Businesses have been warned that they have just one week to upgrade systems using Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2.
Official support from Microsoft for the products ends on January 14.
Those still using the software after this date will face rapidly rising security and interoperability risks: the deadline means an end to security patches and free support.
Support for Microsoft Exchange server, meanwhile — the mail and calendar server that lets businesses host their own Outlook email — ends on October 13, 2020, along with that for Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, and Project Server 2010.
With nearly half of all small and midsize businesses still relying on unsupported operating systems for security needs, the issue is a big one, and it is not just SMEs at risk: Travelex, the major foreign exchange provider hacked on New Year’s Eve, is among the companies still running Windows 8 servers.
While that particular attack may not have made use of an unpatched Windows 8 vulnerability (few details have emerged) the fact emphasises how it is not just SMEs that are likely to suffer if IT infrastructure is not upgraded.
Customers who cannot meet the end-of-support deadline may purchase Extended Security Updates to keep server workloads protected until they upgrade (some restrictions apply), Microsoft notes, but they’ll need to move fast.
As Mike Puglia, CMO at Kaseya notes, change comes slowly to many: “Windows 10 was released nearly five years ago, but many businesses have yet to migrate [from Windows 7]. He added in an emailed comment: “A mass OS migration is a serious undertaking, even for those who have been aware of the impending end of support deadline. Many businesses simply don’t have the IT infrastructure in place to implement a migration of this scale, so migrating manually would take years to complete.
“Other users have hesitated to switch simply because they already love Windows 7 and are hesitant to move to an unfamiliar OS.”
Microsoft claims that those migrating 100 servers to Azure could save up to $750,000 and recommends breaking existing application inventories into four basic categories of workloads and apps ahead of migration (for those leaving it to the very last minute…)
• Custom applications, or line-of-business (LOB) applications, developed in house.
• Microsoft applications, including Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint, or workloads running on Remote Desktop Services.
• Microsoft partner applications such as SAP and Adobe, or other off-the-shelf partner applications.
• Servers that run key workloads, including network services like Doman Name System (DNS), file and print servers, and other Windows Server components.
Windows Server 2008: Approaches to Consider
Users can choose from a host of options when it comes to migrating.
These include rehosting the workload on the cloud, using virtual machines. There is no shortage of commercial tools to migrate the machine images from physical or virtual machines to Azure Virtual Machines, for example, and to then use Azure networking services to tie them back to your business’s data centers.
Plenty of users may want to stay on-premises, for various reasons. There are, of course, new versions of Windows Server that allow businesses to continue running “conventional” operations, after forking out a little, of course. That cost is likely to be worth it: those choosing to stay put will be paying substantially more for third-party support and maintenance costs after January 14…