What You Should Know About Windows Server 2003 End of Support

Are You Still Using Windows Server 2003?

It’s been a long time in the making, but Microsoft has officially ended support for its Windows Server 2003 operating system. For our Austin managed IT services clients, this has been one of the key issues of late.


For months now Microsoft has posted reminders informing users that it would no longer support the outdated operating system, nor would it release new security patches. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, however, as mainstream support for Windows Server 2003 ended on July 13 2010. In an effort to smooth over the transition, Microsoft offered extended support up until last week. But the final nail in Windows Server 2003’s coffin came on July 14, 2015, when it was officially laid to rest.

Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for any version of Windows Server 2003. If you are still running Windows Server 2003 in your datacenter, you need to take steps now to plan and execute a migration strategy to protect your infrastructure,” wrote Microsoft on its website.

Do I Really Need to Transition To a New OS?

This isn’t the first time that Microsoft has ended support on one of its operating systems, and it won’t be the last. While the software maker has a vast amount of resources available, it simply can’t continue to update and maintain each OS in its inventory. Therefore, it stops supporting them after a specified period of time.

Windows XP entered the last phase of its life cycle just over a year ago. There was greater controversy surrounding Windows XP end of support simply because it was a desktop operating system, whereas Windows Server 2003 – as the name suggests – is intended strictly for servers.

It’s important to note that businesses can still use Windows Server 2003, even after Microsoft has ended its support. With that said, this isn’t recommended for a few different reasons. Without Microsoft releasing new updates for the OS, it will almost certainly encounter security vulnerabilities, placing users’ systems at risk for intrusion. Failing to transition to a newer operating system may also open the doors for lawsuits and legal issues, as companies may be accused of not doing enough to protect their data.

According to a recent study conducted by Camwood, 70% of companies using Windows Server 2003 were not prepared for the transition at the time of its end of support. That’s a pretty shocking number considering the dozens of notifications and extensions Microsoft has given. If your company falls into this category, you should consult with an Austin Managed IT Services to get your system back on track.

What are The Alternatives?

The most popular alternative is Windows Server 2012 R2. Assuming you prefer the Microsoft’s “windowed” user interface, this is probably your best bet. Originally launched October 18, 2013, it preserves many of the same features and elements found in Windows Server 2003, allowing for a smooth and painless transition.

Microsoft is also working to develop a successor to Server 2012 R2, Server 2016. The first technical preview version will be released on October 1, 2015 in conjunction with System Center. Windows Server 2016 remains in beta testing mode with an expected public launch date for the first quarter of 2016.

Of course, there are also Linux-based alternatives available as well. As noted in an article published by PCMag, Univention Corporate Server, Zentyal SMB Edition, Igaware Small Business Server, Fedora and CentOS are all viable solutions. Keep in mind, though, the the infrastructure of Linux is significantly different than Windows, making transitions a bit more technical and time-consuming.

You can learn more about how transitioning from Windows Server 2003 to a newer OS by visiting Microsoft’s help page at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/windows-server-2003/.  It walks you through the process while answering all of your questions. If all of this sounds too difficult, though, you can always let the professionals here at Magnet Group Solutions take care of it.

Is your network still running Microsoft Windows Server 2003?