Windows Server 2008 Lifecycle Support Extended
Microsoft added about 1.5 years to its lifecycle support for Windows Server 2008, according to an announcement made by the company this month.
Windows Server 2008 will now reach its "extended support" phase on "Jan. 15, 2015." That phase was originally slated to start on July 9, 2013, but because of how Microsoft estimates its product support, those running Windows Server 2008 will get added time. The change was announced in a September "Support Lifecycle" Microsoft newsletter (subscription sign-up here). The key lifecycle dates for Windows Server 2008 are outlined at this page.
In general, Microsoft promises 10 years of support for its business and enterprise products, with that 10-year span divided into two five-year support periods. The first segment is called "mainstream support," where organizations get access to free security updates and hotfixes, plus some no-charge incident support from Microsoft. The second segment is called "extended support," where organizations lose the no-charge incident support and the product exits warranty coverage, although free security updates continue to flow.
So, while Microsoft extended mainstream support of Windows Server 2008, it wasn't because of the popularity of the server or because of appeals by customers. Rather, it's due to the conditional nature of Microsoft's product lifecycle support schedule. Namely, it's due to Microsoft's timing in releasing Windows Server 2012, the successor product to Windows Server 2008. Here's how the newsletter describes it:
"The Microsoft policy provides a minimum of five years of Mainstream Support or two years of Mainstream Support after the successor product ships, whichever is longer."
The reason for this "whichever is longer" condition isn't explained, but it's outlined in Microsoft's product lifecycle FAQ here. Windows Server 2012 was launched on September 4, 2012, with release to manufacturing happening in August. Windows Server 2008 had its product launch in February of 2008.
The newsletter also reiterated that Microsoft is serious about ending product support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. The venerable, decade-old operating system won't be supported by security updates after that date, leaving it open to attack.
Microsoft can provide "custom support" to organizations requesting help that can't make that 2014 date, but such custom support can potentially cost organizations "hundreds of thousands of dollars," according to Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner, who spoke about migrating from Windows XP in a recent Webinar. Gartner advises that IT organizations now should be well underway in their migration efforts from Windows XP to Windows 7 because of the testing and steps that are required.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.