There are several new headaches involved with activating Server 2012 and Server 2012 R2.
This guide is for people who already have the host server activated but the VMs are not
You can’t activate EVEN with the Microsoft certified product keys (included below.) You have checked everything and still can’t figure it out! SLMGR or Activation Wizard just doesn’t accept your key.
Well, basically it is probably because you are using a Trial/Evaluation copy of Server 2012. Nothing wrong with that except Microsoft added the word “Eval” at the end of product id. The license manager was not updated to include the additional “Eval” and fails to identify which product you are on. Luckily you can change the Set-Edition of your product to the correct one and activate all in one swoop.
First, you can also verify your product edition/id with this in an elevated command prompt:
DISM /online /Get-CurrentEdition
Next use the elevated Command Prompt to activate keys. Keys provided below.
DISM /online /Set-Edition:ServerStandard /ProductKey:XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX /AcceptEula
Microsoft’s AVMA Product Keys (Legally Public)
Datacenter: Y4TGP-NPTV9-HTC2H-7MGQ3-DV4TW Standard: DBGBW-NPF86-BJVTX-K3WKJ-MTB6V Essentials: K2XGM-NMBT3-2R6Q8-WF2FK-P36R2
Note: Only usable if the VMHOST is activated first.
Note 2: Currently only applies if VMHOST is Server 2012 R2 Datacenter (although I heard conflicting reports it worked when Standard 2012 was installed.)
DISM /online /Set-Edition:ServerStandard /ProductKey:DBGBW-NPF86-BJVTX-K3WKJ-MTB6V /AcceptEula