Windows Not Activating? Check the Time!

A lesson in not trying to do several things at once.

I had just deployed a VM from a template and waited for it to be customized. All was well until Windows tried, and failed, to activate giving the error code 80072f8f. This was in a new environment in a remote datacenter. Once I started paying attention though I noticed that the VM was set to synchronize time with the host and the host's NTP configuration had not been made correctly. The VM was running 6 months or so behind the current date.

The two takeaways from this are:

  1. Check your host configuration and don't assume that it's correct if you're provided with a pre-built host from a 3rd party
  2. Don't do too many things at once and forget about the above!