One year after its demise, Windows Server 2003 is hanging around

Quite a few Windows 2003 servers remain, but they aren't terribly important to their owners

Windows Server 2003 is still hanging around

Microsoft officially ended support for Windows Server 2003 a year ago, and there was a major push to get people off the aging operating system and onto something new all through 2014 and 2015. But the zombie OS lives on mostly because people feel no urgency to get rid of it.

Spiceworks, the helpdesk and monitoring provider, released a survey focused on virtualization but with a few OS tidbits as well.

Virtualization use

According to Spiceworks' 2016 State of IT report, more than 76 percent of organizations today use virtualization, and another 9 percent expect to adopt it in the coming years.

VMware appears to be hanging in there despite the push from Microsoft. According to anonymized, aggregated usage data provided by IT pros across the globe, 71 percent of organizations use VMware's vSphere ESXi, compared to a 23 percent adoption rate for Microsoft Hyper-V. Only 6 percent of organizations use other hypervisors, such as Citrix XenServer.

Spiceworks found that large enterprises in particular favor VMware ESXi compared to small businesses. It found 59 percent of the smallest companies use VMware ESXi compared to 82 percent of the biggest companies. Smaller organizations are more likely to use Hyper-V than enterprises. For example, 43 percent of the smallest organizations utilize Hyper-V, but only 38 percent of the largest companies use it.

That's not surprising, since Hyper-V comes with Windows Server 2012, so smaller companies would likely take advantage of the freebie that comes with their server. Then again, smaller companies are also the ones moving lock, stock and barrel to the cloud and are less likely to deploy in-house servers these days.

Server deployments

In terms of server deployments, Spiceworks found Windows Server 2008 at the head of the pack by a wide margin, with 45 percent of companies using the OS, followed by Server 2012 at 24 percent, Server 2003 at 18 percent and other Linux (not Red Hat) at 11 percent.

Spiceworks found the majority of companies (53 percent) still have at least one instance of the abandoned server OS running in the server room. Last September, Spiceworks found 60 percent of firms still had Server 2003 deployed. Why the slow march? A number of reasons: no immediate need, lack of time, and budget constraints, which is what they were saying a year ago. Server 2003 is probably sitting in a corner doing mundane work on a non-critical old server, so they don't worry about it.

The question now becomes with Windows Server 2008 meeting its end of life in 2020, what will the server landscape look like in four years with Server 2008 the most ubiquitous server OS out there? It may prove tougher to uproot than Server 2003.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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