We have a licensed SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition instance, that for some reason keeps getting license expiration messages in Management Studio. Sometimes it gets this message:

Your Microsoft SQK Server Management Studio evaluation period has expired.

You can get a key to extend your trial by registering this copy of Microsoft Management Studio online. You may also purchase a key to activate the product.

Other times, it says a key has been entered:

A valid product key has been entered for Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio.

Still other times, SSMS just closes, prompting you to save files.

This machine has had various versions of Visual Studio installed and uninstalled by a developer who once had administrative rights, and I suspect that's what's got this all messed up. However, I've removed Visual Studio, and uninstalled SQL all the way to the ground, and re-installed, but the message doesn't go away.

Has anyone experienced this, and is it worth trying to fix? Or should I install on a new platform and migrate off this machine?

1 Answer 1


Just uninstall client tools completely, using Control Panel -> Programs and Features -> SQL Server 2012 -> Change. This should launch the setup program and allow you to uninstall the management tools. If the Control Panel method doesn't work, I have a more brute force way of doing it, just make sure you only remove those CLSIDs that relate to SSMS.

Then grab the Express edition of 2012 SP2 (x64 | x86), which has the same functionality as the version you had installed, but without the licensing and the expiration. For more details (or links to more modern versions of SSMS), see this answer.

There are more cumbersome workarounds listed here and here (yes, they say 2008, but they still apply). I think uninstall/reinstall is cleaner.

  • For sound I have a more brute force way of doing it. Sep 1, 2015 at 13:59
  • @MdHaidarAliKhan Not following, could you try again? Sep 1, 2015 at 14:04
  • And additionally, SSMS is now being released out-of-band, so you can just install the current release regardless of the licensing situation on the server. Unless you need the older versions for specific compatibility, that seems like the best choice going forward. Sep 1, 2015 at 14:55
  • I have already gone down the uninstall/reinstall road, several times. I've re-installed using our licensed version of Standard Edition, and with Express. I've even completely uninstalled SQL, rebooted, and re-installed. No joy. I'm becoming convinced that there's something whacked in the registry, and that I need to start over with a clean VM and move everything. Because of the registry is hosed, that could be causing some of my other multiple-personality-disorder problems (Jobs that work 3 times in a row, then say the Agent account doesn't have access, then work, then fail, etc.). Sep 1, 2015 at 17:36
  • 1
    This is a VM? Why haven't you just done that before all of this? I don't know if I believe "the registry is hosed" - you need to try the brute force method I posted if you're not willing to wipe the VM and start over. But I will say that Evaluation Edition is a royal pain in the rear. Never use that edition if you expect to keep the machine more than a couple of months. Sep 1, 2015 at 17:41

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