Support for Windows Server 2008/R2 ends Jan. 14, 2020

[German]The end of support for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 happens on January 14, 2020. Without migration, organizations risk security issues and compliance violations. Microsoft advises Windows Server 2008 customers to quickly migrate to Azure Cloud. But there are other solutions, such as the ESU program. Here is some information on the topic.


‘Switch to Azure’ is the brief conclusion of a press release published by Microsoft this week. It is well known that extended support for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will end on January 14, 2020. However, there are still companies that have no concrete plans to migrate to a new operating system.

But on January 14, 2020, however, the two server versions will receive security updates for the last time. Companies that have not migrated to a successor product by then will therefore run into a problem from February 2020.

Microsoft advises switching to the Azure cloud

Microsoft recommends that Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 instances be moved to Azure so that no security issues or breaches of compliance regulations are to be risked from the cut-off date.

The background to this recommendation is that Microsoft offers Re-Hosting for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 to Microsoft Azure. Then there will be another 3 years of Extended Security Update support for these server versions. Migration to the cloud gives companies more time to find new solutions for their software applications that still require the use of old servers.

What if we don’t migrate?

Many companies still rely on Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 because they either shy away from the effort of server migration or fear compatibility problems of their running applications due to an update. Companies that do not migrate their Windows Server 2008/R2 installations are negligent when they are connected to the Internet. Microsoft points out various risks.


Compliance and observance of EU-GDPR endangered

With the systems unpatched from January 2020, security gaps risk (possibly) open up, making IT vulnerable to attacks. In addition, companies run the risk of violating compliance regulations, which include effective patch and change management.

In addition, compliance with the EU data protection basic regulation (EU-GDPR) is difficult to guarantee in obsolete server environments. This can lead to a loss of trust on the part of customers or partners, provoke fines and civil law consequences and also lead to losses in sales and profits.

Separating systems from the Internet is not a solution

Some recommends separating systems from the Internet that can no longer be patched. According to Microsoft, this approach only protects against external attacks, but not against data leaks and attacks resulting from negligence or malicious intent on the part of companies’ own networks.

Only if a system is completely isolated and data exchange is completely prevented can the likelihood and extent of damage be limited. However, practice shows, according to Microsoft, that complete isolation is almost never feasible and enforceable.

Recommendations for action at the end of support

Microsoft now gives recommendations for the end of support of the server versions mentioned. Those who have not yet planned to switch to a modern server operating system such as Windows Server 2019 or server operation in Microsoft Azure should, according to Microsoft, definitely consider modernizing their business software. Microsoft offers numerous planning and relocation aids on its website.

As an alternative to moving to the Azure cloud, I would like to point out the Extended Security Update Program (ESU), which is not only available for Windows 7 SP1, but also for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Microsoft also mentions that for customers with software maintenance (Software Assurance), in addition to moving to Microsoft Azure, it is also possible to use extended security updates for a limited period of three years at a charge. These updates from the “Extended Security Update Program” must be purchased every year for the affected servers.

Due to the limited update possibilities and the limited flexibility Microsoft recommends companies to migrate to Azure. For those systems migrated to and registered in Microsoft’s Azure data centers, free security updates for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are available for three more years. Further information is available from Microsoft on the following websites:

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