Upgrading other Windows Server editions to Data Center

The following tip was submitted by reader Quentin Gurney:

Super-Speedy In-Place Upgrade of Windows Server Standard to Enterprise or Data Center

Have you ever found yourself in a position where you need to do an upgrade from one Windows Server edition to another? For example, you want to install a 2008 R2 PKI server and realize you need the additional features that Enterprise gives?  Or maybe you want to switch from 2008 R2 Standard to 2008 R2 Datacenter because of the additional VM licensing that is included? These are not uncommon scenarios, and fortunately, there is a way to do this that can get you up and running within 10 minutes on your new O/S, all without having to mount an ISO, find a DVD or visit the machine.

How is that all done? Well that’s easy! There is a command included now in Windows that does it all for you using the Deployment Image Servicing and Management Tool or DISM.exe. With the way that Windows Server is distributed, multiple images are stored together in the image file and all we need to do is get DISM to do a bit of file swapping and we are done. Before we do that though, you must be aware that this is a one way process. You will not be able to downgrade. That means you could upgrade standard to enterprise or datacenter, but you would not be able to go the other way or “undo”.

Start with getting your current version:

C:\>dism /online /get-currentedition
Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 6.1.7600.16385
Image Version: 6.1.7600.16385
Current edition is:
Current Edition : ServerStandard
The operation completed successfully.

Then find out what editions are already stored on the machine:

C:\>dism /online /get-targeteditions
Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 6.1.7600.16385
Image Version: 6.1.7600.16385
Editions that can be upgraded to:
Target Edition : ServerDataCenter
Target Edition : ServerEnterprise
The operation completed successfully

Finally, get the version installed that you want, in this case, I want Enterprise instead of standard:

C:\>dism /online /set-edition:ServerEnterprise /productkey:XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 6.1.7600.16385
Image Version: 6.1.7600.16385
Starting to update components…
Starting to install product key…
Finished installing product key.
Removing package Microsoft-Windows-ServerStandardEdition~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~6.1.7601.17514
Finished updating components.
Starting to apply edition-specific settings…
Restart Windows to complete this operation.
Do you want to restart the computer now (Y/N)?

What is this business about with that product key? Every edition of Windows requires a product key. In this case, we are using a Key Management Server (KMS), so instead of inserting the generic KMS key for standard, we need to change that generic KMS key for Enterprise. You can get a list of the generic KMS keys from this page:

If you happen to be using MAK activation, then you will need to obtain a MAK key before you can do this. As you can see, the key gets verified before anything else gets done. You will need a different key because you had a key for a different edition, now you need the key for the edition you will be upgrading to.

So that’s all there is to it. No sticking disks into a drive, no ISO mounting, no onsite visits, just a couple of easy command lines and a cup of coffee and you are done. The process takes about 10 min on a reasonably decent machine, and will require at least 2 reboots.

The above tip was previously published in an issue of WServerNews, a weekly newsletter from TechGenix that focuses on the administration, management and security of the Windows Server platform in particular and cloud solutions in general. Subscribe to WServerNews today by going to http://www.wservernews.com/subscribe.htm and join almost 100,000 other IT professionals around the world who read our newsletter!

Mitch Tulloch is an eleven-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award and a widely recognized expert on Windows Server and cloud computing technologies.  Mitch is also Senior Editor of WServerNews. For more information about him see http://www.mtit.com.


About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Scroll to Top