Windows Server 2003 Final Countdown

shutterstock_128215814It’s the final countdown! We’re just days away from the end of extended support for Microsoft Server 2003, on July14, 2015. While the news has been promoted by multiple IT publications for over a year now, there are still thousands (and maybe more) of businesses who are still running Windows Server 2003 and who do not have a migration plan in place. Migrating from Windows Server 2003 to either a more recent version of Windows Server (i.e. Server 2012 R2) or to a different platform requires a lot of planning and a lot of time to complete correctly. This isn’t something that can be done successfully in just two weeks.

With this in mind, many businesses will continue to work on Windows Server 2003, even without support from Microsoft.

The Bad News

Continuing to run your IT infrastructure on Windows Server 2003 beyond its end of support date is risky business, and something that is NOT recommended. Without support from Microsoft, Server 2003 is:

  • Vulnerable to Security Threats

Extended support for Windows Server 2003 included security patch updates that fixed vulnerabilities in the software. Without future security updates, Microsoft Server 2003 is susceptible to attacks via hackers who find system vulnerabilities and exploit them.

  • Non-Compliant

Running Windows Server 2003 will, without a doubt, result in an automatic “F” for a compliance audit. Running software that doesn’t have its parent company’s support is not only against industry best practices but is in violation of many governmental and industry regulations.

The Good News

For businesses planning on migrating to a different platform and are in need of additional time to complete the migration, Microsoft is offering Custom Support Agreements (CSAs) through its Premier Support division. This extended support comes with a hefty price tag though. It will cost between $600 and $700 per server to extend support for the first year and the price will increase exponentially for the second and third years. Plus, not all businesses are eligible for CSAs. However, this is an option to buy some time until a proper migration can be performed.


  • Microsoft Server 2012 (R2)

Microsoft Server 2012 is the most current release of Microsoft Server available. Server 2012 R2 has cloud options that will allow businesses to deploy cloud environments and operate in public, private, or hybrid cloud environments. A newer version of Server, Microsoft Server 2016 is expected to hit the market next year, but businesses shouldn’t wait to upgrade. 2012 R2 offers plenty of new features the streamline server operations and enhance performance.

  • Microsoft Azure

Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform is an option for companies that are considering moving servers and application test environments to the cloud. Azure is highly customizable and offers great flexibility and scalability that are often not available with traditional on-premise infrastructures.

  • Microsoft Office 365

For companies that mostly run Server 2003 to host Microsoft Exchange for company email, they can migrate to Office 365 which features a cloud version of Exchange called Exchange Online. With Microsoft Office 365, monitoring and maintenance becomes Microsoft’s responsibility but still provides organizations with administrative control via its admin control portal. Additionally, Exchange Online is available as a stand-alone subscription for those not wanting to switch to a complete Microsoft Office cloud environment.

About the Author

Nick Underwood

Nick Underwood has over 15 years of experience supporting IT infrastructures for businesses across a broad range of industries.


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