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Change Windows 2012 (DC) Eval version to retail version

Posted on 2015-02-15
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2015-02-18
I have a WIndows 2012 server with ADDS, FAX server, File server, DNS role and the server is running in Eval mode. When I called Microsoft to buy retail version they said I have to reinstall Windows 2012.

Would it be possible to transfer FSMO role temporarily to X86 architecture Win 2003 server. Demote main server cleanup metadata and reinstall service and transfer back to main server? If role transfer is not an option between X86 and 64 bit, then I am thinking about -

Installing Hyperv on existing Eval server.
Create Virtual machine with another eval version of 2012 on expiring host.
Install ADDS / DNS on guest VM.
Transfer all FSMO roles.
Remove ADDS and  DNS on host machine.
clean up metadata from ADSS, DNS, ADDS.
Not sure, if I need to unjoin or rejoin to the host to domain If it would be able to autheticate to guest DC to join back.
If not just install license with DISM command.
Reinstall all roles and transfer it back again and decomission guest VM after removing roles from guest VM.

Appreciate your help and suggestion.

Question by:pchettri
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LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 40611694
No sorry, you have to reinstall Windows 2012.
LVL 49

Expert Comment

ID: 40611695
Have a read of this article

Note if it is a Domain Controller you can't convert to retail but they show a workaround.
LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 40611696
That's correct, you can't convert an evaluation version of Windows 2012 to a retail version if the server is a Domain Controller. If you had set up the new 2012 server as a regular member server then you would have been able to convert it to a retail version without any hassles.

You shouldn't have any issues transferring the FSMO roles back to a 2003 32-bit DC if you still have one in your environment.

You should be able to use the below process:
- Transfer any FSMO roles to another DC in your environment
- Demote your 2012 DC
- Upgrade from the evaluation version to a full retail version using the DISM /online /Set-Edition:<edition ID> /ProductKey:XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX /AcceptEULA command
- Promote your 2012 server to a DC again
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Author Comment

ID: 40611727
Would it work creating hyper-v guest on same machine to install an eval version temporarily and then transfer the role Or Do you recommend another physical server (with eval version)  for temporary transfer or role?

Author Comment

ID: 40611732
Please ignore the previous question, if transfer to 32 bit would work temporarily. The only reason I do not want to take the route of re-installation is I do not want to take a risk of loosing file server role as they have to lot of file sharing and storage on the new server. Transferring FSMO role and removing ADDS makes more sense then removing reinstalling.

I have seen that article about removing ADDS and changing license but none of the article from Microsoft. I guess I MS would not vouch on possible but complex route to get into support hassle unnecessary during sale pre-sale process or they are trying to discourage usage of eval on production.

For now the easier option would be take virtual conversion of both system and test in on home?

BTW "VB ITS2" what is your advise on installing hyper-v and temporarily transferring role on guest VM or you would rather recommend Windows 2003 32 bit physical server for transfer of role.
LVL 24

Accepted Solution

VB ITS earned 2000 total points
ID: 40611783
Installing the Hyper-V role on a domain controller isn't recommended nor do I believe it's supported by Microsoft (though I stand to be corrected). What you can look at doing instead is install the Hyper-V role on your existing server, create a new Server 2012 VM, promote it to a domain controller, demote your current physical 2012 Domain Controller, then keep the 2012 VM as your permanent domain controller for your environment.

You can then create a second 2012 Hyper-V VM, install the File Services role, then transfer your files to this new VM.

A single Windows Server 2012 Standard license actually allows you to run two virtual instances of Server 2012, providing you do not install any other role on the Hyper-V host itself, not even backup software. You can verify this by reading this licensing brief from Microsoft:

A quick Google will also confirm this along with a number of other experts on here.

Author Comment

ID: 40612402
That looks like most feasible option. But the only conundrum is the application of license.
1) I will install a hyperV guest VM with retail license and install ADDS and transfer role. For file server role I may have to enable pass-through disk  to map E drive directly to guest VM and share existing share folders instead any migration tool or robocopy.
2) The host machine which has been stripped out of VM needs to assigned the same license on the hyper-V guest. Would it accept the retail license, if it is applied to it's own guest first. If the host keeps rebooting with license failure then no guest would run.

To sum up I would like to get clarity about order or licensing and the possibility of pass-through disk for file server.
LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 40613313
Sorry pchettri, just getting round to replying to my open questions now.

Licensing-wise your proposal to use a pass-through disk should be perfectly fine with the single CD key, however you really should speak to your local certified Microsoft Partner to get an authoritative answer. Licensing queries answered on EE should be taken with a grain of salt as Microsoft's licensing world can be very complex.

I hope this helps, and good luck with your project.

Author Comment

ID: 40613349
Thanks for the answer... however, one last question I have is the netlogin and DNS.

If all the DC roles are on guest and the host is stripped off the ADDS. Does not make sense to unjoin and rejoin the host as member server after cleaning metadata. Now if I make it a member server and the guest is DC, it would be chicken and egg situation as it wont find DC for login services after reboot.
Is it going find all services after guest machine gets restarted? Or would you recommend only removing ADDS and clean up entry from DNS but not cleanup metadata?
LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 40613361
Once you have demoted the server it becomes a regular member server, there's no need to rejoin it to the domain.
Now if I make it a member server and the guest is DC, it would be chicken and egg situation as it wont find DC for login services after reboot.
You get around this by configuring the DC VM to always start with the host. This can be done by going into the VM's Settings and then setting the Automatic Start Action setting to Always start this virtual machine automatically.
VM-AutoStart.pngOf course you don't actually need to join the host to domain if you don't want to. It's only beneficial to join the host to the domain for remote management purposes really, and perhaps to also take advantage of Group Policy to apply security policies, etc.

When you safely demote a domain controller you shouldn't need to do a metadata cleanup to be honest.

If you have any other questions then you might want to open another question so you can get more input from other experts. The more opinions the better I say!

Author Comment

ID: 40616752
Thanks for detail information.I tested on lab and it worked. But for production that host server has file server and fax server. Fax USB modem are connected to physical server, this i doubt how it is going to work on guest VM. My best bet would be transfer ADDS and all roles back to main server after fixing license issue and I would not lose any functions on  main server and I dont have to worry about license hassles

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