Can I set up 2012 R2 server as a DC but install 2008 AD on it?

I'm upgrading my current Win 2003 domain level to 2012 R2. I was told I cannot upgrade from Win 2003 domain directly to 2012 R2. I'm wondering if I can set up the AD server with 2012 R2 first, and then upgrade the AD level to 2008, and then to 2012 R2. Can you provide some guidelines for the upgrade please?
CastlewoodAsked:
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Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
I was told I cannot upgrade from Win 2003 domain directly to 2012 R2.

in-place upgrade, no
a 2012 R2 domain controller can co-exist with a 2003 domain controller as long as the domain/forest functional level is 2003

if I can set up the AD server with 2012 R2 first, and then upgrade the AD level to 2008

you can install a 2012 R2 server in a 2003 domain
you can't raise the functional level to anything higher than your lowest windows version; in this case is 2003
CastlewoodAuthor Commented:
Thanks Seth.
Currently we have two Win 2003 DC servers. To upgrade to AD 2012, my idea is:
1. Add two more DC servers in Win 2012. So we have total four DC: two 2003 and two 2012. At this point, all four DC are in AD 2003 level.
2. Have them sync at least one day.
3. Demote the two 2013 DCs.
4. Raise AD level from 2003 to 2012.

Will the above work? Please advise if I miss anything?
Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
the steps are right
after making sure that the 2012 DCs are replicating ok, you should be good for that part

before you remove the 2003 servers though...
you also need to change clients on the network (static or dhcp) to use the 2012 servers for dns
also need to move dhcp (if using it on those 2003 DCs) to 2012
need to move fsmo roles to 2012 and make the server with the PDC emulator role the authoritative time server

Migrating DHCP from Server 2003 to Server 2012 R2
http://windowsitpro.com/windows-server-2003-end-support/migrating-dhcp-server-2003-server-2012-r2

Using Ntdsutil.exe to transfer or seize FSMO roles to a domain controller
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/255504

How to configure an authoritative time server in Windows Server
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/816042

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Before adding DCs - and AFTER adding DCs - I strongly recommend checking the health of AD by running DCDIAG /C /E /V and resolving any unexplained errors.
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