Office 2016 claims to need activation

This is what I am greeted with every time any office application is opened.  However, Office has already been activated.  How do I know?  There is another version of Office 2016 that apparently came with this Dell computer.  Not Office 365; that would show up under "Programs & Features" in the control panel.  This version was under the "Apps & Features" inside of the settings menu, and it was called "Microsoft Office Desktop Apps".  I did not notice this was already installed when the company first received the computer.  Microsoft Office Standard 2016 was then installed on top of whatever version of Office came with the computer.  Upon first installing Standard office 2016 I am able to successfully enter the activation code.  However, upon logging in the following day this message appears.  Entering an activation code does not seem to work.  A yellow message bar appears at the top near the various toolbars claiming that whatever office program I happen to be using isn't activated.

Nothing I've been able to find about changing registry keys worked as the OEM registry key did not exist on this machine.

Since this computer is joined to a domain, I decided to log into another account.  Lo and behold, "Microsoft Office Desktop Apps" is listed under Apps & Features.  It would seem that this version of Office was never truly uninstalled.  I feel certain this issue arises from multiple versions of office installed on the same machine.

I am out of ideas as to what I can possibly do to solve this issue.

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Any updates on this ? we are experiencing the same issue on our computers. We can uninstall the microsoft office from windows store but we log in as another user and it comes back. We have a fully licensed version installed along side it.

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From what I can tell, this has to be done every time someone else logs onto the computer.  We didn't have Access as part of our package, so that was why we kept getting the activation message.  I've been running into this on every computer we've been receiving since the beginning of the new year.   They used to come with Office 365 pre-installed, but now I believe that  has been replaced with Office Standard 2016.  Since this is not actually installed offline, this will pop back up every time someone logs in for the first time.  We tried simply uninstalling Access, but that wasn't enough since Access kept coming back on it's own.  Once the activation message appears it will not disappear unless we re-install office.  We haven't seen this message in a long time now at least since only one person uses each of the new computers here.

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this is exactly what we are experiencing. Microsoft is there any fix to this? Why does office come automatically installed on Windows 10 (each computer and each user).

We've had luck running the following powershell commands to remove the windows store office packages.  We really do not want to run this script on each user on each login

Get-AppxPackage *MicrosoftOfficeHub* | Remove-AppxPackage

Get-AppxPackage *Microsoft.Office.Desktop* | Remove-AppxPackage

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I'm having the same issue at my company for any computers arriving from our OEM.  Reimage doesn't work, reset install doesn't work, nothing.  I made sure to uninstall the "Microsoft Office Desktop Apps" UWP app for all users using the below powershell command:

$packages = @(
"Microsoft.Office.Desktop"
)

ForEach ($packages in $packages) {
Get-AppxPackage -Name $packages -AllUsers | Remove-AppxPackage

Get-AppXProvisionedPackage -Online |
where DisplayName -EQ $packages |
Remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -Online
}

The above powershell commands should uninstall the package for all users as well as remove the package from being installed for new users (provisioned packages). 

HOWEVER, that didn't appear to fix the issue; I think the presence of trial software may be a red herring and the problem may be as simple as a bad KB update package coming through WSUS.  I notice that the problem reoccurs only after running windows update; prior to that the office products will stay licensed indefinitely.  I'm guessing that some specific update for office is causing this recent (Jan-Feb) behavior and removing it (and blacklisting in WSUS) will probably be the fix.  I just don't know which update is to blame. 

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We were having the same issue with the activation window popping up after installing updates. I found the issue to be the trial product key being installed on the computer. The process of uninstalling it from the windows store doesn't actually remove this product key.

You can find the installed office product keys by opening command prompt and running: 

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

We were seeing an entry for "Office16O365HomePremR_Grace edition" with a key ending in KHGM9

We removed this key by running the following command:

cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /unpkey:KHGM9

We are no longer getting any prompts for activation!

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Thanks jreynolds, I think you might be right on the money with this fix.  I ran the same commands you did (I had to substitute "Programs (x86)" for my 32-bit install) and it displayed two keys as well: our company licensed key and the same trial key ending in KHGM9 with one day active.  I've uninstalled the KHGM9 per your advice and I'm going to see if the issue redevelops. 

Seems like it might not be WSUS related at all either! 

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I'm guessing that you also installed a volume license version of office on top of this trial version of office?

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Yes we installed volume license versions of office 2016.

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We did as well.  We're very good about checking for trial versions and removing them prior to attaching the computer to the domain, but Microsoft is making it harder and harder to remove.  As you mentioned, this trial version is preloaded as a UWP app and will reinstall itself for each new profile.  Removing the appxpackage through powershell doesn't do much unless you also remove the appxprovisionedpackage (the installer) so that it doesn't add itself back in for new users:

$packages = @(
"Microsoft.Office.Desktop"
)

ForEach ($packages in $packages) {
Get-AppxPackage -Name $packages -AllUsers | Remove-AppxPackage

Get-AppXProvisionedPackage -Online |
where DisplayName -EQ $packages |
Remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -Online
}

Even doing that, the product key somehow stays behind and active - as jreynolds pointed out - and can screw up your volume license activation. 

To list active keys:

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

cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /dstatus

Remove any key that lists itself as a trial or "grace" license (ours ended in KHGM9):

cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /unpkey:KHGM9


cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /unpkey:KHGM9

Microsoft knew nothing about this issue and transferred me to six different techs before finally disconnecting me.  I'm glad that the knowledgeable folk here were able to suss out a fix.  Thank you everyone for your help!

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I went round and round with a client's computers with this very issue. This discussion and the solution described (ospp.vbs /upnkey:XXXXX) was right on the money. 

I find it very odd that running the installer for Office Standard 2016 does not detect the OEM installation on Windows 10 and present options for removing, upgrading, or changing the licensing method.

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Last updated June 4, 2021 Views 28,483 Applies to: