The clock is ticking for those still using Windows Server 2003. As a matter of fact, the literal clock is ticking on Microsoft’s website as they count down to July 14th, 2015, the day Microsoft will cease to support any version of the popular Windows Server 2003 server operating system.
What exactly does this mean? Consider your other devices. Most likely, your computer prompts you periodically to install updates for various reasons; bug fixes, stability improvements, and security updates are some common cases. Mobile phones are similar. Apple releases minor iOS updates every few months, and even individual apps get updates frequently (glancing at my phone, I see Twitter was updated March 28th noting, “This update includes minor improvements”). All of these regular updates are made by the developers at their respective companies in an effort to continually improve their software and keep users safe from security exploits.
Unfortunately, software companies can only continue to update older versions of their products for so long before it’s no longer viable to do so, forcing users to migrate to more modern versions. Just as this is the case now with Windows Server 2003, the very same scenario occurred with Windows XP when Microsoft terminated support for the computer OS in April 2014 (though XP had a valiant 13-year run).
It is highly recommended that all present Windows Server 2003 users migrate to a current version before July 14th, 2015 in order to protect their infrastructure. Continuing to use Windows Server 2003 puts your data at serious risk. The lack of security patches paints a big bulls-eye on these machines for those looking to exploit holes in their defense. While it’s possible in some cases to restore data post-hack, it can be difficult if not impossible to fully recover after a security breach. In addition to security concerns, Microsoft will no longer provide technical support or warranty claims for Windows Server 2003 users, and many applications, including modern 64-bit standards, will no longer support the dead OS.
Perhaps the gravest consequence will affect users in industries which are regulated or handle regulated data, as they may fall out of industry compliance. In this case, Windows Server 2003 users may be legally required to migrate. For a more in depth analysis, this International Data Center white paper provides an excellent summation of the situation as a whole.
In light of the announcement, many commentators are suggesting Windows Server 2003 users migrate directly to Windows Server 2012 R2. In addition to a host of improvements and added features, 2003 users will appreciate 2012 R2’s high application compatibility, meaning the migration will be relatively straightforward. And for those considering taking the interim leap to Windows Server 2008, you may want to note that Microsoft ended mainstream support in January of 2015, and extended support is slated to end just five years from now in January of 2020.
All in all, when faced with the end of a product lifecycle, it’s always a good idea to take a step back and evaluate our use of technology. While it may be tempting to write off this announcement solely as a tech giant’s latest money-grubbing scheme, it’s important to remember that technology drives innovation just as much as innovation drives technology. If Microsoft continued to hold the hand of an aged software until the last user replaced it, who would be working to improve and expound upon it, to pioneer new technology solutions far beyond what anyone thought was possible? Windows Server 2003 had a good run after all. Twelve years ago, Chicago won 6 Academy Awards and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was published. Twelve years from now, there’s no telling how far technology will have advanced, and so we continue moving forward right along with it.
If you’re still using Windows Server 2003, Feynman Group would like to help you through your migration. Contact us to learn more and discuss your options.