Windows Server Licensing

Denten McDougall
Denten McDougall used Ask the Experts™
We have an older server that we are using to evaluate some software we are looking to purchase.  I set it up with a Windows Server 2012 Standard R2 180 day trial for this evaluation.  that trial has since expired and I am trying to determine what me best course of action would be going forward.  My thought is that once we decide to move forward with this software that i will likely end up purchasing a new server for better performance so i am not sure what i should do? or even what i can do....

Obviously I could just buy a license for the 2012 R2 Standard, but what i am wondering is if its possible to purchase a 2016 license and activate it on a 2012 system?  and if so, could i then in the future potentially move this license to a new server with 2016 installed at some point down the road?


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Kyle AbrahamsSenior .Net Developer
From my understanding you can ONLY buy a 2016 license  (at least that what's my vendors have been telling me), but that license is reverse compatible.  If the license is OEM you're stuck on that one set of hardware but if you purchase it thru your volume licensing it should be transferable.
Senior Network Consultant / Engineer
If you haven't done this yet, you can extend the trial period (I think twice). From an admin prompt run:
slmgr.vbs -rearm

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As for the license, most versions you buy will come with downgrade rights. So if you get 2016 you can use it for 2012. Be sure to check the license before you purchase... I think partner license are the one ones that don't.


Thanks Guys.
Jeremy WeisingerSenior Network Consultant / Engineer

Glad to help. :)
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

To clarify, if you buy a VOLUME LICENSE for Windows 2016, you get keys and media download from the volume license service center (VLSC) and you can convert your trial (in most cases) to a full license using DISM (It's not JUST a new key that you have to enter - you need to change the edition and there are a few instances where you cannot convert a trial into a licensed version.

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