On July 14, 2015, Microsoft is officially ending extended support for Windows Server 2003 operating system. Microsoft will discontinue security updates for Windows Server 2003 at that time. This date is also the end of life for System Center Endpoint Protection and Forefront Endpoint Protection on Windows Server 2003 and all engine updates and anti-malware definitions will cease.
End of life does not mean the systems will cease to function altogether. End of life does mean that vulnerabilities in the software will no longer be patched, and systems which have not been updated will be left open to exploits, malware, spyware and viruses. Once support ends Anti-virus software will not be able to fully protect systems which are still running this unsupported software. End of life means that your organization may not be able to satisfy compliance requirements while running Windows Server 2003 if your organization is governed by any regulatory obligations.
If your Windows Server 2003 system is mission critical and you must have an in-house server Microsoft is recommending that migration to Windows Server 2012 R2 will be the best path as Windows Server 10 will most likely not be ready by July 14, 2015. System hardware running Windows Server 2003 is also likely reaching end of life, therefore migration to new hardware will be required.
For SMB’s using Windows Server 2003 this is an excellent time to consider your software vendor and service provider SaaS (software as a service)/IaaS (infrastructure as a service) products and service offerings. In other words, this is an excellent time to evaluate your overall IT strategy and strongly consider moving to those cloud-based services and solutions that have been trending in the industry.
Looking down the road Microsoft will officially end Windows Server 2008 extended support on Jan. 14, 2020, and general support for Windows Server 2012 hit the end of life Jan. 9, 2018.