News

End of support for Windows Server 2003 to affect schools

By Dennis Pierce, Special Projects Editor
October 9th, 2014

Microsoft is ending support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015—and schools should start planning now if they need to upgrade, experts say

serverMicrosoft’s decision to end support for its Windows Server 2003 edition next July means the clock is ticking for schools that continue to use this older server platform, industry experts say.

If these schools don’t upgrade their server infrastructure by July 14, 2015, they risk exposing their networks to critical security risks.

That’s the date Microsoft says it will end all support for Windows Server 2003, meaning the company no longer will issue security updates or non-security “hotfixes” for the software. Free or paid support options and online technical content updates will not be available after that date, either, Microsoft says.

Microsoft’s announcement also means third parties will be unable to support Windows Server 2003 security updates as of the July 14 cutoff date—and “any third-party claims otherwise are inaccurate,” said a Microsoft spokesperson.

Microsoft was unable to say how many K-12 customers are still using Windows Server 2003—but figures cited by Microsoft Research in July 2014 suggest an estimated 39 percent of all installed Microsoft Server operating systems worldwide are the 2003 edition.

Schools currently running Windows Server 2003 will need to identify which of their applications will be affected and “move forward with migration planning,” Microsoft said.

The IT consulting firm Insight Enterprises suggests that IT leaders shouldn’t delay, because the transition from Windows Server 2003 is “more time consuming and complex than the end of support for Windows XP,” which affected many customers who were unprepared.

(Next page: What’s involved in upgrading—and advice for school IT leaders in making the transition)