Upgrade Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Standard Version

Hi Experts

I need to upgrade the current server as described. Server is a DC.  If anyone can provide any suggestions, instructions or what to watch out for I'd appreciate it.

Many thanks in advance
Noel CleereAsked:
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Lee W, MVPConnect With a Mentor Technology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
This is not a version upgrade.   I loathe in place upgrades, but that's not what this is.  It is akin to adding roles and features.  Simply change the edition with DISM and the 2012 Standard Key.

Install the new key with DISM.

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj247582%28v=ws.11%29.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396

Remember, you now have to buy CALs - Essentials doesn't come with any!
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arnoldCommented:
IMHO, IN-place upgrades is a one way road to ...

Personally, I am opposed to such transitions in a server environment because of the many implications that a faliure impacts the entire environment.

See https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windowsserver/en-US/cc2473ea-0e54-4ef7-a2ac-a7171910ed69/windows-2012-essentials-upgrade-to-windows-2012-server-standarddataenterprise-?forum=winserveressentials
that includes links references to engage in the approach.
https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj247582.aspx potentially is the most useful

Do you have an option to setup an offline of your essential server where you can test your backup/restore.... of the existing server before attempting the transition..
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Noel CleereAuthor Commented:
Hi Arnold

Thank you for your solution.  I feel the same as you do about this.  It is a small company with 3 users.  They run Sage50  on the system and they back this up separately.  Restores of this package are tested and working.  They are using windows backup to backup their system.  backups are running ok but a restore has not been tested.  I don't have an offline option option so if you have any suggestions in this regard, I'd appreciate it.
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8046586Commented:
When you say upgrade, do you mean replacing the hardware (migration to standard) or migrating to Standard on to the same hardware?
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arnoldCommented:
You could try using a VM where you would setup a workstation with either vmware or virtualbox and as a VM build the essential server, make sure to configure the VM without a direct path to the LAN i.e NATED IP. Make sure the system on which you are testing this VM is not a domain member

This way you can try the disaster recovery bare-metal of the server backup to restore the VM.... and check whether the VM boots and functions...

What is the impetus to upgrade to a standard version in such a small environment?

Are there limits imposed or the issue you are running into is a software from a vendor and they contend that they do not support essential versions of OS?

Support by vendor is at times overrated, as it is at times difficult to expect that a vendor validate their software on all available platforms.
You seem to have the background where you  might consider testing, though the range of and other issue to which I am not privy might be what are taking you down the road to the OS upgrade from essential to Standard.
i.e. the risk and cost to validate the operations of the software with which you might be not so familiar and the lack of vendor support including cursory.
i..e have had experiences where the vendor says the setup you have is an untested by them (especially during the 32 to 64 bit transition) informing the tech that I was aware of the unsupported , they would often provide some insight on whose basis the issue can be addressed/resolved. such that copying some configfiles into c:\program files\ because the software was using hard references and was looking for files in the wrong place for a 32 bit application running on a 64bit OS)
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8046586Commented:
Noel, you have to explain your scenario and what you would like to achieve. It is very irresponsible giving you advice based on guesses.
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arnoldCommented:
Lee,

It is more a question of semantic' in effect it is an upgrade, the process might be different from before, the risk us refused.

Some essentials purchased  include Cals, ..

The essentials transition to standard negates done, adds other features

Potentially in a similar fashion as a workstation, Windows 7,8,10 can in place transition from a start, to a hone or pro version buying an upgrade license at which point the system will get the .... From and transition to the higher level version.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
First, I didn't say it was the SAME as adding roles and features.  I said it was akin - similar to - that process.  Have you ever done that process?  I have.  Though I don't recall the last time, I've also used the DISM tool to convert editions from several versions including less than a year ago.

No Essentials license comes with CALs.  Essentials is a product that does not use CALs.  It allows a MAXIMUM of 25 users/50 devices.  Period.
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arnoldCommented:
Lee,

I think we are going on a tangent, but akin, similar and a semantic distinction are as we both agree that in-place transitions such as this on a server platform ..... is not desired

I.e. a person modifies anything from what it is. no matter the means, it could be counted or referred to as an upgrade without regard whether the change is functional or aesthetic.

not sure how a transition from an essential to Standard could not be interpreted and referred to as an upgrade of the version?
change one level up.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
You used to have to reinstall on top of the old OS. But with 2008 / 2012 / 2016 and DISM, you just enter the key and it alters the edition.  The same procedure is used to upgrade from Standard to Data Center or from a Trial to a full version.  You're not changing bits - your adding features/capabilities and in some cases (essentials) removing limitations.  This is different than an upgrade.  And upgrade could find mismatched DLLs, registry keys that were necessary for one version but no longer for the new.  Not the same with an Edition change.  You're not risking putting old binaries in place of a recent patch or set of patches that could cause issues...
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arnoldCommented:
Agree, while the idea is that the transition should be seamless, there are outliers that could cause an issue, thus, MS's own recommendation that one backup the server prior to making such an attempt.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I would never recommend any change without a backup.  Even monthly patching... I may occasionally assume it's being done, but if history has taught us anything, it's that backups are vital for bad patches, virus infections, hardware failures, etc.
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arnoldCommented:
Agree again, especially verified backups where the person stating that they have made backups, also says that they tested and at least were able to "view" the contents of the backup (list table of contents from the backup) if not outright restored a single file from it as a way to confirm that the backup tool works as intended. versus a backup file reflecting a large amount of data but was aborted.interrupted and is a useless chunk.....
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Noel CleereAuthor Commented:
Hi All
Thank you for your contributions. The sole purpose of  moving from Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 Standard is a Sage upgrade requirement.  I appreciate your points.  This is more akin to a transition to Standard from Essentials rather than an "upgrade".
 
The version of Sage they wish to run will only run on Standard and will not run on Essentials hence the reason for the change.
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Noel CleereAuthor Commented:
The transition is on the SAME hardware
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
So... create backups first (ALWAYS create backups first) and use DISM to change the edition and enter the new key.
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arnoldCommented:
Double check to make sure whether it will run on a dc, have seen software that will not install/run on a DC.
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Noel CleereAuthor Commented:
Worked a treat.  Thank you to everyone for their comments
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