that would allow our hybrid customers to obtain what’s generally known as the “hybrid key”. This self-service site would validate your O365 tenant and after a few clicks, give you the key to license your on-premises server used for hybrid purposes. This site is no longer available for use, and we’ve come up with a better way for you to get the key. We are excited to inform you we have added a feature that will allow the Hybrid Configuration Wizard (HCW) to detect and license your designated on-premises “hybrid server”, without having to go to a separate web site or call our support team. This change is now available. You can access the HCW here.

Please note that HCW does not provide a 'hybrid key' for Exchange Server 2019. If you need a hybrid key, the latest version that it is available for is Exchange Server 2016.

What does the new experience look like?

When you choose the “Detect the optimal Exchange server” option, HCW will perform the license check on the server and give you a new “license this server now” option, if the server is currently not licensed. Note: HCW will not let you continue from this point on if this server is not licensed, unless you specify an alternate Exchange server to run Hybrid against (second radio button below): HCWkey1 Selecting the “license this server now” link will prompt you for your online administrator credentials. We realize this is an extra credential prompt at this time, but it is needed to validate and obtain the key (the old key distribution site also required authentication). HCW will then indicate the progress of applying the server license to your on-premises server: HCWkey2 Next up, you will get a confirmation that the server has been licensed. You will also have an option to copy the product key (and the CMDlet needed to use it) if you wish to do so: HCWkey3 At this time, unless you want to complete the setup of Hybrid in the HCW, you can exit / cancel the wizard. Full completion of the HCW workflow is not needed for this process to be executed; your on-premises server will remain licensed, and you can re-run HCW at a later date / time. Let us know what you think!

Update 7/24/2018: Updated this post to reflect that the feature has now been released.

The Exchange Hybrid Team

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Cool - How does the HCW validate the customer is entitled to a license? From what I recall, not all Exchange hybrid customers were entitled to this key.
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HCW will verify your global admin credentials for your tenant are valid and if so, provide the key for you.
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How would the tenant be aware of my on-premises licensing situation?
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So only a server unlicensed at the time running HCW will be licensed as a Coexistence Server. HCW will not change the product key of a server already licensed as Standard or Enterprise?

How will a customer get a product key to license an Edge Server?

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What I would suggest is to get a license key and then copy it, and use it on the Edge server. We allow this as per https://products.office.com/en-us/exchange/microsoft-exchange-licensing-faq-email-for-business - see under "If I have deployed multiple Hybrid Edition servers for the purposes of redundancy, can I get multiple Hybrid Edition server keys?"
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Let's say that we have licensed exchange 2016 on prenises server with 100 exchange CALS and we also have 100 O365 business premium licenses, if I migrate all 100 users to O365 does it mean that I freed up 100 on. premises CALs and I can add 100 more users to use my on premises CALs?

Technically have hybrid environment with 100 on premises and 100 O365.

Do I have to get on prem Windows CALS for O365 users since we synchronize users from on premises AD to Azure AD?

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CALS = Client Access Licenses, which have nothing to do with this. The "Hybrid Key" is for activating server installations used for Office 365 on-boarding.
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Why put this page up and remove the licensing wizard before the new HCW is available? I'm trying to move an old Exchange 2007 server to the cloud, I finally got an Enterprise Office 365 license in place today and came back to the page I was at in the week only to find you've removed it and replaced it with this advert for a future possible improvement to something I think only covers Exchange 2010 upwards. You seem to want to make it harder and harder for on-site customers with ageing server to move to the cloud! Please put the old page back, or a link to it, for those of us who don't want to sit and wait for another few weeks for you to actually release this and see if it does help.
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@Laurie Even the "old" way to fetch a coexistence key would not have provided an Exchange Server 2007 product key (https://www.granikos.eu/en/justcantgetenough/PostId/342/get-your-exchange-server-hybrid-key). Exchange Server 2007 is EOL and is not supported in an hybrid configuration /w Exchange Online (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/exchange/exchange-hybrid). In regards to a licensed Exchange 2007 on-premises your option is to install a single Exchange 2013 Server for coexistence. That server will run fine until the new HCW is available and will license the Exchange 2013 server accordingly.


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The whole point of the license key wizard page that this article has removed was to gain a free license for a hybrid server for those stuck on Exchange 2003 or Exchange 2007 to install a hybrid only mode Exchange 2012 or 2016 server and allow the move of accounts across to Office 365. Why would we go out and pay a fortune for a new exchange server license then pay again for Office 365? You seem to be abandoning your older customers with this move - or maybe as your post above shows, whoever replaced the wizard with this page didn't actually read the source pages like this that show why it was provided in the first place. Either way, removing it with no notice at all before the replacement is ready is incredibly unfair and I hope they manager or director views how they are treating their customers in public with a very dim view.

Where can I send the bill for my wasted Sunday in the office after this was removed with no way to perform the planned work, no way for your support staff to generate the keys and just a 'wait until 7th August' message on the replacement page? Had there been notice I'd have got the key last weekend in preparation, I just didn't want to start the Office 365 Enterprise subscription until I was ready to use it, and ended up wasting most of the day going back and forth to Microsoft Support who tried their best to support but ended up being unable to help due to the same daft early replacement of the wizard.


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Hi Laurie - actually, support does not need to run the wizard to get you the key. But it is possible that the engineer you talked to thought they did. :( Please email me at ninobATmicrosoftDOTcom and send me your ticket number and I'll look into this for you.
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What about connecting a Testserver (without a Licence) with a Testtennant. You say the "HCW will not let you continue from this point on if this server is not licensed, ..." - so that is not possible anymore?
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If you choose to not license the optimal server shown, select the second radio button and manually input the same server name. That workflow will allow you to proceed without the server being licensed.
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@testrrrr I believe that you can even license your test server for existence, as long as your tenant utilizes a license plan containing an Exchange Online plan.
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I'm in a hybrid environment.

And now I need to upload Exchange 2013 in another place just install that will already pick up the settings automatically?

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If adding another hybrid connectivity server for the sake of redundancy (guessing that is what you are doing?) - we allow you to reuse the key on another server as per https://products.office.com/en-us/exchange/microsoft-exchange-licensing-faq-email-for-business
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Nino, today Microsoft Exchange 2013 is in a datacenter, but they will not stay there, so we will only install the 2013 Microsoft Exchange CAS for that new server, just run the Exchange 2013 Wizard and it will pick up the settings automatically and then we have to run hybrid wizard to activate license ok?
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I have a client with a 365 environment, who then added "on-prem" AD environment (in Azure) for access to certain things (Print server, NPS etc)

So the Exchange online came first, with the sync'd accounts second.

I'm looking at extending the schema to enable us to hide mailboxes etc..

Would this allow me to install exchange and license it to manage the sync'd accounts? based on that fact we are using Exchange Online?

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In case people are subscribed to comments on this post - FYI, the new version of HCW with this functionality is now live, so you can now self-service getting the 'hybrid key' again.
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@Nino Thanks for the update.
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Can this HCW generate a valid activation key for Exchange Server 2010 SP3 installed with a standard evaluation edition?


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I have just completed the migration for SBS2011/Exchange 2010 to O365. However, Microsoft suggests keeping an on-prem exchange environment to manage by. Can I get an updated version of Exchange and use this key to continue to manage mailboxes and attributes by when support for 2010 runs out?
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It appears that this does not work for Exchange Server 2019, can you confirm that this is the case and when we are likely to see a change to this?
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Sorry to reply to myself but I just wanted to confirm that manually selecting a server will allow you continue the wizard with Exchange Server 2019 (Public Preview)
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Does this work with Exchange 2019 Server RTM ? Regarding several blogs the Hybrid Exchange key is not available for Exchange 2019!?
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Hi there,

We currently have an Exchange 2010 / Office 365 hybrid setup in production. I would like to upgrade that server to Exchange 2016 so that we can use the EAC via Internet Explorer. This would allow our overseas offices to manage Exchange a lot easier than now. Can you please let me know if I could get this license? I don't want to waste my time and run up a new server, install Exchange 2016 and run the hybrid config wizard and find I am not allowed to have the Exchange 2016 license. Thanks for your help.

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Curious to know this as well.
Senior Member

Coming back to the Exchange Hybrid License not available for Exchange 2019. What about organization who migrated all their users to O365 but still have a dirsync with AAD Connect, to be in a supported state they need an Exchange server to change some msExch properties!

Why should they have to choose for an older version to be able to get a hybrid license? If you knew it upfront at all... Once you install an 2019 you can forget about installing an 2016..

@StevenProvo - customers can keep 2016 on-prem for that reason, with a free key - and there's no difference in functionality from 2019. 


We are working on that whole last server thing still. Hoping we have more news at Ignite. 

Regular Visitor

Any update as to when Exchange 2019 will get the free License?  Standing up new server and Management wants Latest Exchange to so we do not have to go through tis for a while again.

@Mike Patterson - 2019 will not get a free license. Use 2016 if you want a free license for Hybrid. 

Regular Visitor

Like StevenProvo stated, we are unable to drop back once installed so I guess once you go to 2019 you are up the creek.

Only if you are a greenfield 2019 deployment - which is rare these days (migrations from third party solutions being the most likely). If you are adding 2019 to an existing 2013/16 environment, which most people are likely to be doing, you can go back and add 2016. 

Occasional Contributor

2019 will not get a free license. Use 2016 if you want a free license for Hybrid. 


@Greg Taylor - EXCHANGE - So if you migrated all of your mailboxes to Exchange Online and have Active Directory on Premise, you MUST run Exchange 2016 on premise to allow management of mail users?  No option to run Exchange 2019 unless you pay for a license?


This is somewhat frustrating.  Can't get rid of on Prem Exchange, can't upgrade to the latest version of on Prem Exchange, according to a blog post, no any real effort is going into allowing Exchange Online mail users to be managed without Exchange On Prem. 

@redamaleki - if all you are doing is using that server for management of users (as you stated), 2016 will do the same job as 2019. There is no advantage or benefit to using 2019 for that scenario. 

Occasional Contributor

@Greg Taylor - EXCHANGE unless you want to run Exchange on Server Core, to help minimize maintenance and overhead for a server that only manages small bits of data in Active Directory . . .

Thank you for the quick response.  Glad I didn't try to install 2019 in a greenfield AD with no Exchange in order to manage a soon to be AD On Prem synced existing Exchange Online deployment.  Would have been no fun.

@redamaleki fair point, that is an advantage, good catch. But that's really it. Just don't turn the monitor on and it'll be almost same as running on Core. 


I'm kidding. 


We have updated some docs to try and make this wrinkle clearer - if there are still ref out there we need to fix let me know. 

Occasional Contributor

@Greg Taylor - EXCHANGE Any issues that you are aware of that would prevent us from deploying that free hybrid Exchange 2016 Server on the same machine that is running Azure AD Connect?  Just trying to minimize the number of Windows Server instances that we'll need for our deployment.

@redamaleki none I am aware of. 

Occasional Contributor

@Greg Taylor - EXCHANGE @The_Exchange_Team Is a walk-through available for installing the Exchange 2016 on-premise server meant ONLY to manage mail properties for users being synced to Azure AD in a greenfield (never had exchange) Windows Server AD environment?  Some of the questions that come up while I'm putting together my plan:

  • Autodiscover SCP - should this be configured to https://autodiscover.outlook.com/Autodiscover/Autodiscover.xml ?
  • Client Access Namespace - should these be changed to anything outside of what the default install configures since Autodiscover will be pointing clients outlook.com?  If so, should they just be using https://www.outlook.com/<virtual service> ?
  • If you use the HCW only to license the server, exiting after receiving the license, can mail properties still be managed?
  • Should AADC have the optional feature checked for "Exchange Hybrid Deployment" during configuration?
  • Do I need an external MPKI SSL cert for deployment of this management server?  Will a self-signed, or internal PKI cert be sufficient?

I'd imagine most of these won't apply to an environment that had Exchange previously as that would have been handled by a hybrid configuration.


In my particular deployment, I already have several Exchange Online users that will be matched and synced from Windows Server AD (using UPNs) after I've extended the schema to include the mail properties and users assigned the corresponding SMTP address from exchange online.  I'll be deploying AADC before Exchange 2016, and I don't want users connecting to internal DNS to suddenly try connecting to the 2016 Management server.

Senior Member

Actually it is not possible to obtain a free Exchange Server 2019 activation with a hybrid key. For earlier Exchange Versions this works trough HCW, but not with Exchange 2019: "Please note that HCW does not provide a 'hybrid key' for Exchange Server 2019. If you need a hybrid key, the latest version that it is available for is Exchange Server 2016."

This is not customer friendly at all - so please add Exchange 2019 to this feature. This is really a issue if you have a "fresh new" installation, because of the schema update we cannot roll back to Exchange 2016. 
Also I do not understand what is the idea of a Modern Hybrid wizard, which brings the feature of getting rid of a public certificate (for cost reductions) but then fully license my hybrid Exchange Server 2019, which is only existing for management tasks so please vote for this in user voice:


Frequent Visitor

Is Office 365 Business Premium entitled to an Exchange 2016 Coexistence License?

New Contributor



Most of the discussion relating to the use of the Hybrid Exchange Key obtained from the Hybrid Configuration Wizard revolves around what you are entitled to do with the Exchange Server. I.e. No mailboxes, just on-premises email attribute management for remote Office 365 mailboxes.


The scenario that I am working with a lot of the time relates to customers hosting all their Server workloads in a Private Cloud. Sometimes this is on their own dedicated hardware, and BYO Server licensing is possible. Other times this is on shared hardware, and SPLA licensing comes into effect.


My question is, if a customer has all their mailboxes hosted in Exchange Online / Office 365, and would like to synchronize their Active Directory to Azure AD using Azure AD Connect, can they run the "Hybrid" Exchange Server in a private hosting cloud with the only license provided the Exchange Hybrid key just for email attribute management?


New Contributor

Working through very unhelpful support who cares not to escalate to product issue I am having with the tooling. 

Running on my 2012 application server where I have ADConnect installed. The tool detects a long dead server> stays on detect optimal> nothing listed underneath it other then 2nd radio button for choose Exchange (which it apparently has done for me)> and I cannot hit next without choosing Exchange options. 

The kicker is the exchange option if chooses for me by force is listed as Client Access, which it is absolutely not nor has ever been.

Guessing there is not a document following this one telling me where the logging is for the application failure or how to troubleshoot the "detect optimal" settings for Hybrid Config Wizard... 

Senior Member

@The_Exchange_Team  @Greg Taylor - EXCHANGE  Any insight into the reasoning for why the free Exchange Server license is not available for Exchange 2019 hybrid servers, or if the key/license may be included at some point in the future?  I'm OK with using Exchange 2016 and passing on this guidance to our team for now, but my primary concern is with mainstream support for Exchange 2016 ending on 10/13/2020 and having to provide our customers with a path to support in light of that deadline.  Thanks!

Occasional Visitor

@Greg Taylor - EXCHANGE  is there any news on getting rid of the final exchange server. I didn't see anything in the notes from Ignite on this unfortunately. 

Regular Visitor



@The_Exchange_Team @Greg Taylor - EXCHANGE  Exchange 2016 is not supported on Windows server 2019. And you don't activate Exchange 2019. How we can do hybrid with Server 2019?


=> Support team say "Client must now buy server & CAL for an hybrid deployement, because it is the new rule from @The_Exchange_Team ". But Customer pay for office 365 mailboxes and exchange is a prerequisite for hybrid and for managing local console... https://docs.microsoft.com/fr-fr/exchange/hybrid-deployment-prerequisites


I have some customers with new servers on Windows 2019 and with "demo" exchange 2019 that are in end of demo time and it is now critical to have a real solution for that...


Thanks for your help,

@mncomputerguy - take a look here - https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/exchange-team-blog/faqs-from-exchange-and-outlook-booths-at-2... 

@DavidMathieuArtecal - If you want to use Exchange Server 2019 for Hybrid you need a buy a license for it. No free licenses for 2019, we've been very clear on that from the start. Those 'demo's' (do customers really need a 'demo' of Exchange these days?) should have been on 2016 if the end goal of the plan was to connect those on-prem environments to the cloud and take advantage of the free license. 

Regular Visitor

@Greg Taylor - EXCHANGE @The_Exchange_Team 

Thanks for your response but... exchange 2016 is NOT compatible with server 2019 and oem licences don't allows installing server 2016 version.

And office 365 support say "in server 2019 you must install 2019 exchange, it is the only solution to have console..."


Your response is ok but really not usable, I have some customers that are locked with server 2019, exchange and office 365.


Do you have any solution for this case? Of course the user pay for the exchange licences with office 365 and don't want to use on prem server but have no other choises....


The solution is to buy a server license. Or wait until the day we remove the requirement to keep Exchange on-prem once all the mailboxes have gone. We're still working on it.