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Windows Server 2003 End Of Life – Are you ready?

Following on from the end of support for Windows XP in April 2014, we find ourselves rapidly approaching the same scenario with Microsoft’s server OS of the same generation, Windows Server 2003.

Despite the fact that Windows XP has been without vital security and bug fix updates for a year now, it still claims nearly 17% of all Web traffic, more popular than Windows 8 and 8.1 combined. These numbers show that for some users, despite the heightened levels of risk of blue screens or hijacking, the cost of replacing XP workstations until they succumb to such risks is the deciding factor, particularly when large numbers of workstations are in question.

Unfortunately, recent research has shown that the same situation is likely to be true for Server 2003. As it stands, 1 in 3 businesses plan to use the teenaged operating system beyond its end of life, thus leaving a staggering 2.7 million servers unprotected. This is primarily because business owners are not aware that the end of life is approaching, or what it means to them.

Servers are responsible for the unwavering 24/7 operation of business networks and services such as file sharing, network routing and management, domain management, email, Internet services. We all know that business operations in the modern workplace across all industry sectors rely very heavily on these services, without which day to day tasks become nearly impossible. Exposing our servers to any risk is just not acceptable no matter the cost. For this reason, a migration plan should be put in place to decommission all servers still running Server 2003 ASAP.

Read on to discover the What, Why, When, and How.

What is “End of Life”?

Microsoft will not release any more updates for Windows Server 2003. Updates are used to fix bugs, performance issues and most importantly security vulnerabilities. To give some idea on the impact that updates have on the operating system, 2013 saw the release of 37 critical updates for Windows Server 2003/R2. If any one of these updates were missed, the operating system would be exposed to Internet based cyber-attacks and software crashes due to bugs.

Why do Server 2003 users need to migrate?

Security – vulnerabilities not addressed by updates from Microsoft will result in data and network services being more prone to failure, corruption and exposure to hijacking by cyber threats

Maintenance – legacy servers are expensive to maintain, additional network hardware is required to safeguard against threats and aging hardware, buggy software is more prone to failure

Compliance – industry wide compliance standards require businesses to operate using supported platforms; after end of life, Server 2003 will no longer be a supported platform

Compatibility – new software and hardware will not be designed to operate with Server 2003 after end of life, finding compatible applications and devices will become time consuming and frustrating

When is “End of Life”?

End of life is nearly upon us; according to the Microsoft Support Lifecyle section, on 14 July 2015 Microsoft will end extended support on all versions of Windows Server 2003/R2.

Microsoft started reminding us through posts like this in April 2013. A flurry of announcements have poured across the Internet in the last few months from well-respected IT security magazines and consultancies, TechRadar, NetworkWorld to name a few. This issue is making waves because, like Windows XP, Server 2003 still holds on to an incomprehensibly high share of server operating systems.

The time to migrate is now.

How do Server 2003 users migrate?

As a specialist in IT and network consultancy, Bristol Technology Group can help you migrate your server to a tailored solution with minimal impact on your existing working practices. Our solution may include; the latest generation of Microsoft products, (Windows Server 2012 R2, Exchange Server 2013, MS SQL Server 2014, etc), the most stable Enterprise grade Linux servers, proven hardware based security and networking systems, cloud and hybrid cloud based solutions, plus many more.

Many ex-users of Server 2003 have taken the migration as an opportunity to move many services into the Cloud, taking advantage of the myriad of improvements to day to day operations that this brings. See our Cloud Services section for more information.

How long will it take to migrate?

Microsoft advises that the average migration will take 200 days. Thankfully, with Bristol Technology Group’s proven experience in migrations we will demonstrate it is possible in mere weeks, particularly if you choose to utilise our fully operational and mature suite of Cloud Services.


We are! Visit our Contact page to get in touch for an informal discussion on migration strategies and pricing.

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