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

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An estimated 39 percent of all installed Microsoft Server operating systems worldwide are the 2003 edition.

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

If institutions 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 higher-education customers are still using Windows Server 2003—but figures cited by Microsoft Research in July suggest an estimated 39 percent of all installed Microsoft Server operating systems worldwide are the 2003 edition.

Colleges and universities 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 campus 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 campus IT leaders)


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