Upgrading Windows Server 2008R2 Editions With DISM

When an environment evolves (growth, mergers, different needs) you have might very well have resource needs above and beyond the  limits of the original Windows edition that was installed. Scaling out might not the right (or possible) solution you so scale up is alternative option. Today with Windows Server 2008 R2 this is very easy. However, again and again I see people resorting labor intensive and often tedious solutions. Some go the whole 9 yards and do a complete clean install and migration. Others get creative and do a custom install with the windows media to achieve an in place upgrade. But all this isn’t needed at all. Using DISM (Windows Edition-Servicing Command-Line Options) you can achieve anything you need and every role, feature, app on your server will remain in good working condition. Recently I had to upgrade some standard edition Hyper-V guest servers to the enterprise edition to make use of more than 32 GB of RAM. Another reason might be to move from Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition to Data Center Edition for hyper-v host to make use of that specific licensing model for virtual machines.

Please note the following:

  • You can only do upgrades. You CANNOT downgrade
  • The server you upgrade cannot be a domain controller (demote, upgrade, promote)
  • This works on Standard, Enterprise edition, both full & core installations.
  • You cannot switch form core to full or vice versa. It’s edition upgrade only, not  for switching type of install.

This is how to find the possible target editions for your server:

C:Windowssystem32>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.

So I went to Enterprise Edition by executing this process takes some time but is painless but for one reboot.

C:Windowssystem32>Dism /online /Set-Edition:ServerEnterprise /ProductKey:489J6-VHDMP-X63PK-3K798-CPX3Y

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)?

You either use a MAK key (if you don’t have a KMS server) or the default key for your volume license media. When you have KMS in place (and the matching server group KMS key A, B, or C) the activation will be done automatically and transparent for you. Standard trouble shooting applies if you run into an issue there.

These are the public keys for use with a KMS server:

  • Windows 7 Professional – FJ82H-XT6CR-J8D7P-XQJJ2-GPDD4
  • Windows 7 Professional N – MRPKT-YTG23-K7D7T-X2JMM-QY7MG
  • Windows 7 Enterprise – 33PXH-7Y6KF-2VJC9-XBBR8-HVTHH
  • Windows 7 Enterprise N – YDRBP-3D83W-TY26F-D46B2-XCKRJ
  • Windows 7 Enterprise E – C29WB-22CC8-VJ326-GHFJW-H9DH4
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 HPC Edition – FKJQ8-TMCVP-FRMR7-4WR42-3JCD7
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter – 74YFP-3QFB3-KQT8W-PMXWJ-7M648
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise – 489J6-VHDMP-X63PK-3K798-CPX3Y
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-Based Systems – GT63C-RJFQ3-4GMB6-BRFB9-CB83V
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard – YC6KT-GKW9T-YTKYR-T4X34-R7VHC
  • Windows Web Server 2008 R2 – 6TPJF-RBVHG-WBW2R-86QPH-6RTM4

Don’t worry this is public information (KMS Client Setup Keys), these will only activate if you have a KMS server and the to key make that KMS server work.

Either way there is no need for reinstall & migration or upgrade installation in for a simple upgrade scenario So do your self a  favor and always check if you can use DSIM to achieve your goals!

34 thoughts on “Upgrading Windows Server 2008R2 Editions With DISM

  1. I just wanted to say thank you. I’ve been looking for this information for months (even asked Microsoft/Dell reps, and they said it couldn’t be done)! The only real challenge performing this, was that none of our MAK’s worked and we don’t have a KMS server. I had to use one of the public keys, then re-activate with our MAK license after the system completed and rebooted. I now have a working Windows 2008R2 Enterprise server that can actually see all 48MB of RAM!!!

    • I have been having the same issue I have a few different keys I tried that are listed under our Volume license on MS site. None have worked, so I thought about trying one of the above listed KMS keys then reactivating with MAK. Is this pretty similar to what you did

  2. I have problem about terminal service, RDP not working after online upgrade using DISM.
    Here is my resolution :

    1. Run this command as administrator
    2. Reboot Server
    3. then re-activate with my company key, and reboot Server again.
    4. RDP Working again ^_^

  3. Excellent, was stuck in the 4GB only mode for a while till I found your slmgr /rearm.
    Yay, all good now, have the key entered and it seems to be showing the full 128GB of RAM. Will do one more reboot later just to be sure

  4. I’ve Exchange 2010 already installed on Windows 2008 R2 standard edition, now we are having requirement to implement DAG and to implement DAG we have to upgrade from Windows 2008 R2 Standard to Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise.

    if you use this method to upgrade edition, does it going to impact any Exchange services?


    • Sorry, afaik this is not supported by the Exchange group. Don’t know if yiu can make it work but it’s not supported. Clean install on the other server is the way to go. Move mailboxes over and than install your original server over and voila, two DAG nodes at the ready.
      Good luck!

  5. Anyway to upgrade a HPC server to DataCenter????

    Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
    Version: 6.1.7600.16385

    Image Version: 6.1.7600.16385

    Current edition is:

    Current Edition : ServerHpc

    The operation completed successfully.

    Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
    Version: 6.1.7600.16385

    Image Version: 6.1.7600.16385

    Editions that can be upgraded to:

    (The current edition cannot be upgraded to any target editions.)

    The operation completed successfully.

  6. Thanks for this great information.

    Can you confirm that this method will support upgrading Windows Web Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard? I’ve confirmed that DSIM reports on the web machine that ServerStandard is a potential target.

    • You’re welcome.
      If DISM reports that it’s a better confirmation than I can give. If it’s not possible it will just throw an error, not blow up the server, so you should be good to go.

  7. Hi This method will support Physical server ??
    Actually i have Windows server 2008 R2 Standard would like to upgrade to Enterprise.

  8. i am having windows server 2008 sp2 32 bit standerd edition which can only support 4 gb ram. i want upgrade into Enterprise edition but while i am trying this method giving error

    C:WindowsSystem32>DISM /online /Get-TargetEditions
    ‘DISM’ is not recognized as an internal or external command,
    operable program or batch file.

    Please help me thanks in advance……!!!!!

  9. We an issue with this tutorial and needed to run two commands listed on these intructions:

    cscript.exe %windir%system32slmgr.vbs /IPK
    cscript.exe %windir%system32slmgr.vbs /ato

    Until we ran these two commands we were missing features, shares were not working and printing stopped all together. Hopefully this will help someone who may be experiencing the same issue.

  10. Thank you!!! I’m going from Enterprise to Datacenter. I tried using my MAK key and it wouldn’t take it. I used the public KMS key to upgrade and then switched it to my MAK key after reboot and it worked perfectly.

  11. Updated standalone Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard to Enterprise without any issues (with MAK key) [not running Exchange or DC]:

    1. Ran DISM above using the generic KMS client key (instead of our MAK key) for Enterprise
    – Rebooted (Windows also rebooted automatically during the upgrade after 1st reboot)
    2. Ran 2 scripts from: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2652825/en-us
    cscript.exe %windir%system32slmgr.vbs /IPK [MAK-PRODUCT-KEY]
    cscript.exe %windir%system32slmgr.vbs /ato
    (Exclude square brackets above when entering product key)

    Can now see usable 144GB, RDP working, no event log errors and everything appears to be working correctly!

  12. Great article. I mistakenly installed enterprise edition and configured server and it came into operation and later found that i installed unrequired edition and after searching through find this article thx you make my life easy and saved from big trouble.

  13. I’m trying to upgrade Server 2008R2 from standard to Enterprise, I run the following command

    dism /online /set-edition:ServerEnterprise /productkey:489j6-vhdmp-x63pk-3k798-cpx3y /norestart

    Everything goes fine until “Starting to apply edition-specific settings…” Then I receive the following error,


    An error occured while applying target edition component settings.

    Has anyone experienced this issue before?

  14. windows 2008 server evaluation, i am trying to upgrade my server eval copy as my origional server disk is damaged, however i have set up my server and as i normally do, i have insalled adk, then when trying to run dism /online blah blah, i get a returned message dism doesnt support servicing windows 7 windows 2008 server.??

    When i run the microsoft tool kit, the kms server returns, everything installed and activated, but then when i reboot, it replys not genuine. any ideas?

  15. You mention that the server you are upgrading using this method CANNOT be a Domain Controller. Why is that? I have successfully tested this out on a Windows Server 2008 Standard R2 to Enterprise and it worked fine. Just curious as to why it cannot or should not be done on a DC

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