Converting Windows Server 2019 Evaluation Licensing to Volume Licensing

Microsoft provides evaluation version of Windows Server 2019 on their website. These are intended to allow users to deploy a temporary server for testing or checking out new features. It isn’t an easy feat to convert these into KMS servers. In a recent lab environment we used the Windows Server 2019 evaluation without understanding the difficulty in converting it to NFR once we received those licenses. We researched the problem and found a solution to convert a server created with an evaluation ISO to a KMS licensed lab VM.

Note You will need a KMS server in your environment and a legit KMS license installed on that server for this to work. We won’t provide the actual licensing required on the server side.

Converting to KMS

Microsoft Key Management Service provides centralized licensing management for Windows licensing. It helps an environment scale and can be added into a VMware VM customization file to allow new Windows VMs to automatically look for the KMS server. The issue we saw was that Windows 2019 evaluation wouldn’t accept a KMS license key.

KMS license keys are freely avalable at the following Microsoft documentation link

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/get-started/kmsclientkeys

As we mentioned earlier, there will be an error 1168 provided when you attempt to change to the KMS key. Details are provided by Damitha Anuradha here

The fix is a single powershell command, provided below:

DISM /Online /Set-Edition:ServerStandard /ProductKey:N69G4-B89J2-4G8F4-WWYCC-J464C /AcceptEula

This quick tip will save you time if your test evaluation server becomes a critical piece of lab and needs to be converted.

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