Office 2016 and licensing error 0x8004FC12

Several people on the TechNet forums (and other interwebz sites) have encountered error 0x8004FC12 with Office 2013, 2016 and even Windows. It seems most of these cases have gone unresolved or only gotten fixed by refreshing or reinstalling Windows. I recently found myself in the same boat. When I would try to activate Office 2016, I received the error:

“We’re sorry, something went wrong and we can’t do this for you right now. Please try again later. (0x8004FC12)”

The application event log had:

“Acquisition of End User License failed. hr=0x8004C12”.

… Pretty useless… I had reinstalled it a few times (preview builds and whatnot) without this issue not too long ago, and then tried it again with the RTM build of 2016 and that’s when I saw that error.

It seems this issue has been around since at least Office 2013 and it’s a common error code when activating Windows, too.

I tried all the suggestions I could find online but nothing worked. I then loaded up ProcMon.exe (Process Monitor, a freeware app by SysInternals) to watch all the I/O performed by Office during its attempt to activate…

How I fixed it…

The activation process seems to iterate through all the network adapters in the system registry before failing immediately after checking for a system proxy. I’m not sure what caused this to suddenly start happening, but unchecking the “Automatically Detect Settings” checkbox in the Proxy Settings under Internet Options fixed the problem for me.

This can be accomplished by following these steps:

  1. Open “Internet Options” (in the Control Panel or IE)

    Control Panel > Internet Options

  2. On the “Connections” tab, click the “LAN Settings” button

    Internet Properties: Connections tab

  3. Uncheck “Automatically Detect Settings” and click OK

    Disable Auto detect settings

  4. Try activating Office again

I have no idea why this works, and I’m not sure if it works for everyone.  It’s very possible that just clicking OK in the proxy settings, without actually changing anything, would fix the issue – but I’m just documenting the steps that I actually went through.

I suspect the MS Office activation process is just failing while parsing the network adapters from the registry. Clicking OK may re-save them to the registry and fix whatever issues they may have had (this is just speculation).

In case you continue to have problems, and my suggestion doesn’t fix it, I’ve listed several of the other suggestions I’ve read about (and tried).  None of them fixed my problems, but some people did seem to report success.

Still having problems? Some other things to try…

The following is a list of suggestions that I’ve compiled based on various forum posts by others on TechNet and other online communities. Some people reported success, but overall the majority did not. Regardless, it may be worth trying if you are experiencing this error:

  1. System File Checker: Open a command prompt with Admin privileges, and run the command sfc /scannow. This will take a few minutes to run, but will attempt to repair any corrupt system files.
  2. Office Online Repair: Go to “Programs and Features” and find Microsoft Office in the list.  Select the item, click the “Change” button, and choose Online Repair.
  3. Run a Windows cleanup tool like cleanmgr.exe (comes with Windows), CCleaner (third-party free), and/or manually cleaning the system TEMP folder (C:\Windows\Temp) and your user temp folder (%TEMP%).
  4. Cleanup old Office versions from the registry and filesystem.

    For reference, the versions of Office are:

    • Office 2016 – v16
    • Office 2013 – v15
    • Office 2010 – v14
    • Office 2007 – v12
    • Office 2003 – v11

    Cleanup the registry:

    1. Run regedit.exe to edit your registry
    2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Office
    3. Remove (or rename) any keys that reference an older version of Office.  For example, if you are using Office 2013 (v15), make sure you have no references to Office 2010 (v14).
    4. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office and repeat #2

    Cleanup the filesystem:

    1. Navigate to the current users roaming AppData folder by bringing up the Run dialog (WINDOWKEY+R), type %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Office, and press ENTER.
    2. If there are any older Office version folders in there, rename them.  For example, if you’re install Office 2016 (v16), rename any older folders to something else (ex: 15.0 rename to 15.OLD)
    3. Now do the same with the local AppData folder: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Office – and repeat step #2.

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