Is Windows Server 2012 still supported?

Windows Server 2012 is under Extended support as of now. The mainstream support for Windows Server 2012 expired in November 2018. The extended support plan adds five years to the Windows Server 2012 support. We look at the various options available for you after the expiry of extended support on Windows Server 2012.

Windows Server 2012 Lifecycle dates

Windows Server 2012 follows a fixed lifecycle pattern and it is supported for a period of 10 years from the date of its original release. We list the essential lifecycle dates of Windows Server 2012 below.

  • Windows Server 2012 was released on October 30, 2012.
  • The mainstream server support lasts for 5 years from the date of the original release. It expired on October 9, 2018.
  • Once the mainstream ends, the extended support initiates. Microsoft supports Windows Server 2012 for a period of 5 years as part of the extended support. Extended support for Windows Server 2012 will end on 10th October 2023. This leaves you with nearly a year of extended support for Windows Server 2012 as we write this.
  • As part of extended support on Windows Server 2012, you will get the security-only updates without any costs. You could choose to buy non-security updates for performance improvements.

Once the extended support ends on 10th October 2023, you would have multiple options to retain the server or upgrade it. The following options are available after the end of extended support on Windows Server 2012:

  • You can choose to upgrade Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • Once upgraded to Windows Server 2012 R2, you can choose to perform an in-place upgrade to Windows Server 2019 or Windows Server 2022.
  • If you are unwilling to upgrade, you could choose to extend support for Windows Server 2012 by a period between one to three years. This can be done by buying the Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2012.

We look at the Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2012.

Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2012

Extended security updates for Windows Server 2012 can be bought as part of volume licensing. The important points about Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2012 are mentioned below:

  • You can choose to buy Extended Security Updates for a period that could be one year, two years, or three years.
  • Extended Security Updates can be bought using the Volume Licensing model of Microsoft.
  • The first year’s Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2012 costs 75% of the Windows Server 2012 license. The first Extended Security Update will commence on October 11, 2023. It will end on October 8, 2024.
  • The second year’s Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2012 will cost you 100% of the license cost. The second-year Extended Security Updates will commence on October 9, 2024, and end on 14th October, 2025.
  • The third year’s Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2012 will cost you 125% of the license cost. It will commence on 15th October 2025 and coverage will end on 13th October 2026.

The Extended Security Update for Windows Server 2012 can help you to extend support coverage until 13th October, 2026. However, you will still need to pay the full license costs over a 3 year period.

As part of Extended Security Updates, you will be entitled to get security updates that are marked as ‘Critical’ or ‘Important’. No design requests or performance updates are available as part of the Extended Security Updates program of Microsoft.

How can I get Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2012?

Once you have bought the Extended Security Updates through Microsoft’s volume licensing program, you will be given a unique MAK key. MAK keys are given within a week’s time of buying the Extended Security Updates (ESU). MAK or Multiple Activation Key is a unique key that can be applied to the Windows Server 2012 server. It sets up the servers to accept the ESU updates

You will need to add the MAK key on Windows Server 2012. Once the servers have the MAK key identifier, they can connect to Microsoft servers to access the Extended Security Updates.

Extended Security Updates can be applied manually. You cannot use Windows Update for automatic patching of Windows Server 2012 through the Extended Security Updates.

Extended Security Updates will entitle you to patch Windows Server 2012 for critical or important security threats and vulnerabilities. Patching the Windows Server 2012 with ESU updates will ensure that the servers remain secured in light of the emerging threats.

Extended Security Updates vs Upgrade to Windows Server 2022?

Extended Security Updates are designed to help you extend support for legacy applications that can only work on the Windows Server 2012. Upgrading to a more recent version of Windows Server 2022 is a better option. But, ESUs are useful for enterprises that are constrained to support legacy applications. Having said that, you still need to take steps to ensure that the legacy applications become compatible with newer Windows Server versions. Eventually, at some point of time, you will need to move to a new Windows Server version that is under active mainstream server support.

Summary

Windows Server 2012 will become the end of life in October 2023. You could choose to extend the security coverage on Windows Server 2012 by a period that could last between one to three years. It would be prudent to talk to an MSP and use the volume licensing mode to buy Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2012.

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