windows staged build to a non-staged build

July 7, 2011


I went nuts trying to figure out what “staged build to a non-staged build” meant when my windows server 2008 sp2 to r2 upgrade kept failing.

Why is this happening?

Here’s what happening.  Your original install was a staged build and you are installing a debug checked build. 

What the hell does that mean?

Look at your iso files. If your iso file contains the work debug_checked_build then it is a “non-staged build”, all other isos are a “staged-build”

Why is this happening?

You probably got an ISO through MSDNAA. They like to give students different builds (debug-checked non-staged) builds than the manufacturer ones (staged-builds).

In my case I had a legit manufacturer copy of Windows Server 2008 RTM (aka staged-build). Then I thought why not upgrade to Windows Server 2008 R2 with my MSDNAA account (ISO was debug-checked aka non-staged)


  • en_windows_server_2008_r2_standard_enterprise_datacenter_and_web_with_sp1_vl_build_x64_dvd_617403.iso <—STAGED BUILD
  • en_windows_server_2008_r2_standard_enterprise_datacenter_and_web_with_sp1_debug_checked_build_x64_dvd_619600.iso <—NON-STAGED BUILD

What’s the difference between Staged and non-staged (debug checked)?

The debug checked build contains fewer optimizations and more debugging checks than the staged build, the debug checked build is both larger in size and slower to run than the staged build. As a result, the staged build is used in production environments unless it is necessary to use the debug checked build to identify serious problems.

How do I fix this?

Short answer (you need a different ISO file that does not have ‘debug checked’ in the iso name).