Windows Server 2003 reaches its official end of life (EOL) date on July 2014 despite the fact that sizable numbers of organisations apparently still use it. Beyond that date, Microsoft will no longer issue security updates.
Arguably it's as significant a date in the computing calendar as was the EOL experienced by XP last year but for some reason simply less discussed. MIcrosoft recommends migration to Windows Server 2012 R2 rather than using Server 2008 as some kind of stop-gap staging post. The question remains what organisations should do if they can't avoid running Server 2003 in the meantime.
Windows Server has suffered 36 software flaws with security implications so far in 2015 a considerable uptick on 2014's figure and suggesting that by the time the year is out it might challenge 2011's record 95 flaws. Most of the flaws now being patched are towards the serious end of the CVE scale - it is clear that continuing to run Server 2003 represents a major risk going forward and one that even the occasional Microsoft patch will not be able to plug.
The best advice is to get out of Server 2003 as soon as possible. For a broader perspective we decided to consult Adrian Foxall, CEO of applications consultancy Camwood, whose firm has experience of Windows Server 2003 and 2008 migration projects.
The end of support for Windows XP generated a lot of "buzz". Why hasn't this been the case for Server 2003?
The end of Windows XP was considered an extremely significant event for the IT community and in many ways XP impacted so many different aspects of technology that it was simply too big to ignore. As a result, in the six months building up to April 5th we witnessed far more discussion and analysis around the repercussions of the end of support for XP than during the build up towards Server 2003. Financial services, retail, consumer technology, government infrastructure, apps - everything was going to be affected by the end of XP. It was an extremely broad topic with a massive array of consequences.
While the same is reasonably true of Server 2003, which is being used in all variety of different sectors, server maintenance is considered more of a back-end process and not a user-facing issue. The demise of 2003 simply hasn't received the same level of visibility - and ultimately interest - as its front-end counterpart.
To see the drastic difference between these two migrations one need only look at the different levels of visibility in the core IT media. According to Camwood's own research, Server 2003 has received one twentieth (5 percent) of the coverage that surrounded the end of Windows XP. In terms of explaining why this disconnect exists, we've found that most people still hold a strong association between Windows XP and "turn of the millennium" computing. As a result - even though Server 2003 was only released two years later - XP is still perceived as significantly more dated in the minds of both consumers and IT professionals.
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