End of Windows Server 2003 and Release of Windows 10
There are two big things in the business technology world coming up in July – one you’ll need to act on immediately if it affects you and one that you should hold off on. I’m talking about Microsoft ending support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14 and releasing its latest operating system, Windows 10, on July 29.
Let’s start with Windows Server 2003 end-of-life and how that will impact businesses that continue to run it.
End-of-Life for Windows Server 2003: What's the Big Deal?
No More Security Updates
First, Microsoft will not release any more security updates or patches for Windows Server 2003 after July 14, which will expose any business still running this operating system to major security risks.
Microsoft announced this deadline years ago – which means hackers are well aware of it, too. After July 14 will be prime time for hack attempts and viruses targeting those who have decided not to upgrade.
If you haven’t already updated your server operating system or transitioned to the Cloud, think about what kind of applications and data might be affected. Many applications you use every day, such as payroll, HR, inventory, invoicing, etc., could end up in a vulnerable position.
Your Business Might Be Out of Compliance
Second, continuing to run an unsupported operating system will put many businesses out of compliance. The two biggest compliance standards that will affect thousands of businesses are PCI and HIPAA. If your business accepts credit cards, you will be out of PCI compliance. If your business is a medical facility or handles health care data, HIPAA data policies may not be met.
End of Microsoft's Help With Support Issues
Third, Microsoft will no longer offer support for Windows Server 2003. Your internal or outsourced IT support provider will still be able to troubleshoot, but there are some issues that require intervention from Microsoft to be resolved. If your technology ends up in one of those situations, you will be out of luck and will be forced to make a change at that point.
It is best to proactively plan the migration and update your systems on your own terms, instead of waiting until you have no other choice.
Windows 10 Released in July: Install It Now or Hold Off?
The second big thing happening in the technology world is the release of Microsoft’s latest desktop or PC operating system, Windows 10, on July 29.
Though it will be available for purchase and download on that date, businesses may want to hold off on purchasing and implementing it. There are bound to be bugs and compatibility issues with any new operating system release, so businesses should wait until the bug-fix version, or Service Pack 1, is released before integrating it into their business environment.
New Operating System Rollout Best Practice: Test, Test, Test
As with any new operating system, it is an IT best practice to test it on one machine first to see how it’s going to work with your existing systems, then roll it out to the organization. You need to make sure that it is compatible with your existing line of business applications, anti-virus solution, VPNs, hardware, etc. This thorough testing will minimize the risk of downtime and other disruptive technical issues.
Whether you choose to upgrade now or later, having the right IT team manage the projects is critical for a smooth transition. If you need assistance with IT planning, budgeting, or project management, have a conversation with your trusted IT consultant.
About Courtney Casey
In an industry dominated by men, Courtney Casey, Director of Marketing for Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., is making her mark on the world of information technology. Courtney has been immersed in the IT field most of her life and has been molded into the tech savvy expert she is today. She began working for Accent while earning her Bachelor's degree from California State University, Long Beach. Known in the Inland Empire as the "Tech Girl," Courtney is a regular columnist for the region's newspaper of record, The Press-Enterprise. Her columns address topical news trends, new technology products, and offer advice on how to embrace technology or avoid common IT pitfalls.