How to activate your server

Updated: February 3, 2011

Applies To: Windows Home Server 2011, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard

You can use your newly installed server for a limited amount of time (known as the “evaluation period”) without entering a product key. After the evaluation period, you must either enter a product key to activate the server, or extend the evaluation period.

The following table lists the evaluation period allowed for the associated product.

Product Evaluation Period

Windows SBS 2011 Standard

30 days

Windows SBS 2011 Essentials

60 days

Windows Home Server 2011

30 days


Windows Activation Technologies requires a valid product key. You can purchase a product key online at the Microsoft® Store, from a retailer, or through Microsoft partners who are small business specialists. For more information about the best way to purchase your product key, see the Purchasing Options at the Microsoft website (

To activate your server

  1. Click the Start menu on the server desktop, right-click Computer, and then click Properties.

  2. Under Windows activation, click Activate Windows now. The Windows Activation Wizard appears.

  3. Click Activate Windows online now, type your product key, click Next, and then follow the on-screen instructions.


For information about how to extend the evaluation period, see Extending the server evaluation period.