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We have some W2K8R2 DCs that are installed in Core or Core/Read only mode.

We would like to upgrade to Windows 2012.

Our goal is to also remove the "read only" attribute, and add the GUI.

Would upgrading to 2012 give us the ability to have a GUI?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Microsoft does not recommend doing in-place upgrades of Domain Controllers. I'd strongly consider a plan where you demote the DCs one at a time, upgrade them to 2012 with a clean install, and then promote them again. Doing it this way will let you get to 2012 and have whatever features you want. You can make them RODCs, you can make them writable, you can have them be server core, you can install the GUI.

If you're dead set on doing an in-place upgrade, you can only upgrade an RODC to an RODC, but there's nothing stopping you from demoting it and re-promoting it as a writable DC, it's just not a clean or recommended way of handling such an upgrade. In Server 2012, the GUI is an installable component. You can just add it or remove it whenever you'd like.

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Here is MSFT's guide on upgrading to 2012 – LamonteCristo Feb 14 '13 at 15:58

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