Windows 2003 server in the rear view mirror

Windows 2003 server in the rear view mirror

By Greg Gurev

Gurev is Head Sherpa at MySherpa, Wilmington

Let’s face it. In small business, Microsoft had us at “hello.” Let’s get nostalgic for a moment. In tech time, we don’t have to backtrack too far, just to 2003 when Microsoft’s Windows Small Business Server was the popular go-to operating system for businesses with 75 employees or fewer. Microsoft’s server business operating system was one stop for file, print, security, email, database, remote access and a host of other features for one low price, making it so popular that a number of businesses are still tightly clutching their 2003 servers.

Now return to the present. For those loyal enthusiasts of Windows Server 2003, the day of reckoning will be July 29. This is the day “the music dies” – the End of Life for the beloved operating system. Microsoft’s support, updates and security enhancements end after that date. It’s no big surprise; Microsoft has been announcing this date for years.

Since 2003 there have been sea changes in technology. June 2003 was the start of the “telemarketing do-not-call list.” Four years later, the original iPhone hit the market, launching us enthusiastically into a brand new era of smartphone technology. Tablets followed, further increasing workforce mobility. Windows Server 2003 lags way behind today’s computer technology environment.

If you are stubbornly clinging onto Windows Server 2003, your business technology functionality is falling way behind and productivity is slowing compared to your competition.

• First, it puts your business at a significant disadvantage by not adequately protecting your network and valuable data from security holes and new cyber threats.

• Second, modern software and all that contemporary technology has to offer is becoming less compatible or has no compatibility with Windows Server 2003.

I’d argue that, aside from Microsoft forcing your hand, upgrading your server operating system would be taking a giant step forward to what newer technology offers.

If you have fewer than 10 computers, you might opt to not replace the server, depending on your programs. We have helped many businesses go to a cloud operating system for their file sharing, off-site backup and data versioning. Corporate-class email is also easy to migrate to the cloud Microsoft 365 or Google Apps cloud. Your IT service provider can help point out the pros and cons for each.

If you choose to upgrade to Windows Server 2012, there are huge gains in speed, stability and capacity. Functions that used to take minutes or hours to run can be completed in seconds. You would be able to expand your digital library of business information on vast amounts of inexpensive, fast storage.

Windows Server 2003 End of Life is only bad for your business if you choose to ignore this golden opportunity for improvement. Call your IT provider or MySherpa for guidance.