Microsoft’s next end of life might come without options

When an end-of-life deadline hits popular products or services, companies usually face one of two options: Upgrade or pay for extended support. But at least one high-ranking executive theorizes that option may not exist for Windows Server 2003 customers. 

The end-of-life for the popular servers hasn’t garnered the same headlines as XP’s imminent demise did. But it’s poised to be just as big of a problems for many companies.

Some surveys find that one-in-five companies will miss the July 14 deadline to upgrade. And in the last year alone, Windows Server 2003 was issued more than three critical patches a month on average.

And while many companies paid to keep XP running supported on machines after its deadline, a VP for Forrester Research tells The Register that Microsoft may be less than inclined to even offer extended support for this deadline, no matter the cost.

Prevents upgrades

If the goal of an end-of-life date is to get users to upgrade to newer equipment, it would be counter intuitive for Microsoft to even offer support, according to Richard Fichera. It could also lead users to believe they can continue sticking with older products while Microsoft looks forward, and the company may not be able to continue supporting these older products much longer, Fichera said.

With the deadline just more than seven months away, now would be the time to consider upgrades if you have any 2003 servers. The costs of not doing so could be prohibitively high, if the option’s even available.

Here are some strategies to look into:

  • Consider the cloud. Nearly three-quarters of IT pros surveyed recently said they’d move some or all of their services from Windows Server 2003 to the cloud (although only 7% are going fully with the cloud option).
  • Define an upgrade path. If you’re transitioning to 2003 to 2008, that upgrade may be easiest. But know that it only buys five years until the next end of support.
  • Think about the long-term. The next upgrade might not be your last ever. But it could be your last on-site server or last Microsoft one. Consider various ways forward when deciding what to do next.

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