Upgrading Windows 2008 R2 using DISM

Sometimes in the Enterprise environment there is a need to upgrade the version of Windows Server. With Windows 2008 R2 this is an easy task with DISM command and a KMS server. You can also use the command if you have a MAK key as well. Using DISM you can upgrade and every role, feature, app on your server will remain after the upgrade.

A few caveats:

  • 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.

First we need to see the possible target editions for your server. Open a command prompt and type. The server I executed the command on is running Windows 2008 R2 Standard Edition.

C:\Windows\system32>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.

From the output of the command I see I can upgrade to DataCenter and Enterprise Editions. In this example I upgraded to Enterprise Edition by executing the following command. After running the command the server will need to be rebooted to complete the upgrade, you will have the option presented after running the command.
The syntax is:

DISM /online /Set-Edition: /ProductKey:
C:\Windows\system32>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)?

When you have KMS (Key Management Server) in the activation will be done automatically and transparent for you.
Here are the public keys for use with a KMS server:

  • 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 key make that KMS server work.
Using the DISM command makes upgrades and migration a lot simpler!!!

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