Part 6: Windows Server 2003 End-of-Support | The Modernization of Windows Server 2012 R2

Welcome back to the Windows Server 2003 EOS blog series.  This week we’re reviewing one of the targets that you may be in the midst of modernizing and migrating workloads to, Windows Server 2012 R2. 

One of the challenges we regularly hear is that folks are still getting up to speed with the plethora of new features we released in Windows Server 2012 which was followed by Windows Server 2012 R2 a year later. In Windows Server 2012 R2, we added a staggering amount of new capabilities and features based on your feedback. Considering how much has changed in the last couple of releases, it’s understandably hard to keep track of all the new capabilities. (And, we also recently released a Technical Preview for Windows Server v.Next too…) We bring this up because if you’re used to Windows Server 2003 or even Windows Server 2008, you are missing out on huge advancements we’ve made in software defined compute, software defined storage and software defined networking. Before we discuss a few of these benefits, let’s step back and take one last look at the venerable Windows Server 2003 and what the state of servers looked like back then.

Windows Server 2003: A snapshot of the hardware

Windows Server 2003 was released in April 2003, here’s are a few things to consider…

  1. 32-bit processors were the standard (x86 servers); x64 processors were just coming to market.
  2. Server processors were single core and started at 133 Megahertz. (Compare that with your phone and tablet…)
  3. Power Management on servers was nearly non-existent.
  4. .Net 1.0 was released (we’ve come a long way since then…)
  5. Hard drives were measured in megabytes.
  6. Solid State Disks (SSDs) didn’t exist.
  7. Virtualization was a science project being used in test labs. There was no hardware support for virtualization.
  8. Clouds were described as cumulus, stratus, cirrus and nimbus, not public, private and hybrid.

We’ve come a long way since then. J Keep this in mind as you look to modernize and migrate older applications. Let’s start by discussing an often overlooked server technology, power management.

Server Power Management

Power management is easy to overlook, but the benefits are very real. If you still have physical servers running Windows Server 2003, keep in mind that power management wasn’t enabled meaning that a server running at low utilization (or even idle) would still consume a substantial amount of power. Compare that with a modern server that employs a variety of power management techniques (processor power management, PCI, memory, etc.) this can lower your monthly power bill in a very tangible way. Couple this with the ability to use your hardware more efficiently by running multiple workloads virtualized in Hyper-V and the savings grow further.


Windows Server 2003 was the first release of .Net and we’ve continued to deliver consistent innovation since then. The full list of upgrades and enhancements to .Net are too numerous to cover here in their entirety, but here are just a few of highlights of new features to consider…

ASP.NET 4.5 includes the following new features:

  • Support for new HTML5 form types.
  • Support for model binders in Web Forms. These let you bind data controls directly to data-access methods, and automatically convert user input to and from .NET Framework data types.
  • Support for unobtrusive JavaScript in client-side validation scripts.
  • Improved handling of client script through bundling and minification for improved page performance.
  • Integrated encoding routines from the AntiXSS library (previously an external library) to protect from cross-site scripting attacks.
  • Support for WebSockets protocol.

Parallel Computing
The .NET Framework 4 introduces a new programming model for writing multi-threaded and asynchronous code that greatly simplifies the work of application and library developers. The new model enables developers to write efficient, fine-grained, and scalable parallel code in a natural idiom without having to work directly with threads or the thread pool. The new System.Threading.Tasks namespace and other related types support this new model.

Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Features in 4.5
In the .NET Framework 4.5, the following features have been added to make it simpler to write and maintain Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) applications:

  • Simplification of generated configuration files.
  • Support for contract-first development.
  • Ability to configure ASP.NET compatibility mode more easily.
  • Changes in default transport property values to reduce the likelihood that you will have to set them.
  • Updates to the XmlDictionaryReaderQuotas class to reduce the likelihood that you will have to manually configure quotas for XML dictionary readers.
  • Validation of WCF configuration files by Visual Studio as part of the build process, so you can detect configuration errors before you run your application.
  • New asynchronous streaming support.
  • New HTTPS protocol mapping to make it easier to expose an endpoint over HTTPS with Internet Information Services (IIS).
  • Ability to generate metadata in a single WSDL document by appending ?singleWSDL to the service URL.
  • Websockets support to enable true bidirectional communication over ports 80 and 443 with performance characteristics similar to the TCP transport.
  • Support for configuring services in code.
  • XML Editor tooltips.

Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) Features in 4.5
Several new features have been added to Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) in the .NET Framework 4.5. These new features include:

  • State machine workflows, which were first introduced as part of the .NET Framework 4.0.1 (.NET Framework 4 Platform Update 1). This update included several new classes and activities that enabled developers to create state machine workflows. These classes and activities were updated for the .NET Framework 4.5 to include:
  • The ability to set breakpoints on states.
  • The ability to copy and paste transitions in the workflow designer.
  • Designer support for shared trigger transition creation.

…and the list goes on and on. To see a more detailed list here are a few key links on MSDN:

What’s New in the .Net Framework Version 2.0

Introducing the .Net Framework 3.0

What’s New in the .Net Framework 4.5, 4.5.1 and 4.5.2

An Overview of Performance Improvements in .Net 4.5

In our next blog we’re going to be reviewing the hybrid opportunities available to you when you adopt Microsoft Azure.   Until then, we urge you to visit our Windows Server 2003 EOS website and the Migration Planning Assistant so that you may identify the tools and partners that are available to assist you and to continue moving forward with your migration projects.  There are only 246 days until July 14, 2015!

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