Windows Server 2012 Evaluation – convert & activate to fully licensed

Update:¬†¬† This post was made in 2013 (5 years ago at time of writing). It’s clear from the many comments it sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, and I suspect Microsoft may have broken it with various different install builds, or it just didn’t work with certain releases and configurations. Most recently, I installed a full copy of Win 2012 on a new server (using official Open License ISO media), it didn’t ask me for a license code on install, and then when I tried to use the below method (post install) it wouldn’t work – thanks MS!

I believe I found that using the following command  from the cmd prompt did the trick:

slmgr -ipk

It allowed me to replace the 25 digit generic / trial code MS had installed the OS with with my proper license key. If you type in the above and hit enter, it should give you all the available parameters to try and achieve what you want. No idea if it will let you apply an OEM or retail key to an Open License install, etc! Good luck :-)

———————————————

So I’m at the end of the trial period for Windows Server 2012, and having a bought a volume license for the Data Center edition, I need to activate it. Microsoft have taken away the ability to alter product keys through Control Panel -> System so we have to use the command line.

I’ve read a lot of articles out there on this, which generally don’t work, presenting an error when you try and process your new key using the slmgr command line tool.

First of all, you need to establish your exact currently installed version. From a elevated command prompt, run the following command:

DISM /online /Get-CurrentEdition

In amongst the blurb that appears on screen, it will tell you your current edition (in my case ServerDatacenterEval). Make a note of this – you will use in the next command with the last ‘Eval’ bit ommitted.

With your license key to hand, now run following command:

DISM /online /Set-Edition:ServerDatacenter /ProductKey:XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX /AcceptEula

The above unboldened / italicised entries will need to be your own specific variables (remember to drop the ‘Eval’ bit for the Set-Edition). I believe, you can also use this as an opportunity to upgrade to a higher edition, for example using the /Set-Edition switch to go from Standard up to Datacenter. The /AcceptEula switch allows the system to silently accept the Microsoft license agreement.

When you run this command, your system will need to restart 1 or 2 times. Thereafter (if it doesn’t happen automatically) you will be able to activate with your newly provided key from Control Panel -> System or using the slmgr tool, and you will now be running your licensed copy :)

45 thoughts on “Windows Server 2012 Evaluation – convert & activate to fully licensed”

  1. Have you been able update this datacenter conversion since you converted from the eval?

    1. If you mean Windows Updates, these have indeed been working a charm since I completed the conversion earlier in the year. Have you had problems running Windows Updates post evaluation conversion?

  2. Not working pal, When I am trying to do this on Windows 8 Enterprise Evaluation it shows ‘error 50’ .

    1. The clue’s in my title post – this is for Windows Server 2012, not Windows 8, certainly not Win 8 Enterprise trial!….. :-)

      I have not used the Win 8 Enterprise evaluation, but I have in the past used the trial for Win 7 Enterprise. The rules back then were that the trial would work for 90 days as standard, and there was no way of licensing it. The only way to put it in to production was to do a clean install once you had your license keys from MS. I would guess it is a similar policy with Windows 8 Enterprise trial, so I’m afraid you will probably need to do a full reinstall. Otherwise, call Microsoft licensing, and they may be able to help you.

  3. Hi, i get the following error msg.

    Error 50
    Changing this windows edition is not supported online for a domain controller.

    Here is what i typed.

    DSIM /online /SetEdition:ServerStandard /ProductKey:*** /AcceptEula

    Help!

    1. Hi there.

      It’s a year since I last did this, so I’m scratching my head to remember what I did to license the DCs. Are you trying to switch down a version, i.e. you’ve been running the Datacenter trial, and you’re needing to to apply a license for Standard? That’s one rough idea, as this would likely cause some problems…. Otherwise, you could temporarily setup more DCs based on the trial version (or if you already have multiple DCs, do the following one at a time), subsequently demote the AD DC role on the servers you want to license, apply the key change, then promote them to being DCs again. This might be what I had to do a year ago – my memory fails me!

      This article may be a little help – implication is it’s ok with DC license changes, but then Googling the problem it appears you’re not alone. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj574204.aspx

      Let me know the outcome!

      Cheers :-)

  4. Thank You for your Article its working for me. I have a server 2012 standard edition. Thanks again

    1. Hi,

      I have similar issues where my windows server is a standard evaluation and I need to convert to full license. I am commenting because you confirmed that this process worked for you.

      Can inform me though how to buy valid keys that will work for standard evaluation?

      Thanks

      Frank

  5. Hey man, i’ve just downloaded the windows evaluation ISO now i was wondering if I could use my full version product key i got from dreamspark to convert the evaluation copy to a full version copy.

    1. I wouldn’t know for sure, but I would assume you probably can. Fundamentally, give it a try – the worse that will happen is your remaining days of trial may get zeroed, so just keep this in mind. Best of luck with that – maybe feedback if it worked or not! Cheers :-)

  6. We have the Eval installed and have an OEM/ROK licence key. It looks like we’re unable to activate as you can only use that command to go from Eval -> VLK / Retail licence keys.

    1. Well, in reply to that.. I went stuff it and gave it a try and it worked, even for an OEM key. Brilliant, thanks!

      1. Great stuff – well done on being bold and it paying off! :-) Thanks for sharing the result back on here.

  7. i am getting error like:

    Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
    Version: 6.2.9200.16384

    Image Version: 6.2.9200.16384

    Error: 87

    The /AcceptEula or /GetEula options must be specified with the /Set-Edition option online.
    Run the command again and include the required parameter.

    The DISM log file can be found at C:\Windows\Logs\DISM\dism.log

    can someone help me on this

    1. Have you made sure you have the /AcceptEula switch at the end of the command? Without this, the Eula confirmation is rejected, causing the command to fail….

  8. Thanks man this was a life saver!! I was typing everything I found on Technet to not have to re-install the OS!! A co-worker of mine installed the Eval instead of the Full VL we had. I did notice that it didn’t work for me in CMD so I transitioned over to PS and it worked like a charm.

    Well Done!!

    1. Many thanks for the feedback, really glad it worked for you :-) Perhaps it didn’t work from command line due to not having elevated rights? I think PowerShell automatically loads with these rights. Either way, glad to help, cheers! :-)

  9. This worked fine for me, I needed to turn my evaluation server into a live host. We use KMS licensing so I applied the proper server type and added the KMS Client key as follows:
    DISM /online /Set-Edition:ServerStandard /ProductKey:D2N9P-3P6X9-2R39C-7RTCD-MDVJX /AcceptEula
    All product keys can be found here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj612867.aspx

    Thanks for the helpful info!

    1. Hi Mark – glad to have helped! Thanks for the addition of KMS keys link – that might help someone out. Cheers :-)

  10. Just wanted to leave a quick note to further reiterate the fact this thread SAVES LIVES!

    I recently deployed not one, but TWO installations of Server 2012 R2 build 9600 that came with the usual trial period. I also went ahead and setup AD DS and various other services required under the impression that I simply needed to purchase and activate the installation and all would be good. I purchased two OEM Server 2012 R2 licenses along with 5 pack CALS not realizing that OEM keys will not activate on evaluation editions…..and that’s where this thread came in. It took some work, but I was able to get the servers activated safely without having to worry about a dreaded reinstall/setup.

    For anyone else in my situation, all you have to do is deploy ANOTHER Server 2012 R2 with AD DS, demote the server with the evaluation copy that you wish to activate, use the above commands to activate the license, then promote the server back to a DC again and voila…! You could also just avoid that mess altogether and activate your key BEFORE you install AD DS.

    ONCE AGAIN….this -WILL- work….even if you have an evaluation copy and OEM key like I had!

  11. Thanks for the article! This saved me a lot of time; I was able to convert Windows 2012 Server R2 Standard Eval to Standard, and then activate with an MSDN key.

    Perfect!

  12. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    I have quick solve my problem with your post.
    I pray that your God will keep always healthy
    Genky

  13. Thank you very much, it works great!
    It converted Windows 2012 Server R2 Standard Eval to Standard

  14. Hi I activated my Server 2012 Standard R2 with no issues. Thanks a bunch!

    Emman

  15. I remember doing this on some DC in virtualization and it worked. But it is now failing

  16. Hi,

    Our customer was trying to activate a Windows 2012 R2 Std Ed Evaluation using OEM keys. They have Internet connection and used the following commands:

    > DISM /online /Get-CurrentEdition

    > DISM /online /Set-Edition:ServerStandard /ProductKey:xxxxx-xxxxx-XXXXX-xxxxx-xxxxx /AcceptEula

    The activation failed with ‘error 87’ ERROR_INVALID_PARAMETER. They rang Microsoft who told them they can only use the OEM keys on new build so they can’t use it to activate Eval copies.

    Anyone every heard of this before?

    Thanks,

    PaulF

  17. Worked Like a CHARM!!!

    Had a LENOVO ROK and media was damaged. So LENOVO support said download the 2012r2 Trial. Deployed it as my VM instance with 180 days. Needless to say next time I buy a server for a client no mor OEM or ROK going to be Microsoft Open License all the way.

    Came across this stale post and followed the instructions and worked like a charm.

    OXY MORON: Microsoft Works

    Thanks for the info and Merry Xmas

  18. Greetings all!

    This post was made in 2013 (5 years ago at time of writing). It’s clear from the many comments it sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, and I suspect Microsoft may have broken it with various different install builds, or it just didn’t work with certain releases and configurations. Most recently, I installed a full copy of Win 2012 on a new server (using official Open License ISO media), it didn’t ask me for a license code on install, and then when I tried to use the below method (post install) it wouldn’t work – thanks MS!

    I believe I found that using the following command from the cmd prompt did the trick:

    slmgr -ipk

    It allowed me to replace the 25 digit generic / trial code MS had installed the OS with with my proper license key. If you type in the above and hit enter, it should give you all the available parameters to try and achieve what you want. No idea if it will let you apply an OEM or retail key to an Open License install, etc! Good luck :-)

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