December 8, 2023

End of support for Windows Server 2012 R2: Why you can’t ignore it

Businesses are constantly faced with the challenge of modernizing their IT infrastructure. A core component in many corporate networks is Windows Server. The 2012 R2 version was and continues to be a popular choice even after its successors have been released, but now the end of extended support is imminent. What does this mean specifically for existing users and what switching options are available to them?


Once a server product leaves Microsoft’s doors, its end-of-life is already set. Microsoft has long divided this into “end of mainstream support” and “end of extended support.” Mainstream support for Windows Server 2012 R2 expired on October 9, 2018. Customers who want to continue receiving support purchase Extended Support and receive an additional five years of security patches and support. That deadline is now On October 10, 2023 receipt. But even then, for many customers, it is still convenient to keep the infrastructure running and not upgrade. So, even after the end of life, Microsoft offers another end of life as part of the Extended Security Update (ESU for short) program.

The end of support has far-reaching implications for companies still using this version – and must be carefully considered.

First and foremost, there are the security risks, because without regular security updates and patches, systems become vulnerable to security vulnerabilities. Hackers actively look for outdated popular systems to exploit vulnerabilities. Companies that use unpatched systems expose themselves to significant security risks. Especially with a popular server operating system like Windows Server 2012 R2, attackers’ initial focus will be on this.

Another point that should not be ignored for companies is compliance: these requirements are especially important in regulated industries. Using an unsupported operating system can cause significant compliance issues and legal consequences.

Businesses tend to underestimate Microsoft support because they haven’t had to use it yet. Now this is also no longer applicable and when problems arise, Microsoft relies on this clause and refuses support. This means that companies are on their own. This can lead to longer downtimes and even IT downtime, and can therefore be a critical cost factor.

Microsoft’s discontinuation of support also includes support for third-party products. Even if it is necessary to maintain systems due to legacy applications that run only on Windows Server 2012 R2, this does not mean that other manufacturers are also experiencing stagnation in the development of their products. It can quickly happen that software that was still working the day before is no longer compatible due to an update from the manufacturer and stops working.

In the end, it remains the same: the IT landscape is constantly evolving and outdated technology can cause companies to lose touch with new developments and innovations. This can have a long-term impact on a company’s competitiveness.

Windows Server 2012 R2 users should therefore carefully consider whether they will continue to rely on a system that is now outdated – because the disadvantages clearly outweigh the advantages. They have to make the change sooner or later anyway. iX will explain the options available in a follow-up article tomorrow.

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