End of life for Windows Server 2003

End of Story

Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit [4] provides administrators with a powerful piece of software for identifying Windows Server versions and the installed applications without actually needing to install the program. The tool presents the data obtained in a clear-cut graphical format and can export the results in various formats for continued processing. MAP is a solid tool for administrators to quickly gain an overview of the installed systems and applications.

Migration Planning Assistant

Microsoft provides a Windows Server 2003 Migration Planning Assistant on a website [5] hosted by Microsoft Azure; the assistant leads you through the individual steps in a web-based manner (Figure 2). After capturing the data, choose the individual Windows Server roles and decide whether the servers should, for example, be hosted on new hardware, on virtual computers on Hyper-V in your datacenter, or in Azure. The result of the assistant shows that there is not usually a general solution for migrating legacy systems.

Figure 2: Microsoft provides a useful tool in the form of the Azure Migration Planning Assistant.

Microsoft provides more information about migrating from Windows Server 2003 to current operating systems and a procedure for migrating legacy applications to newer application versions in a series of blog posts [6]. This information provides a good way to gain a fundamental understanding of the procedures involved in migrating the applications and operating systems you use. However, Microsoft does not provide an all-encompassing solution.


The pressure on administrators to migrate from old server roles running on Windows Server 2003 is growing by the day. Nevertheless, there is no need for panic. Timely implementation should still be possible with sufficiently careful planning. In truth, not every Windows Server 2003 needs to be migrated. A few servers could probably eke out an existence in protected segments if these systems communicate only with other internal systems to a limited extent, and the attack vector can thereby be reduced.

Because there is no general solution for migrating from legacy systems to current, supported operating systems and applications, you should look at each system individually and, if necessary, discuss with specialists how to implement a migration to new systems successfully. You will want to focus your efforts on using the latest Windows Server and application software and to try to assure a trouble-free future. If you are not averse to the cloud, you can also take a look at those options, which can – under certain circumstances – provide resources cheaply and quickly for replacing older systems.


  1. Product lifecycle for Windows Server 2003: http://support2.microsoft.com/lifecycle/search/default.aspx?alpha=Windows+Server+2003+R2
  2. Support lifecycle policy for Microsoft products: http://support2.microsoft.com/gp/lifeselect
  3. Migrating roles and features to Windows Server 2012 R2: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn486773.aspx
  4. Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) toolkit: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/solutionaccelerators/dd537566.aspx?WT.mc_id=Blog_ServerCloud_General_TTD
  5. Windows Server 2003 Migration Planning Assistant: http://migrationplanningassistant.azurewebsites.net/
  6. Best Practices for Windows Server 2003 end-of-support migration: http://blogs.technet.com/b/server-cloud/archive/2014/08/26/best-practices-for-windows-server-2003-end-of-support-migration.aspx

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