Windows Server 2008 will receive Mainstream Support from Microsoft until Jan. 15, 2015. It was originally set to expire on July 9, 2013. In extending the deadline, the software maker said it was just following its own rules.
"The Microsoft policy provides a minimum of five years of Mainstream Support or two years of Mainstream Support after the successor product ships, whichever is longer," said Sonya Fagerness, director for Microsoft Support Lifecycle, in a bulletin. "Organizations that are currently running Systems Management Windows Server 2008 should note the new dates, when Mainstream Support and Extended Support end."
Windows Server 2008's successor, Windows Server 2012, shipped on Sept. 4.
Mainstream Support entitles users to free patches, fixes, and updates. Under Extended Support, only security patches are free, though customers can choose to purchase additional support options.
[ Learn more about Windows Server 2012. Read 5 Reasons To Like Windows Server 2012. ]
Fagerness, meanwhile, is reminding users that Microsoft intends to discontinue all support, Mainstream and Extended, for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. "Migration efforts should be well underway," she said. "We recommend that customers running computers with Windows XP take action and update or upgrade their PCs before the end-of-support date."
That advice could leave a lot of IT managers scrambling. During a keynote at last year's BUILD conference, Windows group president Steven Sinofsky said that more than half of all Windows users in the consumer market are now using Windows 7. He didn't provide a figure for the enterprise market, but most analysts believe the majority of businesses continue to use Windows XP.
The question facing IT departments still running Windows XP is whether to upgrade to Windows 7, or jump directly to Windows 8. The enterprise version of Windows 8 should be compatible with enterprise and commercial apps written for older versions of Windows, including XP. The same is true for any Intel or AMD-based tablet running Windows 8.
The tablet-only version of Windows 8, known as Windows RT, will only run new apps that have been specifically written for it. That's because Windows RT runs only on systems that use ARM-based mobile chips, which have significant architectural differences from x86 platforms.
Microsoft is offering commercial customers a number of free tools, including the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and Desktop Optimization Pack, to help them manage the migration off of XP.