Windows Server 2003 end of life and Microsoft’s rebirth

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As Windows Server 2003 fades into the sunset, what does this mean for businesses that are still using it? What does this global giant still have to offer to businesses looking to stay ahead of the game? We take a look…

Windows Server 2003: the end of an era…

In July 2015, Microsoft Windows Server 2003 will officially become “End of Life”. This doesn’t mean that those servers will be unusable from that date, but it does mean that support for them will no longer exist. As of a year ago, there were still an estimated 11 million users of this server. If your organisation remains in this boat, what should your strategy be?

 

In theory at least, there’s always the option of doing nothing. As time passes, however, this strategy becomes increasingly risky. The absence of updates means no more bug fixes, no way of addressing performance issues and an increased vulnerability to security issues. You could also find yourself facing compatibility issues if you are investing in new software and hardware that are no longer configured to integrate with Windows Server 2003. Compliance is a further factor that should be on your radar: you may find yourself falling foul of your industry regulators if you are running unsupported processes.

 

Against this backdrop, sourcing a replacement for your old server makes perfect sense. But should this be a simple like-for-like replacement? Microsoft stocks are riding high at the moment. Back-end software and a selection of decent tablets have helped the company’s balance sheet but so too has a range of business-related tools that seem to have hit the nail on the head when it comes to meeting the needs of organisations.

 

Here are Microsoft’s most notable current and about-to-be-released offerings…

 

The continued growth of Office 365

Microsoft reportedly doubled its cloud-based revenue last year and the growing popularity of Office 365 is thought to be a big driver of this. The idea of being able to ‘futureproof’ an organisation without a huge initial outlay is a big draw. So too is the promise of automatic updates. Increased functionality provides a further attraction. Top of the list for many businesses is the ability of Office 365 to enable real-time document sharing and collaboration through Microsoft SharePoint. Enterprise-grade email, shared calendars and the ability to access software securely from anywhere via mobile are also included.

 

The launch of Skype for Business

Microsoft’s Skype platform has now been smartly tailored into an enterprise-focused tool, Skype for Business. Ultimately, this will serve as a replacement for the existing business communication app, Lync. Users of Skype for Business look set to get the best of both worlds: i.e. the familiarity of the massively popular Skype platform, but with business-friendly additional features. These include the ability to conduct a meeting with up to 250 people, integration with your Outlook contacts and the ability to start a conversation in Word or PowerPoint. All of this comes with strong levels of encryption and authentication.

 

An early glimpse of Office 2016…

Part of the secret to Microsoft’s success with its core business tools is their sheer longevity. Having grown up with the likes of Excel, Word and PowerPoint, getting to grips with new and improved versions becomes second nature. The latest generation of this classic office suite is due to be rolled out later this year and Office 365 subscribers will get this update automatically. A preview version has been released as a taste of what to expect. It’s still a work in progress at the minute – but expect increased collaboration functionality to feature prominently.

 

Are your in-house servers about to be rendered obsolete? This could be a prime opportunity to usher in a smarter way of working. Take a look at our range of business services to see what’s possible, or learn a little more about what Office 365 can do for your business in our free guide

When Does Office 365 Make Sense For Your Business? Download

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