In a prior blog post I shared a great cheat sheet on TechNet for finding what upgrade path works for your instance of SQL Server. I recently had to upgrade two database servers which were using freebie versions of SQL 2008 non-R2 (Express and Evaluation) to full licensed copies of SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard. I thought I’d write about the experience to illustrate the difference between a “normal/version” upgrade and an “edition” upgrade. This article does not cover reinstallation of SQL Server or moving databases from one database instance to another. There’s plenty of other blogs that cover that sort of thing.
Version upgrades are for upgrading from either SQL 2000, 2005, or 2008 non-R2 to SQL Server 2008 R2. This is what I used for upgrading SQL 2008 Enterprise Evaluation (non-R2). So in case you call Microsoft Licensing (1-800-426-9400) and they tell you downgrade to Standard edition is not possible, what they don’t know is non-R2 to R2 is a version upgrade. It is possible I tell you, because I did it! The process begins inside of Installation Center which automatically opens when you open your licensed media from either DVD or ISO.
Edition upgrades are when you have equal versions but want to change editions between Express, Web, Workgroup, Developer, Standard, or Enterprise. There is no Upgrade support for Enterprise Evaluation edition if it is R2. You’ll have to reinstall your licensed software and restore your databases. This is also started from your licensed media > SQL Server Installation Center > Maintenance. You see “Edition Upgrade” link at the top right of the dialog.
I’ll stress now that you need to have a licensed copy of SQL Server 2008 R2 to start. You start the process by inserting the media disc or mounting an ISO with your favorite ISO mounting software and SQL Server Installation Center comes right up. Do not start the Installation Center from the Start Menu as this is for adding features and maintenance of your existing SQL Server instance.