​Why Is Microsoft 2016 Won’t Activate and How to Fix it? - A Comprehensive Guide

February 19, 2024 918 views

The release of the 2016 version of Microsoft Office marked a significant milestone in office productivity. Its arrival sparked widespread excitement, thanks to the introduction of groundbreaking features like co-authoring, data loss prevention, and enhanced integration. For many users, this version remains the preferred choice, fulfilling all their office suite requirements with ease. However, if you've been using it for some time and now encounter Office 2016 won't activate, we've got you covered with a comprehensive guide to help you navigate through the activation process successfully.

Microsoft 2016 Won’t Activate Fix

Reasons for Microsoft Office 2016 Won’t Activate

There can be various reasons why Microsoft Office 2016 won't activate, here are some common issues and examples to help understand the root cause:

  • Pre-installed licenses from OEMs: Some computers come with pre-installed Office licenses from manufacturers like Dell or HP. These licenses may conflict with a new license, causing activation issues.

  • Incorrect account sign-in: Using the wrong Microsoft account to sign in during the activation process can result in activation failure.

  • Multiple copies of Office installed: Having multiple versions or copies of Office installed on the same computer may cause conflicts and activation issues.

  • Subscription status and renewal: If using a subscription-based Office version, failure to renew the subscription or an expired subscription can lead to activation problems.

  • Network and connectivity issues: Poor internet connection or network issues can prevent Office from communicating with Microsoft servers for activation.

  • Corrupted Office installation: A corrupted installation of Office files or registry entries may hinder the activation process.

  • Incorrect date and time settings: Incorrect system date and time settings can cause activation failures.

  • Volume license issues: If using a volume license, issues with the key or its allocation may prevent activation.

How to Fix Microsoft Office 2016 Activation Errors

If you have attempted to activate Microsoft Office 2016 with your product key and are still unable to gain full access, here are some possible solutions on how to activate Office 2016.

Method 1: Check your Account

Many times, users sign in with the wrong account, often using their personal email address, while their Microsoft Office 2016 subscription is registered with their work or school email. In such cases, they face this issue, which can be easily resolved by signing in with the email associated with their Microsoft Office 2016 subscription. Here is how users can view their email address:

Step 1: Open any Microsoft Office 2016 application, such as Word 2016, and click on "Account" in the left-side panel.

Step 2: Here, users can view the account they are logged into. If you wish to check for a subscription or log out, click on "Manage account".

Step 3: You will be redirected to your Account page on the official Microsoft website.

Microsoft Office 2016 Word Account

Step 4: Here, in the top right corner, click on the "User" icon and sign in with a different account if the current email in use is not correct.

Microsoft Accounts page

Step 5: Alternatively, to check your subscriptions, click on "Subscription" in the left-side panel to view your current Microsoft Office 2016 plan.

Microsoft Subscriptions

Method 2: Update Office

If you're utilizing your registered email account and still facing issues, consider checking for updates to address any unlicensed product errors in Microsoft Office:

Step 1: Begin by launching any Microsoft Office application, like Microsoft Excel.

Step 2: Navigate to the "Account" section on the left-side panel to access account details.

Step 3: Within the Accounts window, select the "Update Options" button and then click on "Update". Microsoft Office will automatically search for updates and install any required files during the upgrading process.

Microsoft Office Updates

Note: Ensure a stable internet connection to avoid difficulties while searching for updates.

Method 3: Reinstall Office 2016

If all else fails, consider reinstalling Microsoft Office as a last-ditch effort to resolve the issue independently. While it may take some time, this approach can effectively eliminate the activation message and get your Office application back in working order:

Step 1: Begin by searching for the Control Panel in the search bar.

Step 2: Open the Control Panel and locate the "Uninstall" option under the Programs heading.

Note: This step may vary based on your Windows version.

Step 3: Identify your Office program, right-click, and choose "Uninstall" to remove it from your system.

Uninstalling Microsoft Office on Windows

Step 4: After uninstallation, visit the official Microsoft website using your browser.

Step 5: Sign in and download the Office application tailored to your Windows version.

Step 6: Once downloaded and installed, open any Office app, sign in, and start using the application.

Office 2016 Activation Quick Fixes

Here's a brief overview of each method and when to use them:



When to use

Check your account

Ensure you're signed in with the correct account associated with your Microsoft Office 2016 subscription.

If facing activation issues due to using the wrong account.

Update Office 2016

Check for updates to address unlicensed product errors.

If issues persist despite using a registered email.

Reinstall Office 2016

As a last resort when previous methods haven't worked.

As a last resort when previous methods haven't worked.

Office 2016 Activation Quick Fixes

How to Activate Microsoft Office 2016 with Product Key?

If you have your Microsoft product key, the process involves a few steps to activate your Microsoft Office 2016 product:

Step 1: Simply open any Microsoft Office 2016 app on your system and head over to the Account tab on the left side panel.

Step 2: Here, you can see that Microsoft Office 2016 is not activated. To activate it using the product key, click on "Activate Product".

Microsoft Office 2016 Activate Product

Step 3: Now, simply click on the "I don't want to sign in or create an account" link at the bottom.

Microsoft set up Office dialog

Step 4: In the next window, insert your product key, and your Microsoft Office 2016 will be activated.

Microsoft use Product Key

Step 5: If you don't have Microsoft Office 2016 installed, simply go to the Office setup page using your browser.

Step 6: Here, simply follow the steps to sign in and activate your Microsoft Office 2016 subscription, once done, click on “Next”.

Microsoft Office Sign in

Note: If you haven't linked any account yet, you can link a new email address to your Microsoft Office 2016 subscription.

Step 7: Once logged in, users will be redirected to the Microsoft Account page. Here, you can view details of the Microsoft Office 2016 subscription. To install Microsoft Office apps, simply click on “Install”.

Microsoft Install Office Apps

Step 8: Follow the steps to install Microsoft Office 2016 on your system. Once installed, open any Microsoft Office app and click on Sign in at the top right corner of the office app.

Microsoft Office 2016 sign in

Step 9: Now, simply sign in using the account you registered with.

Step 10: Review the email ID in the Activate Office window, and then click on “Next”.

Microsoft Activate Office 2016

Step 11: At the end of all the steps, once Office 2016 has been activated, a Product Activated dialog box will open. Click OK and use Microsoft Office 2016 without any restraints.

Microsoft Office 2016 activated

How to Activate Microsoft Office 2016 without a Product Key?

If you do not have a product key, the process is different and can be a little lengthy. Let's explore different ways users can activate Microsoft Office 2016 without a product key.

Method 1: Using KMS client key

Let's explore the first method, utilizing KMS Client Key, a secure and reliable approach to activate Microsoft Office 2016 without a product key:

Step 1: Download and install Microsoft Office 2016 from the official website for a secure and authentic copy, reducing the risk of fraud and viruses.

Step 2: After installing Office 2016, acquire the crucial KMS Host Key. Obtain it through direct communication with a Microsoft representative or access the Microsoft Volume License Service Center.

Microsoft Office Volume license pack 2016 download

Step 3: Access Command Prompt using Windows search, ensuring to right-click and choose "Run as Administrator" to prevent activation issues.

Open Command Prompt

Step 4: Configure KMS using a simple command prompt:

cscript C:\Windows\System32\slmgr.vbs /ipk

Command Prompt KMS Key installation

Note: Replace ""with the obtained KMS key.

Step 5: Activate the installed KMS key with the command:

cscript C:\Windows\System32\slmgr.vbs /ato

Step 6: Configure the KMS host for Office activation with the command:

cscript C:\Windows\System32\slmgr.vbs /skms:

Note: Replace ""with your host name or IP address.

Step 7: Compel Office activation via the KMS server using the command:

cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /sethst:

Note: Replace ""with your unique hostname or IP.

Step 8: Run the provided code for Microsoft Office 2016 activation:

cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /act

Method 2: Using Command Prompt

If you're comfortable using the Command Prompt, this method might be more suitable for you.

Step 1: Open your Windows search and look for Command Prompt.

Step 2: Right-click and select "Run as Administrator" because you will need administrative permissions.

Windows open Command Prompt

Step 3: Move to the directory where Office is installed by using the proper command. For instance, if Office is in the default directory, type:

cd C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16

Command Prompt open Office 2016 directory

Step 4: Input the activation command:

cscript ospp.vbs /inpkey:

Command Prompt input activation command

Command Prompt input activation command

Note: Don't forget to replace ""with your KMS key while following the steps.

Step 5: Hit Enter to run the command and activate Office 2016.

Step 6: To implement the changes, restart your computer.

Method 3: Using Microsoft Toolkit

Microsoft Toolkit presents another efficient solution for activating Office 2016. Follow these steps to activate Microsoft Office 2016 using Microsoft Toolkit:

Step 1: Start by launching your web browser and download Microsoft Toolkit V2.6.4 from a trusted source.

Step 2: Once the download is complete, extract the software to your preferred location on your PC, then install and run the application.

 Windows Toolkit

Windows Toolkit

Step 3: For MS Office activation, click on the Office icon to access the Office 2016 activation window.

Step 4: Within the toolkit office window, navigate to the “Activation” tab, then click “Activate” and wait for a few moments.

Windows Toolkit activate Office 2016

Windows Toolkit activate Office 2016

Step 5: Upon completion, a message on the black screen will confirm the activation of your Windows.

 Windows Toolkit Office 2016 activated

Windows Toolkit Office 2016 activated

Note: Before commencing the activation process, disable Windows Defender or any other antivirus software.


When to use

Using KMS Client Key

For a secure and reliable activation process.

Using Command Prompt

If you are comfortable with Command Prompt and prefer a straightforward method.

Using Microsoft Toolkit

A convenient option for those seeking an alternative activation method.

 Microsoft Office 2016 activation method comparison

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 WPS Office open file

WPS Office open file

Step 3: You can now make any required changes to the contents of the file.

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WPS Office save file

WPS Office save file

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WPS PDF Edit tab

WPS PDF Edit tab

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 WPS PDF Fill & Sign

WPS PDF Fill & Sign

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Q1. Is it legal to activate Microsoft Office 2016 without a product key?

Activating Office 2016 without a valid product key is technically feasible. However, it's crucial to emphasize that using unauthorized methods goes against ethical standards. Participation in software piracy or pirated software is illegal and against principles of morality. Therefore, it is advised to choose authentic software and acquire valid product keys to ensure legal and ethical utilization.

Q2. Why might Microsoft Office 2016 show an "Unlicensed Product" status?

The occurrence of an "Unlicensed Product" status can be attributed to factors such as an expired subscription, expiration of the license, or issues with account verification.

Q3. Does having an old Office 2016 version create activation troubles?

Using an outdated Office 2016 version can lead to activation troubles. Ensure your Office is updated by checking for updates in the application, preventing issues during activation.

Transition from MS Office to WPS Office Today

While the 2016 version of Microsoft Office may pique your interest, encountering issues such as one where Office 2016 won't activate and it can be frustrating and may persist in the future. Instead of grappling with these ongoing challenges, consider transitioning from Microsoft Office to WPS Office. This transition offers unparalleled ease, seamlessly integrating into your digital life with its user-friendly interface and comprehensive feature set. From essential functionalities to streamlined collaboration and sharing capabilities, WPS Office delivers everything you'd expect from Microsoft Office and more.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.