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I mistakenly installed Windows Server 2012 Evaluation instead of Windows Server 2012 R2 Evaluation. Now my client just bought the license key for 2012 R2, and I am not sure how to proceed. Is it possible to insert the retail CD that has the key, and perform an upgrade from Server 2012 Evaluation to Server 2012 R2 Retail? This article explains that although it could be possible, it is not correct.

Anybody have any experience with this? It would be very preferable to not have to perform a complete reinstall.

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It's possible to do (see my answer), but without more details about what the specific problem you're having is, it's not going to be possible to give a specific answer... so what's the problem you have when you try to upgrade? – HopelessN00b Jul 27 '14 at 17:27
1. Don't take advice from people who say something is "not correct" without explaining why. I know what the article is talking about, but they should be ashamed of their vagueness, and it does not apply to your situation. 2. The eval and standard retail versions are the same (other versions are slightly different). The new ISO does not have a key in it. They provide the license key separately. Use either a retail or evaluation ISO to upgrade, then install the new license key. 3. Get a mentor, someone who really knows their stuff, to bounce softballs off, like this question. – Chris S Jul 27 '14 at 18:04
@Chris S Oh yes, the license key is separate, I meant to say the DVD castle license key on it, not embedded in the install media itself. So should I go ahead and perform the upgrade process from the DVD? – Carlo71 Jul 28 '14 at 1:39

It is possible to do what you want. Microsoft has a page on the topic here listing what versions of prior OSes can be upgraded to which versions of Server 2012 R2.

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I don't see the conversion path for Server 2012 Evaluation to Server 2012 R2 Standard though. Should I go ahead and perform the upgrade without fear of having to do a reinstall? – Carlo71 Jul 28 '14 at 1:40
@Carlo71 Yes - if it's not upgradable, it will error out, so there's little reason not to try. Make sure you have current backups, but that's always good advice. – HopelessN00b Jul 28 '14 at 13:04
Ok good. Yes I do have snapshots of the VM, so I'll give it a try! – Carlo71 Jul 28 '14 at 16:59

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