We purchased a new server. Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials was installed by the ISV, and whenever I log in, I'm prompted to complete the post-deployment configuration, yet it appears I can only create a domain or join one, not operate as a standalone (workgroup) server.

Is it possible to use Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials without joining or creating a domain?


No it can't. That unfortunately is not explicity stated in the WS2012E website or in the requirements document, but under Install and Configure Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials:

The Windows Server Essentials Experience role in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials or Windows Server 2012 R2 has the following limitations:

  • Must be the domain controller at the root of the forest and domain, and must hold all the FSMO roles.
  • Cannot be installed in an environment with a pre-existing Active Directory domain (however, there is a grace period of 21 days for performing migrations).
  • Can only be deployed into a single domain.
  • A read-only domain controller cannot exist in your domain.

As a workaround, you can try following the steps detailed here to allow machines outside the domain to access resources of this server.


Regarding possible : No sir. As you should have learned from reading just about any of the technical documentation about the product that you bought, you would know that a server with Essentials on it is a domain controller, which, by definition, means that it must be in a domain.

Regarding licensing : such questions are explicitly off-topic here for reasons that are well-detailed if you will be so kind as to read the "help" link at the top of every page here.

protected by Greg Askew Apr 19 '15 at 16:15

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