Cybersecurity Insight

Windows Server 2003 End of Life: What To Expect

15 Apr

The time often comes when old technology is replaced by newer technology. This also means the end of the support lifecycle for certain hardware or software. In this case, it’s nearing the end for Windows Server 2003. We’ll tell you what it all means and what you can expect as Windows Server 2003 is phased out this summer.

The most important thing to note is the date which Microsoft will stop supporting Windows Server 2003. As of now the date is set for July 14, 2015 and it is quickly approaching.

It is estimated there are over 10 Million servers using Windows Server 2003 currently. This is a hefty number of folks that will need to migrate to new server platforms by July; and if you haven’t begun doing so yet, we suggest putting that at the top of your agenda.

So, what does “end of life” mean and what can you expect once Windows Server 2003 is no longer supported?


This is perhaps the most critical, or at least the engine that drives support for your server OS during its lifetime. There will no longer be any updates to Windows Server 2003, this includes security patches, bug fixes, and everything in between. Without consistent updates the OS becomes critically obsolete and especially vulnerable to attacks and data corruption or loss.

Compatibility Issues

We all know how frustrating it can be trying to use newer software with older hardware. In fact, it’s almost impossible. This also rings true with Windows Server 2003. Continuing to use an older, or often called “legacy”, servers or OS will almost certainly mean you’ll encounter compatibility problems.

Compliance Standards

We have talked extensively about compliance standards such as HIPAA and PCI among others. All of the major security standards require that your server OS or platform is supported. In this case, Windows Server 2003 will no longer be supported by Microsoft. This means you are no longer in compliance and could face hefty penalties or worse. In order to pass a compliance audit you absolutely must have supported hardware and software.

These are the major points to think about with the Windows Server 2003 end of life creeping up on us. Of course, there is also the issue of increased maintenance costs of using legacy servers.

Because the server OS will no longer live up to the current security and compliance standards it will become increasingly costly to acquire support or build security measures to protect your legacy server. In the grand scheme, the costs of migrating to a new platform will be measurably less in the long term.

What to do next? Well, you’re obviously not alone if you have not yet considered of begun migrating your Microsoft Server 2003 to someone more current, for example Microsoft Server 2008 or 2012. Fortunately there are a lot of great resources out there to help with the process.

Microsoft has a Windows Server 2003 EOS website with tons of resources to help you plan and execute a successful migration.

It’s also interesting to note that many organizations don’t even know that EOS (End of Service) is approaching, so if this is your first time hearing it do not be overwhelmed or fearful. If you’re in the IT department you have probably experienced something like this before, and we all are familiar with “last minute” plans.

The important thing is to have a plan, and execute that plan the way you intended. As part of Windows Server 2003 EOS website you will find Microsoft’s keys to successful migration, and this should help you immensely. In the end you’ll be doing yourself and your organization a great service by keeping them secure, compliant, and current.