Upgrade Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard

There is no direct upgrade path from Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard. These are the steps I performed as a workaround:

Transition to Windows Server 2012 Standard

Open Windows PowerShell as Administrator, and then run the following command.

dism /online /set-edition:ServerStandard /accepteula /productkey:Product Key

Where Product Key is the product key for your copy of Windows Server 2012 Standard.

The server restarts to finish the transition process.

Upgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2

  1. Mount the Windows Server 2012 R2 media and follow the wizard.

Install the Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Experience Role

  1. Open Server Manager on your server
  2. Select Dashboard on the left hand navigation bar
  3. Click the Add Roles and Features link
  4. In the Add Roles Features Wizard, review the before you begin message and click Next
  5. On Installation Type verify Role-based or Feature-based installation is selected and click Next
  6. On Server Selection Screen, select the server you wish to install the Essentials Experience on and click Next
  7. On Server Roles select Windows Server Essentials Experience.  You may be prompted to add additional features for the Windows Server Essentials Experience,  review the additions and click Add Features:
    imageNotice: The Essentials experience will also install the Web Server Role, After you have added roles and features click Next:
  8. On Features, review the selections and Click Next
  9. On Window Server Essentials Experience, review the message and click Nextimage
  10. On Web Server Role (IIS) review the message and click Next
  11. On Role and Services, review the selections and click Next.
  12. On Confirmation review the installation and click Install
  13. On Results, verify the installation was successful and click Close.
  14. You will be returned to Server Manager, and in the upper left hand portion of the Window click on the notification flag.
  15. Click on Configure Windows Server Essentials
  16. On Configure Windows Server Essentials welcome page review the message and click Next
  17. On Company information fill in your Company name and Domain name and click Next
  18. On Create a network administrator account, type in the information for your administrator account and click Configure.   The configuration process may take up to 30 minutes and your server will reboot, so go get your favorite beverage and relax.
  19. After server reboots you will see the Results, verify the installation was successful and click Close.  Also close server manager.

6 thoughts to “Upgrade Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard”

  1. I am thinking about heading this direction since I would like to take advantage of the R2 features of Server 2012 on my 2012 Essentials server. When you enable the Server Essentials Experience Role on Standard 2012 R2, does it make the server act like Essentials again, whereby you have to connect the client computers via the Connector software or can computers be joined just by changing the domain info? Trying to weigh the pros and cons of doing an in place migration to get to 2012 R2. Just wish you could have did an in place upgrade from 2012 Essentials to 2012 Essentials R2. What are your thoughts? Was it worthwhile to do this upgrade path? Any issues you have ran into since upgrading to 2012 Standard R2? Just don’t have the time, energy or hardware to build a replica domain to migrate everything over.

    1. Hi Dan, when you enable the role it doesn’t limit the functionality to just essentials. You can still join client computers to the domain as usual.

      I didn’t run into any issues but I’m no longer running essentials and just have a 2012 R2 Standard domain.

  2. Ok cool. I’ll give it a try upgrading my Essentials to Standard R2 via your instructions. I just didn’t want to run into any unforeseen issues. Hopefully it goes as smooth for me as it did for you.

    Thanks again!

  3. Thanks for your article. I would like to keep essentials as is and just have the option to register more than 25 users. Can I just upgrade the license with the command dism /online /set-edition:ServerStandard /accepteula /productkey:Product Key and not installing anything from the Standard install media?


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