Anyone who has been paying attention to the RTM (Release to Manufacturer) story for Window 8.1 and Server 2012R2 knows that it has been rife with drama.  For those who missed it, here is the background in a nutshell.  Historically Software Assurance (SA), MSDN and TechNet customers have had access to the RTM bits almost as soon as the products were RTM’d.  However this time around Microsoft decided to change things and did not release the bits to us (I find myself among these customers at this time) when the RTM milestone was hit on August 27th.  We were told we would have to wait until the General Availability release on October 18th.

Apparently Microsoft was unable to predict the obvious backlash that was the result of this new policy.  So when the unexpected complaints started rolling in, they did the right thing and decided to release the bits early to the aforementioned groups.  This was great, with one exception.  Microsoft still was not going to release the software (and the requisite keys) to the SA customers though their standard Volume License Service Center (VLMC) site.  We were told (now you know specifically which group I am a part of) that we should just get our bits from our TechNet subscription (SA customers also get a TechNet subscription).  This was fine for testing but for those of us wanting to upgrade our KMS infrastructure (Licensing infrastructure for Servers and Enterprise version of Windows) and be ready for users by the October 18th GA date, we still needed our official KMS keys (which are provided by the VLMC site).

Well after some back and forth with various resellers and MS reps, it appears that our keys have finally shown up in VLMC site.  They are not in the obvious location so you need to dig deep to find them.  First off know that the RTM bits are still not available in the site and even if you “export all keys” from the “Download and Keys” tab you will still not find the keys there.  However if you navigate to the “Enrollment Details” page for your active enrollment and then click on the “Product Keys” sub-tab, you will find your MAK and KMS keys for both Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2.

This just leaves us one question to be answered.  I have heard rumors that I cannot apply these new KMS keys to the KMS server without first installing a patch to the server (currently running on Server 2008R2).  Yet I can find no official information about this patch.  Even our MS reps are at a loss on knowing anything more (yet they have heard the rumors as well).  MS, so far, seems to silent on this one.  Let’s hope they give us something soon.

Update: Our MS rep confirmed that the needed patch to update our KMS server would not be released until close to the GA date.  He suggested that if we opened a support ticket we could probably get early access to the patch.  I wasn’t a fan of that option.  Instead we simply installed a copy of the RTM Server 2012 R2 and applied our KMS key to that.  So far things are working well.  We have already hit our minimum counts for both server and client OS’s and should be migrating the server into production soon.  So after a bit of work and a lot of frustration, looks like we will be ready for GA in a few weeks.