Transition from SBS2011 to Server 2012 the Essentials Route


Hello Everyone! Today’s blog post brings a scenario where certain SBS users wants to migrate to Server 2012 but wants to retain their SBS like features, like RWW , exchange management from console etc. However it’s not possible to transition sbs2011 to server 2012 as the OS version is different. It’s possible to migrate from sbs2011 to Server 2012 Essentials and later transition to Server 2012 standard.

Let’s look at few of the steps and considerations.

Migrate from SBS2011 to Essentials 2012 and later transition to server 2012 standard with Exchange 2013 on premises

Phase 1 – SBS Prerequisites.

1. Backup your SBS2011 server ( Full – recommended ) , you can use windows Server backup

2. Install the most recent updates and Service packs for windows and SBS2011

3. Update your Exchange 2010 to Service Pack 3

4. Disable your VPN setup and DHCP on SBS2011, you can use the Console and windows native tools.

5. Evaluate the Health of SBS2011 , you can use SBS BPA

a. Fix all the critical errors and warnings

6. Run the Migration preparation tool on Source server

a. You will need to mount the windows server 2012 ISO / DVD on sbs2011 server, browse to supporttools folder and run sourcetool.msi file.

b. You may be prompted to restart your sbs2011 server

7. Plan to migrate your LOB applications

Phase 2 – Migrate SBS2011 (Exchange 2010) to Exchange 2013 (on premises)

1. Install windows server 2012 standard and join it to the domain.

2. Exchange 2013 Pre-requisites
Exchange 2013 System Requirements

3. Install below components / software’s in order :-

Other IIS and OS components

.NET Framework 4.5

Windows Management Framework 3.0

Unified Communications Managed API (UCMA) 4.0

4. Install the CU1

NOTE: This will install exchange 2013 with CU1 update, which is recommended for hybrid exchange deployments. This should automatically install server prerequisites for exchange 2013 and prepare AD schema for exchange deployment.

5. Switch primary namespace to Exchange 2013 CAS

a. Exchange 2013 fields all traffic, including traffic from Exchange 2010 users. Reconfigure DNS and/or your reverse proxy infrastructure's publishing rules to have the primary namespace point to CAS 2013.

6. Obtain and deploy certificates on Exchange 2013 Client Access Servers: We recommend utilizing a certificate that supports Subject Alternative Names; however, you can utilize a wildcard certificate as well.

7. Update internal and external DNS to point Mail and Autodiscover records to Exchange 2013.

8. Configure Mail Flow and Client Access: Create Send connector and add Exchange 2013 as the source server & Configure External Url and Internal Url on Exchange 2013.

9. Move Exchange 2010 users to Exchange 2013 MBX server: You can use Exchange Admin Center or Exchange Management Shell to create a local move request.

10. Migrate Public Folders to Exchange 2013 From Previous Versions:

This article describes all the necessary steps required for migrating Public folders to Exchange 2013. (IF ANY)

11. Confirm if mail flow and CAS functionalities are operational from exchange 2013 Server.

Phase 3 – Install Windows Server 2012 Essentials in migration mode

1. Boot the Destination Server from Windows server 2012 DVD / ISO and install the OS.

2. After the OS installation it will restart and ask you to choose options.

a. Server installation mode, select > server migration.

b. Provide the source server and destination server information in the windows.

3. Install all the Windows Server 2012 Essentials updates.

4. Check the health of domain controllers




Phase 4 – Move Data to Windows Server 2012 Essentials

1. Move Settings and data from sbs2011 to windows server 2012 essentials

a. Copy data to destination server , you can use robocopy

b. Confirm all the users are migrated to sbs dashboard. If some users are remaining use the powershell to recover them to dashboard

Import-WssUser –SamAccountName [AD username]

2. Configure DHCP on Source (optional)

3. Configure network : Anywhere Access

a. Dashboard > Home > Setup. Click Setup Anywhere Access

4. Remove Legacy GPO’s from Group policy management Console.

5. Map Users to computers

a. Dashboard > Users, right click user account properties and click configure access

b. Click Allow Remote Web Access and access to web services applications

c. Select Shared Folders, select Computers, select Homepage links, and then click Apply.

d. Click the Computer access tab, and then click the name of the computer to which you want to allow access.

e. Repeat for all users

NOTE: In Windows Small Business Server 2011, if a user connects to Remote Web Access, all the computers in the network are displayed. This may include computers that the user does not have permission to access. In Windows Server 2012 Essentials, a user must be explicitly assigned to a computer for it to be displayed in Remote Web Access. Each user account that is migrated from Windows Small Business Server 2011 must be mapped to one or more computers.

6. Enable Folder Redirection (optional)

a. Dashboard > Devices > Implement Group policy

b. Enable Folder Redirection > Next > finish

c. You must delete old Folder Redirection Policy from GPMC console.

Phase 5 – Demote and remove source SBS2011 from network

1. Uninstall Exchange 2010 from SBS2011

a. Go to Add or Remove programs

b. Right click exchange 2010 setup

c. Maintenance Page will open > click Next to continue

d. Server Role selection page > select the Exchange roles which are installed including management tools > next

e. Finish

2. Remove AD Certificate Services

a. Server manager > Role summary > remove roles > next > Active Directory Certificate Services > Next > Confirm Removal option > Remove

NOTE: If you want to migrate your AD CS to destination server, procedure will be different and carefully follow the process documented in the link .

b. Restart even if it does not prompt to.

3. Disconnect Printers connected to the Server directly

4. Demote the Server

a. Run gpupdate /force on clients to update newer policies for Windows server 2012 essentials

b. Run > DCPROMO > Next (twice ) > finish

NOTE: Do not select this is the last domain controller in the domain

c. If the SBS2011 computer name still exist in the users and computers or sites and services console, delete it manually.

d. Delete entries pointing to SBS2011 in DNS. Look in forwarders, name servers in forward look up zone and reverse look up zone.

5. Run BPA on Windows Server 2012 Essentials

Phase 6 – Integrate an on-premises Exchange Server 2013 with Windows Server 2012 Essentials

1. Integrate Exchange 2013 with Server Dashboard.

a. Open Dashboard > Home > Connect to my Email Services > Integrate your exchange Server

b. Click Setup up Exchange Server Integration

2. Confirm you can use Dashboard and its features.

a. Check if user and its email functionalities can be managed from dashboard.

b. Install update Rollup 1 for Windows Server 2012 Essentials

c. Confirm if Remote is working.

Phase 7 – Transition windows server 2012 essentials to server 2012 standard.

1. Take a complete backup of Windows Server 2012 Essentials

2. Transition process :-

a. Open powershell > run as administrator

b. Run the command: “dism /online /set-edition:ServerStandard /accepteula /productkey: Product Key”

c. Server will restart to finish transition process.

NOTE: Windows Server® 2012 Essentials supports up to 25 users and 50 devices. When your business needs exceed the limit, you can perform an in-place license transition from Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server® 2012 Standard, in order to remain license compliant.

After you transition to Windows Server 2012 Standard, the user account and devices limits are removed, but the features that are unique to Windows Server 2012 Essentials (such as the Dashboard, Remote Web Access, and client computer backup), still remain available. However, technical limitations for these features support a maximum of 75 user accounts and 75 devices. If it becomes necessary to add more than 75 user accounts or devices, you should turn off the Windows Server 2012 Essentials features and use the Windows Server 2012 Standard native tools to manage user accounts and devices.


Windows Server 2012 Standard requires a Client Access License (CAL) for each user or device in your environment. This is different from Windows Server 2012 Essentials, which does not use the CAL model and does not come with any CALs. When transitioning from Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 Standard, you will need to purchase the appropriate number and type of CALs for your environment (most customers purchase user CALs).

Happy Reading!