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Organisations remain on Windows Server 2003 as end of support looms

Hundreds of thousands of UK businesses run Windows Server 2003 software with Microsoft's 14 July 2014 end of support deadline imminent

Approximately 11 million machines are still running Windows Server 2003 around the world and 400,000 UK businesses still use the outdated Server 2003 operating system (OS), according to application migration specialist Camwood.

One in three virtual machines in datacentres are running Server 2003.

The company estimated up to 70% of businesses would miss the 14 July 2015 deadline to migrate from the defunct OS.

Adrian Foxall, CEO of Camwood, said: "As with so many big migrations that have come before, Server 2003 has once again shown the IT industry to be woefully unprepared when it comes to their application estates. This lack of preparation is not only extremely costly – with Microsoft charging $600 per server for extended support – but also places customers’ data at significant risk.

"By failing to make the switch to a newer operating system – whether that’s Server 2008, 2012 or a cloud-based alternative – businesses are opening themselves up to a number of legal challenges, falling out of compliance and risking hefty fines. At the end of the day, this isn’t just bad IT practice, it’s also bad for business."

In a recent Computer Weekly article, Tony Lock, a principal analyst at Freeform Dynamics, said: "A lot of organisations simply don’t have up-to-date inventory data. The first thing everybody should be doing is some very quick and dirty discovery to find out what Server 2003 machines they have running. There are plenty of inventory discovery tools that will let you do that."

Virtualisation has prolonged the life of legacy operating systems, allowing them to run on newer hardware. According to the CloudPhysics Global Dataset, while Windows 2003 VM share is declining, given the current rate of decline, CloudPhysics estimated that the proportion of servers still running the unsupported OS would reach a statistically insignificant level in the first half of 2018 – three years after Microsoft ends support.

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