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I have currently provisioned a workstation desktop as a server. I run Windows Server 2012 for running a few of my web apps and doing database work. While I have no complaints on Windows Server 2012, I miss the desktop features like audio, using high resolution graphics and sleep (WOL) for saving energy when the system is idle.

Can I switch to windows 8? When I tried this, there appears to be no way but a complete reinstall. Is there a way to keep my programs and data and just move the OS from Windows Server 2012 to Windows 8?

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You can enable these features on Windows Server. I am currently using Server 2008 R2 as a desktop. – kinokijuf Jan 1 '13 at 0:17

If you want the desktop niceties like audio, etc., then perhaps instead of up/down/side-grading your OS, instead enable the "Desktop Experience" features of Server (2012), which will make it behave (more) like a desktop/workstation OS.

To enable it in Server 2012:

  • Open Server Manager and click the Add roles and features link.
  • In the right panel scroll all the way down to Roles and Features, click the Tasks drop-down and choose Add Roles and Features.
  • Navigate through the wizard.
  • When asked, select Role-based or feature-based installation.
  • Pick the (local) server.
  • Skip the Roles page, as we're enabling a feature.
  • At the Select Features page, expand User Interfaces and Infrastructure
  • Check-mark the Desktop Experience option.
  • Finish the wizard, rebooting if necessary.

More info here.

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No there is no "upgrade" path from 2012 to Windows 8 (nor vice-versa), you must reinstall to switch OS's.

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The best method would be to backup all of your data and do a fresh install of Windows 8. If you download the Windows 8 ISO on a Windows 7 computer you will be able to purchase the cheaper upgrade version. After you have installed Windows 8 you will be able to restore your files.

The reason being that Windows Server 2012 is quite different to Windows 8 in terms of available software. As far as I know there is no direct upgrade route. If you are running it as a fully fledged server you will most certainly run into a few problems trying to get the same setup going on Windows 8.

Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 both serve two different purposes so I don't think Microsoft has any reason to great a direct upgrade route.

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I think you should be able to install Windows Easy transfer, if it's not included in server, and at least migrate your settings and profile. I don't believe there is a way to 'upgrade' from server to workstation and keep installed applications in tact.

If you have the extra hard drive space for a second partition you could dual boot and run both. Windows 7 Ultimate/Enterprise has a boot-able virtual hard disk that can run alongside Server 08, so they might have a similar function for 8 and 2012 and not even need the seperate partition?

Otherwise Sam has it right with doing a good backup on your data, and a fresh install.

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Windows Easy Transfer is not included with Windows Server 2012. – Oak Apr 1 '13 at 10:47

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