Posted by: on January 11, 2019 at 8:00 am

Microsoft is hitting small business owners with a double whammy next year as extended support ends for both the Windows 7 operating system and Windows Server 2008 in January 2020.

Windows Server logo

2019 is the year to upgrade Windows Server.

In addition, all versions of Windows Server 2012 went out of mainstream support last October. (Extended support for Windows Server 2012 continues for a few more years.)

This presents a financial challenge to small business owners who may find themselves trying to finance and manage two major computer upgrade projects this year.

Is Upgrading Absolutely Necessary?

For Windows Server 2008 (and Windows 7), YES. Once extended software support ends, the computer or server running it is no longer safe on the internet. Historically, we’ve seen huge viral infections affecting unpatched, outdated computers connected to the internet. Much like Windows 7 for workstations, Windows Server 2008 was – and still is – hugely popular. People don’t want to get rid of it. For your business’ data security, however, it’s time to embrace the future and upgrade Windows Server 2008 and 2012.

Most business owners know the risks and upgrade as needed. So, what are some options to upgrade Windows Server software this year?

Three Options for Upgrading Windows Server

Windows Server 2016. First released in 2016 (surprise), this version of Windows Server has mainstream support until 2022. For most businesses planning to upgrade, however, we would recommend moving up to the most current version.

Windows Server 2019. Microsoft just released Windows Server 2019 in November 2018. Mainstream support continues until January 2024, and extended support until 2029. It’s faster and more cloud-friendly for hybrid environments versus Windows Server 2016. In addition, it has better security with embedding Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection. If you are planning to stay with a physical server model (non-cloud) for the foreseeable future, Windows Server 2019 is the version that will provide the longest service life.

Cloud Servers. No matter your company’s financial situation, you owe it to your business to at least explore cloud computing as an option. While there may be a migration project fee, a server hosted in the cloud is paid for with a flat, monthly fee. A full cloud solution always provides the latest operating system version, at no additional fee. A cloud environment can free up more time for you as well, since your IT service provider manages all upgrades behind the scenes. The cloud is not an “all or nothing” solution – services can be customized to fit your business needs. Cloud services improve year over year. If you investigated the cloud a few years ago but it wasn’t a fit for your business, have you checked lately? We offer a cloud readiness assessment that explores the possibilities of the cloud for your business.

What’s the difference between “mainstream” and “extended” support?

Mainstream support starts with the release of a new desktop or server operating system. This is the time period in which Microsoft will still update features and the OS appearance, as well as provide complimentary support.

Extended support usually starts four-to-five years after the software’s initial release. Microsoft will no longer polish up features or provide free support. They will, however, continue to monitor for security vulnerabilities and provide patches for these.

If you’re replacing a physical server that runs an OS within its extended support period, that server software should be upgraded as well. So, if you’ll be replacing a physical server in the next four years, you will need to upgrade from Windows Server 2012 as well.

Why not just offer perpetual upgrades? That’s the idea behind Windows 10. Microsoft releases two “big” upgrades per year, with security and feature updates as needed. These upgrades still have release numbers, so your IT company can keep track of which ones you have and which ones you need. At this point, we haven’t heard any news about Microsoft adapting this model for Windows Server software.

Is your business running Windows Server 2008 or 2012? Are you planning a server upgrade this year? If so, you owe it to your business to reach out to us to discuss your options. We’ll be happy to sit down with you and review your network, then develop an upgrade plan that is right for your business. Fill out the contact form at the right or give us a call today.

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