Windows Server 2012 Evaluation – convert & activate to fully licensed

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 :)

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

    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?

  1. 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.

  2. 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


    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.

      Let me know the outcome!

      Cheers :-)

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

  4. 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 :-)

  5. 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.

  6. 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….

  7. 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! :-)

  8. 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:

    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 :-)

  9. 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.


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

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