Countdown to Microsoft Windows Server 2003 End of Support

By Microsoft’s calculations there are still millions of machines running on Windows Server 2003. Over a decade old, the successful server operating system will retire on the 14th July 2015 where, Microsoft will terminate the support for it.

The server will not suddenly stop working, users will still be able to access the resources they require but, staying on the platform can be risky, costly and cause compliance issues for businesses.

See what the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 end of support could mean for your business in our short video:-

If you would like more information or advice on Windows Server 2003 migrations and upgrades, get in touch, we will be happy to help.

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Let’s talk about…Windows 10

It feels like Windows 8 was only just released yesterday but it is nearly time for a new operating system to hit our devices – Windows 10. But, why jump from 8 to 10? Microsoft stated the newest version is so significant that it warrants a ‘10’, differentiating it to mark a ‘new chapter in the history of Windows’. However according to other sources, Microsoft decided to skip Windows 9 because of legacy code from third-party applications –

windows 10Cranbourne said that “early testing revealed just how many third party products had code in the form of Windows 9”, referring to benchmark operating systems Windows 95 and Windows 98. He said: “This was the pragmatic solution to avoid that.”

There was also rumours late 2014 that upgrades for Windows 7 and 8 users will be free. Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Operating Systems confirmed at an event in January that for the first year after the launch, customers with devices running on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows Phone 8.1 will be able to upgrade to the latest version of the operating system – for free. However, those on ‘Enterprise’ versions will not be included in this offer.

Details of how this would work has not been released but, it seems that Microsoft has learnt from the previous release of Window 8 – it is not always the case of if we build it, customers will come! By providing incentives for Windows 10 uptake will help Microsoft create demand for suitable applications for the new OS.

Windows Server 2012: The breakdown

Many may consider Microsoft Windows Server 2012 as the enemy because SBS was axed in the process of releasing it. But, the different editions of Server 2012 (Foundation, Essentials, Standard and Datacentre) will cater for the small, medium and large organisations, it just might be a little more costly in some scenarios.

Simplified Licensing Model

The Foundation version (which is OEM only) is limited to 1 processor and 15 users and once purchase additional processors cannot be added. It will provide a basic infrastructure with active directory, remote access and file and print sharing, ideal for a small businesses.

Essentials would suit SMEs up to 25 users and unlike SBS, it does not include on-premise versions of Exchange, Sharepoint, SQL Server and WSUS – but, they can be purchase separately (which can be costly). A more cost-effective option would be to integrate it with Microsoft online hosted services like Office365, hosted Exchange etc.

When buying the Essentials or Foundation edition CALs (Client Access Licenses) are not required to go with the processor licenses. If the business is looking to grow or virtualise in the future it may be better to go for the other editions because, they both have no virtualisation rights.

The Standard and Datacentre editions both have the same product features and need to be purchased with CALs, for each user or device that connects to the server – the only difference between them is usage rights.

For Standard, each processor license will only allow 2 virtual instances whereas, the Datacentre edition allows unlimited virtual instances. Extra CALs will be needed if you wish to use certain features such as Remote Desktop Services and Active Directory Rights Management.

So before deciding on which to buy, it is the case of working out how many virtual machines you are looking to run in the current environment (if any), whether this will increase in the near future and whether you require the use of the additional features.

Some of the Features of Windows Server 2012

  • Server Manager – the ability to create and manage server groups within the network
  • Hyper-V Replication – the features allow administrators to replicate a virtual machine from one location to another with Hyper-V and a network connection
  • Increased PowerShell Capabilities – remote sessions are resilient, helps to simplify management of workloads and you can also program the secure multi-machine workflow engine.
  • Dynamic Access Control improvements – the ability now to restrict access to sensitive files by enforcing file security policy at domain level i.e. allow users to view but not edit, print or copy protected files.

For more advice on moving away from end of support products and Microsoft licensing contact us today.

Countdown has begun…Bye Bye Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003

Nearly time to say goodbye to Windows Server 2003…

The support for Windows Server 2003 will be ending on 14th July 2015 and with the discontinuation of SBS it seems Microsoft customers have to go down the Office365 or Windows Server 2012 route. With the end of support in less than 12 months, companies need to pick a path because staying with Server 2003 is not a good idea.

The main issue with staying with Windows Server 2003 or any out of support product is the fact bug fixes will stop and you will not receive anymore updates and patches. This means any new Server 2003 vulnerabilities will not be addresses, which could become a massive security risk.

To protect the network more investment of time and money will be needed to strengthen the security of the network i.e. intrusion detection and upgrading firewalls. So, in the long run moving to Windows Server 2012 might be more cost-efficient.

For some sectors running unsupported products it may mean the IT network will not meet the necessary legal and regulatory requirements. The outdated product on the network can also become unstable, cause increased downtime and a decrease in productivity.

There are really 3 main options for those who are currently on Windows Server 2003: stick with it, perform an upgrade on the existing hardware or migrate and upgrade – which could be the best option if the current hardware is several years old.

For upgrades, migrations planning and deployment as well as proactive IT services information and advice please contact us today on 0845 603 5552.

Why Sticking with Windows XP is a bad idea…

It’s time to move on now if you are still running Windows XP after the support ended…

Windows XP is no longer covered by Microsoft, since 8th April 2014 Microsoft stopped providing security updates, hotfixes, bug fixes, service packs and online technical assistance. Microsoft has been warning people and businesses about it for months but, there are still an estimated 27% of desktops worldwide running on Windows XP according to Netmarketshare.

Since the end of support your system could be exposed to serious risks and security threats. Windows XP have vulnerabilities like any other operating system but, when it was still supported Microsoft would provide patches and updates to resolve these vulnerabilities. But now unprotected, who to say cybercriminals won’t write a piece to malicious software just targeted at XP machines?

So beware, data on the over a decade-old system won’t be fully protected even if anti-virus software is installed, as cybercriminals can exploit the vulnerabilities or the ‘gaps’ within the system security to steal or corrupt data.

System not connected to the internet? If it is connected to a network it can still be a door for malicious software, acting like a carrier and allow the software to infiltrate and infect other computers running Windows 7 or 8 on the network.

If you’re still on XP at work or at home it is time to complete the migration to a new operating system to help keep all your information safe, from those who wish to exploit the unsupported system. The risk is there so, upgrade your operating system to protect your data and network!