Remove Evaluation Edition 180 Day Time Bomb from SQL Server

With the recent release of SQL Server 2012, many folks have installed the Trial (Evaluation) or MSDN Edition of SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition.

Now that production product keys are available to customers through their volume license sites, the question is asked, "How do we remove the "Evaluation" from our instance without having to reinstall?"

Not only is this possible but Microsoft provides detailed steps:

Essentially the steps are:

  1. Run setup.exe or launch the SQL Server Installation Center from Configuration Tools.
  2. Click Maintenance, and then select Edition Upgrade.
  3. On the Product Key page, enter your PID key for a production version of the product.

I decided to test this solution. I installed the Trial Version of SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition.

It installed successfully and my version returns as follows:

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 - 11.0.2100.60(X64)
Feb 10 2012 19:39:15 Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation
Enterprise Evaluation Edition (64-bit) on Windows NT 6.1 <X64> (Build 7601: Service Pack 1)

This is also verified in the registry:

I then went through the solution mentioned and passed the product key representing a production version of Enterprise Edition.

This completed successfully. I rebooted and ran SELECT @@VERSION:

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 - 11.0.2100.60(X64)
Feb 10 2012 19:39:15 Copyright(c) Microsoft Corporation
Enterprise Edition (64-bit) on Windows NT 6.1 <X64> (Build 7601: Service Pack 1)

Checking the same set of registry keys as before, we can see that this solution works:

Thanks for reading,


Comments (14)

  1. SQLSmallTalk says:

    @Johan Lander – What error are you receiving?  

  2. SQLSmallTalk says:

    @Nicholas – Have you tried?  I haven't tested against standard since the Evaluation Edition is Enterprise.  I can test this for you next week.

  3. Nicholas says:

    Will it register with a Standard key?

  4. Johan Lander says:


    I have follow your guide on my failover cluster but it will not be upgrade to sql 2012. I get an error when i am running the setup guide.

  5. Michele Wu says:

    The solution works for me.  Thanks a lot.

  6. lj_camp says:

    HI Sqlsmall talk,

    so how is the testing of standard key to evaluation enterprise edition? is it possible to key in only the license?


  7. lj_camp says:

    is the license for standard can be used to evaluation enterprise edition.?

  8. Thulani says:

    Hi i dont know how to find the PID for this activation

  9. Peter says:

    I have just run through the same scenario and came across a few specific issues, which I found a way around.

    To add the product id to an evaluation installation, you can only run the installation center from within start menu if you are not changing editions and have acquired a PID from Microsoft or equivalent.

    If you are using a key from a different version / edition you need to run setup from the installation media of the edition you plan to use. Otherwise the PID key will be invalid.

    When running the Edition update it will complete four fiths of the way and then stop with a pop up box saying that it can't access the instance you have specified…. 9 out of ten times if your instance name is correct ….. this has happened because the upgrade has stopped the SQL services and cant start them again …… Guess why….the upgrade has wiped your passwords for the accounts used to start the SQL services of the instance you are updating … Brilliant …

    Add the passwords back into the SQL services and start them up and click "Retry" in the upgrade and it works now. (Note: the retry works because MS have already made the needed changes and just locked themselves out.)

    Apart from that it all works well.

  10. MrsTapp says:

    I “upgraded” from the evaluation edition to the developer edition with no issues. If anyone has trouble finding the registry keys, they are in HEKY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftMicrosoft SQL Server110ToolsSetup.

    Thank you for your help.

  11. John says:

    How do you upgrade with Open Volume License?

  12. Marti says:

    does this work as well for the 2014 trial to a volume license key?

  13. Arjun says:

    Hi…We have purchased SQL 2012 standard version.We have upgraded the SQL 2012 enterprise Evalution version with lisense key of standard edition as the trial got expired 5 day back,upgrade succeeded without any issues but when we try to restsrt the SQL
    engine services got the error message "lisence got expired"…! was this a expected behaviour or what is the solution here.Please share your suggestions.

  14. abhinav says:

    during installation it asks for a product key, please give me any product key.

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