Quick Fix: Office 2013 Activation Failure

microsoft_office_2013I have had several occurrences now of Office 2013 failing to activate. This is on brand new PCs with a trial of 2013 installed, or partially installed and after i have registered the key with a Live ID.

I read on a forum that one possible solution to the failure to activate was to go into an Office application, go to File, then Account and use the change license button to enter a new key. The problem was, it didn’t have that option listed.

The solution I came up with was to use OSPP.vbs to install a license key.

OSPP.vbs is a script located in “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15” and is used for Office Licensing Activation. It is useful because you can use it to do a number of things like query your license status, and also to install license keys.

The syntax is really easy.


This should result in a success message. Then you can use OSPP.vbs to activate.

CScript OSPP.vbs /act

This should successfully activate your software.

Because we were working on 44 new PCs at this site, (and they had purchased OEM not a VL) i dropped this into a small PowerShell script to save my fingers typing it all out.

Write-Host “Enter your Office 2013 License key, then press enter”
$Key = Read-Host
Set-Location “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15”
CScript OSPP.vbs /InpKey:$Key
CScript OSPP.vbs /act

You can save this in notepad as ‘Office.ps1’ and run it in an elevated PowerShell window, it will prompt for your license key, which you should enter including the dashes. Press enter and the key should be installed and activated for you.

About Robert Pearman
Robert Pearman is a UK based Small Business Server enthusiast. He has been working within the SMB IT Industry for what feels like forever. Robert likes Piña colada and taking walks in the rain, on occasion he also enjoys writing about Small Business Technology like Windows Server Essentials or more recently writing PowerShell Scripts. If you're in trouble, and you can find him, maybe you can ask him a question.

7 Responses to Quick Fix: Office 2013 Activation Failure

  1. JB says:

    I found that the PS script would fail due to a syntax error at set-location. Using ‘directory’ instead of “directory” did the trick.

    This PS script is a little nicer than the batch script I was using a week ago to deploy 20 OEM desktops.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Strange, works for me with the double quotes, but thanks for posting -may help someone else!

      • Arjan Mensch says:

        First off: thanks, excellent tip here.
        As for the quotes:
        If I copy & paste the code you posted in notepad:
        Set-Location “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15″
        You may notice the quotes are not your normal quotes..

        Set-Location “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15”
        This last line is fixed with the correct quotes in notepad and pasted back here.
        @JB: have you tried replacing the funny quotes with regular quotes after you’ve copied the code?
        @Robert: have you chosen the “code” markup for the piece of code when posting this?



      • I just posted what i used directly from PowerShell, i tried it with double quotes ” ” and single ‘ ‘ and it worked with both for me :)

  2. Diane Burns says:

    I had a similar issue recently with an Office 365 installation, where Office kept asking to be activated, but because you install office as the user who is signed in to Microsoft online, it should automatically activate without a license key. In the end, the only way to enable it to run through the activation wizard was to run Word as administrator – very strange as the user was an administrator of the machine!

  3. dog says:

    c script should be without space in between, ie should be cscript

  4. fader says:

    Thanks, this was really helpful and solved my problem!

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