back to article A WHOPPING 8 million Windows Server 2003 systems still out there

Windows Server 2003 refresh activity has yet to show up in a major way across the UK tech channel amid estimates that eight million physical systems are still out there in the wild - not all of which will be replaced like-for-like. Security updates and fixes for the 11-year-old operating system will no longer be made available …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    Not surprising...

    I think it could become a very dangerous time for Microsoft where their server products are concerned because lets be honest: most products don't really look very appealing at all. Although it shouldn't but "eye candy" matters, at least to some extend. If that weren't true then how come we gained so much when looking at Windows 7 in comparison to, say, Windows 2000 or Windows XP?

    And on servers, especially those with a graphical user interface, some people will expect to see an environment which will at least look somewhat familiar. Its what has been happening over the server lines for over the past years anyway.

    Well, I don't have to mention how great Windows 8 is going, and the new server line basically follows the same path as the client. Including the addition of all the touch crapola. If people hate it on the desktop, why would they embrace it on the server-side? I personally think you'll get even more resistance on that front.

    Another problem: once a new product is out, good luck getting the previous one! Windows 7 is more or less still around, but trying to get Microsoft Office 2010? Or what about server products; Windows Server 2k8 is pretty straight forward, but these days 2012 needs to be pushed forwards making 2008 nearly impossible to get.

    Which poses us with yet another problem where "eye candy" is concerned. Windows used to be all about providing us with a detail rich interface, which really looked pretty amazing. Of course also taxing on the hardware, but lets ignore this for now.

    So here we are; and what is the current development all going to be? Making the interface as flat and minimalistic as possible. Each to his own, but the modern products look extremely unappealing to me. Starting with the often flat and boring icons, right down to hard to look at screens (such as the new MS Office products). And since the server products follow the clients...

    If people hate the clients (think Windows 8) why would they bother looking into a server which follows the same idiocy? (something I never quite understood; why make developer and server products follow a consumer market? isn't it fair to say that functionality should have a higher priority than desktop styles?).

    My take? Open up the sales of Windows server 2008 again, and I think you might be surprised at the results. Same applies to the Office products. I know for a fact that plenty of people would rather buy Office 2010 than getting their hands on the new stuff. And I think the same (to a certain extend) applies to the server range as well.

    Alas; for me & my (small!) company its already too late. We started a full transition into FreeBSD and so far things are looking pretty good. Solid support & documentation, nearly every piece of software is provided; both open source as well as commercially licensed products (Ports collection) and best of all: with the help from the Mono and Samba projects you may very well end up with a better Windows-like server than the original!

    So far we never looked back.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: Not surprising...

      "Another problem: once a new product is out, good luck getting the previous one!"

      "Open up the sales of Windows server 2008 again, and I think you might be surprised at the results. Same applies to the Office products. I know for a fact that plenty of people would rather buy Office 2010 than getting their hands on the new stuff. And I think the same (to a certain extend) applies to the server range as well."

      Windows Servers have traditionally had downgrade rights and Server 2012 R2 is no different. You can use any previous server version with the latest license. I thought that was common knowledge?

      My only beef with Office 2013 relates to the mandatory MS Account activation with the OEM versions.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not surprising...

      The interesting thing is that although XP is now EOL, at least on XP x64, 2K3 x64 patches that aren't built for XP x64 all apply just fine, including last month's critical security patches. Which makes it pretty clear that MS' EOL-ing of XP was purely to squeeze more cash out of businesses with the new short term support contracts without having to do any extra work at all.

      It should be interesting to see when 2K3 EOL date is reached, but for now XP users do seem to have a free and easy source of all the relevant security patches by just installing the ones meant for 2K3.

      1. Ragarath

        Re: Not surprising...

        The interesting thing is that although XP is now EOL, at least on XP x64, 2K3 x64 patches that aren't built for XP x64 all apply just fine, including last month's critical security patches. Which makes it pretty clear that MS' EOL-ing of XP was purely to squeeze more cash out of businesses with the new short term support contracts without having to do any extra work at all.

        What are you on about? I take it your car is still repaired for free 10 years after you bought it? (we like car analogies)

        It is not a squeeze for cash. There are lot's of alternatives out there, spending a lot of time fixing an old OS takes resources away from developing the new. You may not like the newest, but there are still alternatives available for you to choose from. You seem to like free and there are free ones these days too.

        Asking you to pay to support an old system is fine if you do want to shoehorn new things into something that was never designed to properly accommodate them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not surprising...

          What are you on about? I take it your car is still repaired for free 10 years after you bought it? (we like car analogies)

          Cars don't have severe defects. If they do, they're fixed for free.

        2. Gordan

          Re: Not surprising...

          "spending a lot of time fixing an old OS takes resources away from developing the new."

          There are two important points on this subject:

          1) As the earlier post points out, 2K3 patches work just fine on XP, which obliterates your argument that extra effort is required to support XP in addition to 2K3.

          2) Those new features happen to be features that nobody actually wants. We have had the bloated Vista, the Windows 7 that was Vista "lite" which still introduced annoyances such as having to press Alt to bring menus up in the Explorer shell, and Windows 8 which has quite justifiably turned out to be a bigger commercial failure than Vista if addoption rates are anything to go by.

          If it wasn't for newer games requiring DirectX 10 or 11, I suspect the only penetration of versions of Windows more recent than XP would be on machines that shipped with it pre-installed to people who don't know and don't care about the OS as long as the basic functionality is there. Except that most of those people have moved on to using Macs.

    3. DaLo

      Re: Not surprising...

      Also be aware that you can buy a Server from one of the big name brands and get their ROK version of Windows Server. This is essentially an OEM version but you can buy it with the hardware and not pre-installed. This can also be downgraded and you can get the media for the downgraded version direct from the manufacturer.

      You also have the opportunity to buy multiple ROK licenses and over-licence a sever; Why would you do this?

      Well consider this scenario. You have your aging 2003 servers and the hardware should probably get a refresh and you fancy incorporating a bit of redundancy. You have 5 servers currently. You could go out and buy 2 x new servers with SMB specs to replace them all. Buy 3 x ROK for each which will give you 6 VM licences on each for your required server version (2008R2 for instance).

      You now have the ability to run up to 6 servers virtually on each server with no further cost. You might normally run 3 on one and 2 on the other but if one host fails you can switch them all over to one host (even keeping the extra VMs dormant on one machine). You can fire up test versions of any server to test out new upgrades, security patches, configurations etc. You could even try out server 2012 in core mode as a test server to see if you can manage it fully remotely and not need to touch the GUI (which would be the recommended option for any 2012 install, imo)

  2. x 7

    headache for the NHS

    this is going to be a bigger headache for the NHS than the WinXP problem. Server 2012 isn't certified for most NHS apps. Some servers are being replaced with 2008R2, but very slowly, and a lot of NHS applications won't run on 64-bit hardware. Some suppliers are virtualising existing servers and running them on 64-bit hosts, but thats not a long-term strategy.

    The real problem is going to be labour - migrating clients from XP to Win7 can be done relatively simply with not particularly skilled labour. Carrying out domain migrations from 2003 (or in some cases 2000) to 2008R2 needs a higher degree of skill.There are something like 10,000 GP surgeries in the UK, and most will still be on 2003. Then add in all the hospitals and admin groups, CCGs etc......you could at least double that. 20,000 servers in 240 days? Thats just for the NHS. Wheres the labour resource?

    1. Smoking Gun

      Re: headache for the NHS

      You also need to consider client access licensing. The allocations NHS Trust's received from CfH following the end of the Microsoft EA only provide 2008 core cals. The NHS has grown to expect Microsoft software on-tap, and as CAL licensing was centrally paid for (excluding server licenses), it had not had to be factored into NHS businesses cases for a very long time. To deploy 2012 each NHS Trust can now expect to fork out for a 2012 CAL (or Core CAL) and when you factor the apps Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, SCCM, the NHS is in for a rude awakening. Expect a lot of upgrades, but only to 2008.

  3. Mage Silver badge

    Advanced Win 2000 Server?

    How many W2K servers?

    I was still encountering NT3.51 Servers in specialist roles when I was doing big XP rollouts 2002 to 2004

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Advanced Win 2000 Server?

      I'm the go-to for legacy support and I still run into extremely ancient systems. One of our local hospitals has two NT 3.51 systems and there are some mom-and-pops with, I shit you not, WfW 3.1.1. Which is why I keep a working set of floppy drives.

      I still like Windows 2000 Advanced Server and absolutely adore Windows Server 2003 Enterprise. They're solid, especially in memory management. I know I'll have two of the former and one of the latter (that's my license total) around as long as I have a way of running them. That way I keep in practice. They just won't be reachable, not without some interesting contortions and those are always fun to watch! (Yes, SEIM is a way of life, sigh.)

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Advanced Win 2000 Server?

        Completely forgot, I have a Windows Server 2003 Web Edition license that I used to dangle as a honey-pot. Time to dust it off [rubbing hands and cackling gleefully.]

  4. x 7

    still a few Win2k servers in NHS GP surgeries. Maybe 1-2%

  5. bitmap animal

    Tools to do a job

    One thing often overlooked is for a business a server is a tool, it is not a shiny box that needs to be updated all the time. The business invests resources in setting up its machinary to do the job of the business.

    Just because the tools are a few years old does not mean they do not serve the business. What would the world be like if you have to buy a differnet shaped screwdriver every five years and employ a huge team to go around changing all the screws. I appreciate this does not tie in with software and hardware providers income plans, but companies need to use the most appropriate tool for the job.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Tools to do a job

      Alas for having only one upvote to give.

      The fact that there are so many old systems out there is testament to the fact that upgrades are not required for many people.

      After W8, perhaps MS need to reconsider the "sell a new version" strategy and sell fixes and maintenance instead. The OS upgrade cycle seems to be specifically designed to introduce incompatibilities and force the wholesale upgrade of applications. It brings a whole new meaning to the term "monolithic OS."

      Actually, with all the virtualisation tech in place, now is an excellent time for BSD/Linux devs to write enterprise software and ship it as a soft appliance. If I were writing a new "Exchange", that's what I'd be doing.

  6. s. pam
    Mushroom

    more than 2/3rds of banks sill on it &/or 2000

    i shit you not if you could see what old carp your bank is using you'd go back to hiding money !!!

    The fact the writer doesn't investigate is why companies fed it cheaper to pay up to almost 100% per year original server cost just to get custom one-off patch support from MSFT. That's the cash cow disaster being outsourced to the lowest cost country to provide marginal programmers to have at someone's code they have no idea about the original MSFT monkeys intentions...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh...

    we only retired an NT4 box at the beginning of the year and still have a few 2K VM machines. Have loads of 2003 servers, they only will be retired when the product that sits on them is no longer required. Software that is going to be used for some time is already on 2008R2 or 2012.

    PS those moaning about the GUI on 2012, you're doing it wrong!

  8. chivo243 Silver badge
    Windows

    One to go!

    I've already managed to migrate all but one server to 2008r2 or higher. I have an RFC already in draft for the last 2003 installation upgrade. It will be an easy migration as the application creates it's own environment, and a daily back up of the data is all that is needed to transfer the app to a new installation of server and application.

  9. Mage Silver badge

    Classic Marketing

    MS need to release Classic Server and Classic Workstation, based on XP and Server 2003, in 32 bit and 64bit, with NT 4.0 Enterprise's 16G PAE by default for all XP and 32bit Server.

    I bet it would sell well. Their concept of features and changes rather than fixing long time annoying stupid "features" and bugs is sheer candy coated marketing. Stupid egotism.

  10. Alan Bourke

    "energise the opportunity"

    Hold my hair while I vomit, somebody ...

  11. NogginTheNog
    Alert

    "A WHOPPING 8 million Windows Server 2003 systems still out there"

    Is that all?? I'd have put money on more!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “Everyone of our server partners have programmes in place to energise the opportunity,” he told analysts on a Q3 conference call, “so the energy is building around it.

    WTF does that any of that even mean?

    1. Fatman Silver badge
      Joke

      RE: WTF does that any of that even mean?

      It means:

      "You can expect a sales professional weasel to show up at your employer with a cattle prod to be used to induce you to buy their wares."

      </snark>

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019