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'25,000 Windows Server 2003 boxes' must be upgraded A DAY to meet OS support death date

So says HP, which has plenty o' gear to shift, incidentally

About 11 million systems are running Windows Server 2003, according to HP estimates – some 438 days before Microsoft pulls down the shutters on support for the OS.

That means more than 25,000 systems a day, starting right now, need to be upgraded to continue receiving crucial updates past the cutoff date, assuming HP's guesstimate are correct.

Extended support ends on 14 July, 2015 for Standard, Enterprise and Data Centre editions of the OS, whether it's the 32 or 64-bit version.

Bill Veghte, exec veep and general manager for HP's Enterprise Group, who joined the company from Microsoft where he steered the launch of Windows Server 2003, is witnessing the end of the OS's lifetime from the "other side of the fence".

"There are 11 million servers in the market today running Windows 2003. Those servers will ultimately modernise and refresh to the next generation platform," he told The Channel.

There are 91,000 Enterprise Group channel partners globally, and Veghte said they are primed to migrate IT departments to shiny new HP kit – though Dell, Lenovibm, Cisco and Fujitsu will no doubt want a look in.

Gartner analyst Carl Claunch suggested in a research note that only firms already on a migration path will meet next year's deadline.

"A surprising number of client organisations will be operating those unsupported systems next year and beyond; they range from medium-scale up to the largest enterprise IT organisations," he said.

"Both technically adept and less sophisticated shops will find themselves without sufficient time and budget to completely migrate all workloads."

Gartner did not estimate the number of the Windows Server 2003 running today, but warned late movers are "open to future risks due to unfixed security exposures or malfunctioning software".

After D-Day, if a security vulnerability is discovered in the code, Microsoft has no commitment to create and release a patch, nor "address non-security defects or operational issues".

And it is not just the digital Grim Reaper's cold claw on the OS that should be cause for concern: third-party products including "business application may tie the support of their codes to the status of the underlying operating systems; running the third party software on Windows Server 2003 will constitute an unsupported environment".

Claunch said IT systems running on out-of-date server software may "cease to operate correctly" due to "some latent defect that has been triggered by changes in the client's use".

Microsoft is, of course, willing to negotiate support contacts that extend past the 2015 deadline as it did with Windows XP – the XP market share was 27 per cent when support ended – but this comes at a price.

On average, customised support is set to cost $200,000 per year, Microsoft confirmed months ago. ®

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