Upgrade development VM from Windows evaluation version to “full” version

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a lot of ISVs to shuffle, making it very difficult to keep up with the current rapid release cadence of Dynamics 365 for Operations. Maybe things will get easier as the cadence slows down, or when they lock out customizations/overlayering. But for now– and, I expect, probably for another couple of years– I’m not easily able to change platform updates every month or two.

Point is, the development VM (“onebox”) comes on an evaluation copy of Windows Server 2016 Datacenter, and after a while it starts nagging you– with increasing frequency– that the evaluation is about to end. Or worse, the development VM / onebox shuts down after exactly one hour, with no obvious reason why.

For a while, you can use the SLMGR command-line tool to reset the evaluation period (“re-arm” in their term). Basically you need to fire up a command prompt as administrator and run this (you’ll need to restart after):

slmgr.vbs /rearm

But to work uninterrupted (or work at all beyond a point), you need to switch to a full version, and it isn’t really obvious how.

Step one: you need a valid key for Windows Server 2016 Datacenter. You didn’t think that was a magic freebie, did you? Fortunately, you’ve got an MSDN subscription (or you sure as heck SHOULD if you’re developing for Dynamics 365 for Operations!) which gives you five keys. In MSDN, you can go to your account, choose “Use your benefits,” and then click “Product keys.” As of this writing, you can also try going straight to this URL: https://my.visualstudio.com/productkeys Search for Windows Server 2016 Datacenter. There, you can claim a key. (I’m not sure yet if there is a way to deactivate or return the key when you finally move to a new version and can get rid of the old VM… please comment below if you do!)

Step two: Pretty much follow these instructions: http://blog.citrix24.com/upgrade-windows-2012-r2-evaluation-full-version/ (Give this kind fellow the traffic and leave them a nice comment!) Although their writeup is nicer and easier to follow, for sake of posterity, you need to open an Administrator command prompt and run:

DISM /online /Set-Edition:ServerDatacenter /ProductKey:XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX /AcceptEula

…filling in the product key. The Edition value of “ServerDatacenter” might change in the future, so check the link for full instructions on what to do.

Step three? Wait a while. The process is slow, and will be prompted to reboot at least once. Then just reset your desktop wallpaper to a soothing plain black background, and enjoy the lack of evaluation expiration pop-up warnings. 🙂

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