Tip of the Week 3 – Converting Server Eval to full version

NOTE: You will require a valid Windows Server product key for this to work, this is in no way intended as a workaround to legitimate licensing.

Sometimes when just messing around with an idea or trying to prove a concept out you may find yourself quickly downloading an ISO from Microsoft for whatever OS version you’re testing on. Perhaps you haven’t got access to your usual ISO library or forgot credentials for your Volume Licensing portal etc.

The only issue with the TechNet downloads is that they are Evaluation editions, this means that within a certain number of days (usually 60 or 180 depending on version) you will not be licensed, activated or legit… slight problem here is that within 180 days you’ve probably built your best dev/test platform in years and don’t want to lose it, in fact you want to move it to your production servers, keeping it and maintaining it for eternity. Do you build a new VM with the proper ISO and Product key?

The answer is no, just upgrade your edition.

A while ago now, Microsoft introduced DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool) – a handy suite of command line tools for managing such situations. So how do I convert from evaluation to Server Standard or Datacenter editions, and what versions of Windows Server does this work with?

  1. Open Command Prompt as Administrator
  2. Open PowerShell as Administrator – it’s the 21st Century
  3. Run the following command:

    dism /Online /Get-CurrentEdition

  4. The image above shows I’m running Version 10 (Server 2016) and I’m on a Server Standard license, therefore not Eval. However if you were on an Evaluation license it would say ServerStandardEval
  5. In order to upgrade the license to a full version, or to go from Server Standard to Datacenter edition you can run the following:

    DISM /online /Set-Edition:<edition ID> /ProductKey:XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX /AcceptEula

    The <edition ID> will be either ServerStandard or ServerDatacenter

  6. The ProductKey is the bit unique to you/ your company, however, if you use KMS keys you can obtain these from the following page: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/get-started/kmsclientkeys – I won’t go into the KMS vs. MAK conversation here but feel free to Google it to work out which you have/need.
  7. Here’s an example I ran using a KMS key:

    Note it removes the “package” of the one installed and replaces it with the one you’re putting in, A reboot will also be necessary.

For more info regarding DISM go here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/manufacture/desktop/what-is-dism

DISM has been around since Windows 7/ Server 2008 but it’s been most useful since 2012R2 onwards, I will be posting some additional DISM tips in the next post!