Remove Essentials role, any "essentials" limitations left?


  • Hello All,

    After three years of continuous (and loyal) service, i am thinking about reinstalling / rebuilding our Server 2012 Essentials Domain Controller. But as our company has grown, a fail-over cluster becomes a necessity. I already have a SRV 2012 standard as secondary domain controller. What i am planning to do is:

    1. Turn the Essentials server off, and remove it from the domain
    2. Promote the SRV 2012 Standard to "Full" DC, having all roles.
    3. Reinstall the Essentials server from scratch
    4. Remove the Essentials role from the essentials server, turning it into a "standard"-server
    5. Join the EX-essentials server to the domain and promote it to DC
    6. Configure failover clustering
    7. Go for coffee or a beer.

    Of course i am wondering:

    • Is this scenario a feasible one?
    • Will remove the Essentials role turn an essentials server into a "standard" SRV-2012, without any limitations regarding, especially, fail-over clustering?
    • Is there any other thing i am missing??

    Thanks for your swift reply!

    • Edited by bernard038 Thursday, June 7, 2018 8:39 AM
    Thursday, June 7, 2018 8:31 AM

All replies

  • I would do 2 before 1, much easier.

    If the server is the Essentials SKU version rather than Standard with Essentials Role, i would imagine this breaks the license in some way.

    Robert Pearman Cloud & Datacentre MVP
    @titlerequired | LinkedIn | Google+
    Facebook | Windows Server

    Thursday, June 7, 2018 3:45 PM
  • Hi,

    If it is Windows Server Essentials SKU (open run, type “msinfo32”, check OS name displayed in summary, it is Windows Server Essentials), Windows Server Essentials Experience server role is necessary and it cannot be changed to “standard” server.

    Besides, once WSE has been joined to domain, it must be PDC which holds all FSMO roles. At same time, user and device limitation is forced. Also, Windows Server Essentials does not support failover clustering.

    Based on your description, WSE does not meet your requirement due to company growing. As WSE is designed for small business environment with simple network, you may consider of demote and remove your WSE, and migrate the domain to Standard/Datacenter version.  
    Best Regards,
    Eve Wang

    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they help.
    If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact

    Friday, June 8, 2018 2:42 AM
  • Only Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016 offer the Windows Server Essentials Experience (WSEE) server role (in both the Standard and Datacenter editions). He states that he is using the older Windows Server 2012 Essentials edition, which is only available in the SKU form (i.e. the WSEE role is not available in Windows Server 2012 Standard).

    However, Windows Server 2012 Essentials can be "transitioned" into Windows Server 2012 Standard if one is willing to pay Microsoft for two licenses (i.e. pay them once for the Essentials SKU license and then pay them once again for the Standard license).

    Personally, I'd pay for a brand new Windows Server 2016 Standard license before I purchased another license for the old, and now outdated, Windows Server 2012 Standard.

    Friday, June 8, 2018 1:59 PM
  • Hi,

    I am checking to see how things are going there on this issue. Please let me know if you would like further assistance.

    You can click “Mark as answer” if any of above reply is helpful. It would make this reply to the top and easier to be found for other people who has the similar problem.

    Best Regards,
    Eve Wang

    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they help.
    If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact

    Friday, June 15, 2018 10:22 AM
  • Hello Everyone,

    After a holiday (that is why my reply is a bit delayed) an update on how i solved this issue. The steps i have taken were a bit different, as removing the essentials role, doesn't achieve what i wanted to do..

    I have re-installed server 2012 essentials with the essentials server role, as removing this role made less sense.  To make the network more fault tolerant i will:

    1. Add the DHCP-role also to SRV02, splitting my address range in two, first halve will be used by srv01, second halve will be used by SRV02. If one of the servers fails the other one will take over...
    2. Added the print-server role to both servers, so user can (at least) print when one of the servers fails...

    It is a bit of a pity that SRV-essentials has no options to create a failover cluster. We are a small organisation, but that doesn't mean we don't need a robust server infrastructure. It is a pity that upgrading from SRV-essentials to SRV-standard (meaning, getting a discount on the price of standard when 'handig back' the essentials license) isn't possible.. But that is something which is not a topic for this forum i guess...

    Thanks everyone!

    Thursday, June 28, 2018 12:03 PM