Where Are My Dell Downgrade Product Keys?

Working in Dell support, I see a lot of issues related to licensing and downgrade kits. Customers will purchase a 2012 R2 server but will need to have the OS downgraded to 2008 R2 for one reason or another.  Another common scenario is Hyper-V 2012 R2 on the host but needing to run Windows 2012 or Windows 2008 R2 in a virtual machine. All of these scenarios are valid and very common.

So where does the issue come in? Well the customer will contact Dell and an OEM downgrade kit will be sent. At this point everything is working according to plan.

Once the downgrade kit is received, here is what the customer receives in the package.

  1. 1 packing slip
  2. 1 Card with the product keys
  3. 1 DVD with an OEM OS (Optional)

So where’s the issue??? – Well we see 2 sets of product keys above Windows 2008 standard and 2008 R2 Enterprise. That’s everything we need right – well not exactly, I want to install Windows 2008 R2 Standard or Windows 2008 Enterprise where is the rest of my keys? Chaos ensues with the conversation with the tech going something like this:

Tech: I sent the downgrade kit but the customer is missing some of the keys.
Brad: Missing some keys? Thats not good, what did the customer recieve?
Tech: Well I sent the downgrade kit, customer is trying to install 2008 R2 Standard and none of the keys are working.
Brad: Did the customer open the package?
Tech: The customer said he did.
Brad: Lets make sure there is no plastic around the keys, I have seen this before and the card they recieved is actually a couple cards and there are more keys inside.
Tech (At some point in the near future): Customer still does not have the keys.
Brad: Hmm, is possible to get a picture of what the customer recieved?
Tech send picture.
Brad: Well looking at the picture I can tell that there is plastic around it, the customer needs to open the package.
Tech: I don’t understand – the customer said that he did.
Brad (Banging head against desk): Please open the package…

While this may seem ridiculous and a little bit funny, it actually happens somewhere in the neighborhood of around 2-3 times per week. Admittedly it is not very intuitive; looking at the package it appears like 1 card with 2 sides and product keys, but opening the package there are multiple cards with multiple keys on the inside.

For whatever reason there is a secret code almost like a mattress tag and nobody wants to open the package. I have spent countless hours trying to get a customer or technician to understand that there is more in the package then just the four keys that are visible through the package. Hopefully this will save you some time and energy, and me from beating my head against solid objects 🙂

Additional notes about licensing:

  1. Regarding the Windows 2008 and Windows 2008 R2 keys there are actually 2 keys per card: one is the physical host key and the other is a virtual key for VM’s.   Microsoft changed this with 2012 and no longer includes the virtual key. The key on the box is the same key used for virtual machines. If you are loading more than a couple vm’s, volume licensing would be the way to go.
  2. Although you install Windows 2008R2 on the host machine that shipped with OEM 2012 R2, You are still licensed by the 2012 R2 – for example you buy a server preloaded with Windows 2012 OEM Standard, and you reinstall with Windows 2008 R2 Standard – You are still licensed under the 2012 OEM Standard license – which translates to 2 free vm guests versus the one that came with Windows 2008 Standard.
  3. There is really only one difference between Windows 2012 R2 Datacenter and Windows 2012 R2 Standard and that comes into play with virtualization rights. Standard comes with 2 free OS’s, Datacenter comes with unlimited. In the 2008 days there was a difference with Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter but since Standard and Enterprise has been collapsed into one product line. To activate an OEM virtual machine – check this post out
  4. If you are running Windows 2012 R2 datacenter and the vm’s are going to be 2012R2 then Automatic Virtual Machine Activation is the way to go. Its fast and easy.
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Posted in Licensing, Windows 2012 R2

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