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Desperate Microsoft PAYS Win Server 2003 laggards to jump ship

2.5 million machines hold Redmond back

Exclusive Microsoft is paying customers to dump Windows Server 2003, The Register has learned.

The software giant is so desperate for the thousands who missed its July 14 extended support cut-off date to get off the legacy server operating system, it’s decided to start eating the costs.

Microsoft is giving away Windows Server 2012 licenses for a year, funding analysis of customers’ work to assess Windows Server 2003 migrations – and it’s paying bills charged by third parties to execute migrations, an integrator source has told The Reg.

In some instances, the reduced Windows Server 2012 licenses are being seen as a reduction in cost of a Windows Server Custom Support Agreement (CSA). Customers who sign a Microsoft CSA continue to receive security fixes and patches – but for a price.

Gartner vice president Carl Claunch told The Reg that CSAs start at $300,000 for the first year, regardless of how few Windows Server 2003 machines you have. The price goes up by 50 per cent in the second year.

Actual CSAs discounts are being offered based on volume – size of customers’ server estates. “It’s standard discount stuff,” Claunch told The Reg.

“Of all the clients I speak to, a third are in serious analysis for a CSA,” Claunch reckoned.

Cash to kick Windows Server 2003 is being channelled into accounts from Microsoft’s sales people, who are allocating money faster to customers who express an interest in Azure rather than more on-premise kit with Windows Server 2012.

Getting laggards off Windows Server 2003 has become a top priority for Microsoft.

Claunch reckons 2.5 million physical servers worldwide overshot Microsoft’s July-14-end-of-support date; a number that excludes virtual servers.

The Register’s source calculated that more than 50 companies in the UK’s FTSE 500 are each running “thousands” of machines loaded with Windows Server 2003.

Microsoft has determined it’s better to take a hit now as customers will more than pay it back over the long term by consuming services on Azure or by buying additional Windows Server software and applications. But maintaining Windows Server 2003 – even for CSA-paying organisations – would divert vital resources from Microsoft's bigger corporate priorities.

“The most pressing requirement for developers is to get Windows 10 and successor products out the door so they can gain market share in tablets and smart phones,” Claunch said. “It’s critical they focus on that as every developer providing security patches for Windows Server 2003 is not available for this essential battle.”

The Reg’s integrator source told us: “Microsoft is keen to help pay them [customers] to move. They want shot of it – they are committed to getting Microsoft customers off an unsupported version of Windows. They don’t want to support it.”

A spokesperson for Microsoft told The Reg it had “nothing to share.” ®

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