First, if this is in the wrong thread I apologize, I did not see a server 2012 thread and its built on windows 8(8.1 really) so on that I am improvising.
I discovered the Microsoft Dreamspark service that provides legitimate software for free to students and was thus able to get a copy of server 2012R2 datacenter and installed it onto a spare (real/physical) computer.
(This project is both a personal lab for myself to learn but also personal production as well, as I have several other computers and the benefits of being on a domain are something I am interested in. While yes I am setting up a enterprise (level) network it is for my use (and my resume's benefit) )
The Key difference in 2012 datacenter vs standard is the license allows for the datacenter version to have datacenter installed and running in as many 'Virtual Machines' as the datacenter host machine can handle where as standard only allows for (2) VM's
The activation key from dreamspark can only be used twice (I believe per hardware profile but it could be per install, not sure on that).
If using Microsoft's own Hyper-V solution there are readily available (AVMA -Automatic Virtual Machine Activation) keys that can be googled and found very easily on Microsoft's many forums and knowledge bases. Hyper-v for a virtualized server is acceptable however, there were some show stopping (for me, being a graphical junky) issues running Win7 in a separate VM so I switched to VMware workstation. However VMware and Hyper-v will not operate together (you can either remove Hyper-v, or create a boot entry that prevents hyper-v from being enabled at boot. I chose the latter option), Win7 now operates in the way I need so I turn my focus back to server 2012 datacenter in a VM.
Installation is not an issue and the AVMA key does let the installer proceed though it will not activate once installed and setup inside VMware(apparently they only work in hyper-V). In my searching around the internet I have found documentation backing up this is allowed, several places but while finding documentation saying 'you can' do this I cannot find ANYTHING that says 'How to' do this.
I saw some reference to MAK & KMS key codes and I added the Volume activation service to real server as I saw some reference to that being used with a n-1 license of some sort. However, everything I found online AVMA Key's another set of keys I found in one of the Microsoft Knowledge bases would not work on the KMS configuration and setup screen in the volume activation configuration wizard.
So for the life of me I cannot figure out how to activate server 2012r2 datacenter inside VMware workstation running on a server 2012r2 datacenter host and in my searching I find many things that say 'you can' but nothing says 'how'....... Help please.