Have you ever installed a server evaluation version and later when trying to activate with a legitimate key received the “This edition cannot be upgraded” notification?

Using DISM you can troubleshoot and activate.

It’s recommended to use Powershell, but an elevated CMD window seems to work as well.

You can use the following 2 commands to determine the current version, and to which versions the system may be “upgraded”/changed:

DISM /online /Get-CurrentEdition

DISM.exe /Online /Get-TargetEditions

Assuming your license matches one of the target editions you can change and install the product key using:

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

A few important notes:

-It is very common for this to hang at 10% for quite a while. I find 10 to 30 minutes but there are those that report up to 24 hours.

-Verify the Software Protection service and the Windows License Manager services are set to automatic and running. The first may stop and start on its own as needed.

-When completed it usually requires 2 reboots to complete and the first reboot can be very slow. I have seen 6 hours.

-Though it usually automatically activates with this process, sometimes you have to manually activate after completion of the reboots. Running from the GUI does not work. You need to run from an elevated Command prompt using

Slmgr /ato

Should you need to troubleshoot, there is a log created in C:\Windows\Logs\DISM

More detailed information can be found on the microsoft site: Upgrade and Conversion Options for Windows Server 2016 | Microsoft Docs

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