Microsoft will be soon withdrawing support for Exchange 2003 and some other related products, like Outlook 2003, or Windows XP. The extended support phase for these platforms ends April 8, 2014 as announced on TechNet Blogs by one of Microsoft’s senior engineers. If you still use Exchange 2003 as a base of your email system it is right about time you thought about upgrading to Exchange 2013 or Office 365.
End of support – what does it mean?
After April 8 2014 all Exchange 2003 admins will have to rely on tech content available on the Internet in terms of technical issues. Microsoft will no longer release any security updates or bug fixes. Users won’t be able to submit feature requests or benefit from paid support options anymore. If anything goes wrong, you will have to rely on the community, or solve the problem by yourself. The extended support phase is simply coming to its end. Our good old friend Exchange Server 2003 is also going to retire soon.
2014 – year of server migrations
Taking all that into account, it seems that the year 2014 will host a number of Exchange Server migrations. Many companies simply cannot afford to risk using a product that is no longer supported by the manufacturer. What’s more, some of them, especially government-related institutions, aren’t allowed to use such software, because of legal restraints in their countries. Migrating to Exchange 2013, or Office 365 within the next year seems to be the only solution for them. If you still use Exchange 2003, this may apply to you too.
Migrate Exchange 2003 directly to Exchange 2013
When speaking about Exchange Server 2003 migrations, there’s one important thing you should be aware of. Currently there is no direct native path for moving from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2013. The recommended path involves upgrading to Exchange 2010 and then moving to Exchange 2013. This process is called staged migration and is something that cannot be omitted, unless you use a 3rd party tool.
CodeTwo Exchange Migration is a migration tool that can save you a lot of headaches when migrating to Exchange 2013. The program will let you move your users from Exchange 2003 directly to Exchange 2013, without the need to pre-install Exchange 2007, or Exchange 2010 first.
Give the Cloud a chance
Since the release of Exchange 2003 over ten years ago, the approach to IT has changed a lot. The fast growing market of Cloud-based services delivered a number of solutions that cannot be ignored by any IT professional these days. Office 365 seems to be one of the leaders and offers a number of subscription plans with Exchange Online and Lync Online onboard. The Cloud offer of the Redmond-based corporation can be especially attractive to companies with limited budgets and few IT staff, looking for a way to reduce costs.
Migration from Exchange 2003 directly to Office 365
If you decide to move your users from Exchange 2003 to Office 365, you should definitely try out CodeTwo Office 365 Migration which will let you migrate all users’ mailboxes directly to Office 365, even from Exchange 2003. What’s more, the program is offered completely free of charge to all paid Office 365 subscribers.
Make your choice before April 2014
Administrators have to decide by themselves where to go from Exchange 2003. It goes without saying that, if you plan to migrate from your old email platform next year, by April 8 2014 the decision should be already made. Exchange Server migration is a difficult and time-consuming project and it is a good idea to plan things ahead and thoroughly research the topic first. Using the right resources and choosing the right migration tools will help you make a smooth transition to a new email platform next year.