Server 2022 build 20344 activation

Copper Contributor
I made the mistake of installing build 20344 using a key I found online. It wiped all data so I had to rebuild the server. Now has the annoying message at bottom right saying to activate. Seems I cannot activate it and reading further seems the key I used was for KMS. But I do not want to setup Kms or I do not know how to, I want to test stand alone, anyone know a way round to either activate or go back a build (will need a download link to previous, including language packs) without losing the setup and files I have on build 20344?
OR Microsoft, why have you done this in a test build, can you fix this with and update please?
4 Replies
Thanks, I thought I had checked that thread last week but must have missed that. Done now it worked.... Let's hope future updates don't wipe everything and require new keys. What is the point of changing to KMS activation for a pre release build?
Providing production signed builds was not intended to cause this many issues. As long as the preview builds are not production signed, the pre-release keys will work. We need to turn on production signing as we get close to our final build to test scenarios that are dependent on it. Once we turn on production signing, those pre-release keys no longer work. You can skip entering a key on a clean install, but not on a build-to-build upgrade. This is by design. As you have discovered, using KMS keys is not a good solution either and is not recommended because KMS servers are either not present or have not been set up to accept the new version. If you do not find enough value in the production signed preview builds, the alternative would be to stop releasing to Insiders when we turn on production signing, or stop upgrading when those builds are published. I'd be curious to know what your thoughts are on that so we can do the right thing for you in the future. Also, you may have seen comments from other users that 20344 is the final build. It is not. Stay tuned for more announcements on that.

Hi @Mary Hoffman,

I faced this same situation when I tried to upgrade from build 20298 to 20344, and I saw the installer asking for a product key when I was expecting to just perform the upgrade with no prompts. As a result, I had to restore build 20298 using a backup I had for the virtual machine I was using for local testing. I've been using the server for testing some ASP.NET apps with Docker and some VMs using Hyper-V. I don't have it connected to an Active Directory domain.


I think having preview builds that are not production signed would be good for those of us that want to test the new Windows Server builds in scenarios that are not KMS enabled (i.e. standalone servers, virtual machines, etc.). As far as I understood from your message, Microsoft hasn't set up a public KMS for these production-signed preview builds either, right?


Therefore, having preview builds that don't require product keys for KMS activation would be great, or at least specify somewhere in the documentation or announcements that the installer will ask for valid product keys. I'm not sure if having two flavors of Windows Server builds (with pre-release keys and that required production keys) would be hard for the Windows Server team at Microsoft to maintain, but it would make installation a bit more predictable when upgrading or doing a clean install.


Best regards from Peru,

Jorge Morales