SMBKitchen Archives: Downgrading Server 2012 to OEM


Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to StumbleUpon

It’s been more than a year since this article was published to the SMBKItchen, so we’re now sharing it with the general public. Boon Tee wrote this article for members of the SMBKitchen back in 2013.

_____

Not a Third Tier customer yet? Let me introduce:  We’re Third Tier. We provide advanced Third Tier support for IT Professionals and MicroStaffing for IT consulting firms. Come on over, create an account (no charge) and follow our social media locations.

Third Tier Get Support BlogFeed Blog Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook LinkedIn LinkedIN

Introduction

A little known fact about Windows Server 2012 (WS2012) Standard and Datacenter editions is the fact that you can run these operating systems as a Hyper-V host and use a variety of operating systems as virtual servers. The limitation on the number of virtual machines is governed by licensing. You can install two virtual machines per 1-2 physical processors on a host server if you have WS2012 Standard. If you want 3-4 virtual hosts running on this server, you can purchase another WS2012 Standard license, or you could purchase WS2012 Datacenter, which allows you to install as many virtual servers as your physical machine can handle.

Granted, this is not new for those who have purchased a Volume License agreement. However, not many realize that this is also available in the System Builder or OEM channel.

There is a lot of information on the OEM Partner Center here – http://www.microsoft.com/oem

Therefore, if you are running WS2012 as a HyperV Host, you can install up to two virtual servers, which can be any of the following – WS2012 (standard or datacenter), WS2012 Essentials, WS2011 Essentials, WS2008R2, WS2008, WS2003.

Walkthrough

The big question is “How to I activate the servers?”

To downgrade the virtual servers, you will need to implement the following steps:

1. Obtain genuine Windows Media and a corresponding product key.

a. It should come from a previously legally licensed version from the OEM or Retail channel. (Yes, that is correct! You can grab a DVD and a product key from a previously activated and installed server. It does not have to be yours)

b. If you have a volume license agreement, then you must use the volume license media and product keys.

2. Install the virtual server using the media and corresponding product key above.

3. When the server needs to be activated, you can attempt to do this online. If it works, great! If you are not able to activate the product key because it had been previously activated, you will need to call the Microsoft Activations service.

a. Call the number as listed for your country. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/950929

b. Select Windows or Windows Server activation.

c. Type in the installation ID as shown on your screen and wait to be transferred to a service representation.

d. Explain to the representative that you are downgrading your WS2012 installation and need to activate the WSnnnn, where n is the version, installation.

e. When asked, provide the installation ID, and the representative will provide you with the confirmation ID to activate the server.

Note that the other OEM licensing rules still apply. You cannot transfer this license to another physical machine, nor can you put the virtual machines on another physical host. The host and the virtual machines must live and die on the physical machine that they are licensed for.

Considerations

A blog put out by the Windows Server Essentials team at Microsoft indicates a different way to downgrade from WS2012 OEM. Their blog is published here – http://blogs.technet.com/b/sbs/archive/2012/12/12/using-windows-server-2012-essentials-with-more-than-25-users.aspx. In the second scenario, they review how a downgrade could be effected by using Volume License key. In the last paragraph, they also mention the scenario using an OEM or retail copy of WS2012 Standard. They state, “If you purchase an OEM or retail copy of Standard, you can download Essentials and obtain a product key to use during installation from the TechNet Eval Center, and then perform an in-place license transition by using your Standard product key, which gives you a fully licensed and supported instance.” What this means is that you can obtain an evaluation copy of WS2012 Essentials from the TechNet Eval Center (http://www.microsoft.com/click/services/Redirect2.ashx?CR_CC=200142589). Then, you can perform an in-place license transition, by using the WS2012 Standard product key. This will effectively provide you with a virtual server running WS2012 Standard, with the Essentials components.

There are considerations for using either method for downgrading WS2012. As a trusted advisor, the IT professional must weigh these factors when considering the best option for their client. The OEM method provides a simple way to exercise the downgrade rights. However, it does not fully satisfy the boundaries of owning genuine media or legal product keys. If this is an issue for the end user, then they should consider using Volume License products or deploying the Technet blog method.

OEM Partner Center method

Technet Blog method

· Can downgrade to any prior version of Windows Server beginning with Server 2003.

· Must obtain genuine media and product keys. Could be from a previously installed system.

· Uses Pre-activated keys. This means that the end user will have an activated server with the same Product Key that has been previously activated elsewhere.

· Must call Microsoft Activations. There is a risk that the consultant may not know about these downgrade procedures.

· Specifically addresses the case regarding WS2012 Essentials.

· Media and Keys are available online all the time.

· Strictly speaking, it is not a downgrade, as the end result is a WS2012 instance.

· Requires Windows CALs

Summary

This is an affordable solution for really small businesses that are likely to purchase desktop quality low-end servers and need to run a windows domain with a small line of business application. With the advantages of WS2012 enhancements like Hyper-V Replica, these businesses now have an affordable, yet robust server solution to run a hybrid on-premises and cloud IT platform.

Additional Resources

Microsoft OEM Partner Center – http://www.microsoft.com/oem

System Builder Licensing – http://www.microsoft.com/OEM/en-gb/licensing/sblicensing

Licensing FAQ – http://www.microsoft.com/OEM/en-gb/licensing/sblicensing/pages/licensing_faq

Downgrade rights details and FAQ – http://www.microsoft.com/OEM/en-gb/licensing/sblicensing/Pages/what_to_do_downgrade_rights.aspx

Transfer of OEM Licenses – http://www.microsoft.com/OEM/en-gb/licensing/sblicensing/Pages/transfer_oem_licenses.aspx

_____

Not a Third Tier customer yet? Let me introduce:  We’re Third Tier. We provide advanced Third Tier support for IT Professionals and MicroStaffing for IT consulting firms. Come on over, create an account (no charge) and follow our social media locations.

Third Tier Get Support BlogFeed Blog Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook LinkedIn LinkedIN

Leave a comment

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

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.