Windows Server 2012 is dead, long live … anything newer
Today, October 9, marks the end of mainstream support for Windows Server 2012 in all variations, including Datacenter, Essentials, Standard, and all the R2 variations. Seems crazy doesn’t it? Server 2012 doesn’t seem like it could possibly be that old, but in fact, it released at the end of 2011, so we’re at eight years already.
What does all this mean? Well, if you call support, you’ll have to pay extra, or have a special service contract with Microsoft. It also means that Microsoft isn’t going to be releasing nearly as many patches and fixes for 2012 moving forward. Extended support will keep getting us security and critical patches, but as far as “this feature doesn’t work” type of things, it’s going to just be if Microsoft feels a need to help us out.
There are our options moving forward. If you’re like most, you can sit on it for several years waiting for that end of extended support to force you to move forward. If you want to be a bit more proactive, there are viable options. Windows Server 2016 still has another three and a half years of mainstream support, and Windows Server 2019 is imminent any day now. These OSes, paired with Windows Admin Center, can create a very powerful new environment.
If you’re a brave soul, you can also go with the Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel. This gives you all the latest and greatest features of Windows Server, but mainstream support only lasts 18 months instead of seven years, and there’s no extended support. The premise of Semi-Annual Channel is that you update regularly with each update being smaller and less impactful instead of major upgrades changing from one version to another. Semi-Annual Channel also is Server Core only, but when paired with Windows Admin Center, this isn’t as big of a problem as it used to be.
So, what’s your takeaway? In short, keep things updated. When you do an upgrade of a server, use it as an opportunity to plan the next update. All the little annoying things you find as you try to upgrade, start documenting them so that in another three to five years when you try to do the next upgrade, you know what to expect ahead of time. As always, we’re here to help plan, or implement the upgrades.