As we enter 2023, the IT world is braced for another year of security incidents and making sure the systems and services worldwide are secure and keep business operational. With this in mind, 2023 is the year that Microsoft finally says goodbye to Windows 2012 Server by confirming an end of life date of October 2023.
What is Windows 2012?
Windows 2012 Server and its R2 variant, are one of, if not the most popular operating systems for business server environments. It saw the first real modern feel aligned with the Windows 7/8 desktop products, improvements in (at the time) security and virtualisation (running multiple servers on one hardware platform) and improved flexibility. As the virtualisation world became mainstream, Server 2012 was installed countless times. Today Windows 2012 Server still stands as one of the greatest operating systems Microsoft have delivered.
What does end of life mean?
Windows 2012, as the name suggests has been around for a while now. Microsoft, after changing their minds a few times, finally announced the mainstream support ended back in 2018 with extended support continuing to October 2023. The key difference between these two being that extended support offers security and patching updates but no new development on the operating system. End of life, October this year means that windows updates, security patching and critical updates will no longer be available. In Microsoft’s eyes, this operating system is obsolete.
What’s the risk?
A Windows system not receiving security patching is a sizeable risk to all businesses. Any new malware and virus that takes advantage of the gaps in 2012 will not be patched, leaving a permanent vulnerability. Besides the obvious security risks, application compatibility becomes an issue, with new products and services having no guarantee of supporting 2012.
Finally, and perhaps slightly anecdotally, running business critical technology stack on a dated operating system isn’t somewhere any business wants to be. How many of us have 11 year old TVs, Cars, Dishwashers? We absolutely accept technology evolving except when it comes to our business-critical IT systems? Why?
What’s the solution?
Microsoft has released 2016, 2019 and 2022 Windows operating systems. All of which are much more modern secure platforms with a raft of features. Beyond that Microsoft Azure enables business and managed services partners to bring these new operating systems to life within minutes on secure, cloud hosted infrastructure taking away a lot of the overhead of managing physical server environments on-premise. Alternatively, many reasons for needing servers back in 2012 have since gone away. Services like Microsoft 365 remove the need for email servers, file servers and in some cases even domain controllers meaning modernising business systems can be less about the 5 year renewal cycle and more about evolving new processes and services.
If you are running Windows 2012 server, this is the year to action changes. Security is paramount. For some the act of simply upgrading will be enough, but the conversation in 2023 is much more focused around what you are doing with that server and, does it even need to exist anymore?