In the modern workplace, more and more of our infrastructure, platforms and apps run in the cloud. For those organisations running legacy systems, this can bring complex and urgent problems as support for them is discontinued.
Content+Cloud’s Director of Sales Expertise Peter Wilson examines what Microsoft’s end of support means for you, and highlights what action you need to take, and by when.
What does Microsoft End of Support mean?
Once a product reaches its ‘extended support end date’ there will be no patches, security updates or support from Microsoft without an additional purchase.
If you’re using any of the products which are affected and do nothing, it’s almost certain that your risks around security and compliance will increase, which may also impact productivity. These risks will only grow over time, so it’s vital you take action. Content+Cloud is here to help.
Why does Microsoft end support for its products?
Simply, it’s so that they can focus their investment on supporting newer and better technologies and improved user experiences.
What Microsoft product is coming to the end of its support?
Microsoft has announced the end of support for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 on 10th October 2023.
You can check the full details for the support milestone dates for your Microsoft products by visiting the Microsoft Support lifecycle website.
What are your options?
Fundamentally, we recommend modernising your workplace. Get modern and up to date by upgrading your workloads to the latest Windows Desktop, Server or Application versions and move them to a Modern Device or Azure.
For older desktop devices, we recommend moving to an in-support operating system and adding the Content+Cloud Managed Device service. This ensures that your devices stay up to date both for the OS and in terms of other security features.
If there are technical reasons why you can’t modernise your workplace, you have two core options – or you could decide to do nothing. What you choose to do will depend on the circumstances and needs of your organisation and users.
Here are your options, together with additional information for different applications:
- Relocate your workloads to Azure: if you have an application or infrastructure constraint that’s keeping you on a legacy version, you’ll receive Extended Security Updates by running your workloads on the Azure platform.
- Move your applications and data to a new, up-to-date server. Consider this a short-term plan until you’re ready to modernise and simplify your IT.
- Do nothing: the sky isn’t going to fall in when Microsoft’s support ends, but your systems and applications will be increasingly vulnerable to cyber risk. Your workloads will be unsupported, and assistance will be very limited should they fail
Advice for your pre-Windows 10 end-user compute workloads
If you’re running Windows 8 or an older version of Windows 10 on your desktop computers or in a VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) environment, we strongly advise that you move to the latest Windows 11 build. This will equip your users with the most productive and secure Windows desktop to date.
Windows 11 has a full feature update twice a year and improves with each release – so seize this opportunity to take advantage of the security, productivity and management capabilities available.
If something is preventing you from upgrading to Windows 11, you could migrate your older Windows workloads to Azure inside a VDI environment such as Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) or Windows 365. You’ll get the Extended Security Updates for free, so your legacy workloads will be supported while you transition to Windows 11.
Finally, if you can’t move your workloads to Azure, you can buy the Extended Security Update add-on for your physical workstations. This is costly, however, and won’t mitigate the other risks of using legacy devices.
Advice for your server workloads – Windows Server, SQL Server and Exchange Server
You will need to assess the environment your server is running in – physical or virtual – and the applications running on top of your server operating system.
The modern approach is to migrate your application workloads to a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environment. The cloud is evergreen and allows you to scale up or down as required, paying only for what you consume. Exchange Online as part of Microsoft 365 or Azure SQL Database are great examples of Microsoft’s modern approach to mainstream server applications.
If you need to keep your operating system running on the same version, you can migrate your workloads to Microsoft Azure and get Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates for a further three years. Microsoft advises moving your Windows Server Operating Systems and SQL Server Applications.
You could also look at upgrading the server(s) in your offices or data centres to hardware running the latest version of Windows Server. However, this is expensive when you consider the server and client access licences as well as the power, cooling and responsibilities of maintaining your hardware. Instead, we recommend upgrading your workloads and migrating them directly to Azure.
Explore our managed cloud services
We’ve helped hundreds of organisations to modernise and move to the cloud; we have the scale, knowledge and years of experience to guide you. Our managed cloud services portfolio includes:
- Azure Public Cloud and if you’re not quite ready to make the leap, consider a phased approach;
- Hybrid Cloud – move what you can to the cloud now, while continuing to manage your legacy applications.
If you’d like guidance on the best plan for your organisation or support for your journey, contact us today.
A quick note about Windows 11
Windows 11 is moving to a single yearly update vs Windows 10 is updated twice a year. Microsoft maintains support for the current and previous two feature updates for Windows 11 before support is retired.
One date to note for the future is the Windows 10 end of life, which has been published as 14th October 2025. Content+Cloud is working with many organisations now to move to Windows 11 well ahead of this end of life, and would be happy to work with you to help you on this process.
Microsoft End of Support: help and resources
So that you can quickly access trusted links and current guidance, we’ve compiled this list of helpful information to assist you in getting to grips with Microsoft’s end of life process:
- Microsoft Lifecycle FAQ – Windows products
- Microsoft Windows for Business – learn more about Windows 10 editions.
- Microsoft announcement on Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 reaching end of support
- Microsoft’s Service Pack Lifecycle Policy
- Microsoft Search by product name or time range for life cycle information
- Microsoft Azure Windows Virtual Desktop
- Microsoft Azure SQL Database
- Microsoft overview of Security Updates for Windows Server