Windows Server 2012 R2 End of Life: What is “Extended Support”

Windows Server 2012 R2 End of life deadline (October 10, 2023) is almost there. After this date, Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 will stop receiving regular patches or critical security updates, making their security and compliance a top concern.

As the upgrade process often takes over a year, we urge users not to delay the transition any further. Microsoft recommends the latest rolling version, which for Windows Server 2012 or 2012 R2 would be Windows Server 2019.

The article below discusses standard and extended support, end of support, what to do if you need to continue using Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 after end of life, and Moreover.

What is Extended Support? What does end of support mean?

Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 follow the fixed lifecycle policy, where Microsoft provides 5 years of mainstream support and 5 years of extended support.

A product receives everything types of updates and support during the Mainstream Support Period, while during the Extended Support Period it stop receiving non-security updates. After the end of the extended support period, a product reaches the final stage, i.e. the end of support.

If needed, users can subscribe to a premium plan called Extended Security Update to continue receiving updates and support for up to 3 years after the end of the extended support period. But for those who do not participate in this program, there will be no patches or security updates once the product reaches end of support.

General public support

The Mainstream Support phase refers to the first 5 years of a product’s lifecycle. During this period, the product receives feature updates, security patches, and service packs. Users can also request non-security updates, incident support, or product feature changes.

For Windows Server 2012 R2, the main support phase ran from 2013-11-25 to 2018-10-09.

Extended support

The Extended Support phase refers to the last 5 years of a product’s lifecycle. During this period, a product only receives security updates and users can no longer request new design changes or non-security updates.

Windows Server 2012 R2 is currently in Extended Support.

End of support

As noted, once a product reaches the end-of-life phase, Microsoft will stop providing most forms of updates and support for it, making it a security risk.

For customers who are still in the upgrade process or those who need to continue using legacy products, Microsoft offers one final option: the Extended Security Update (ESU) program.

The end of life date for Windows Server 2012 R2 is 10/10/2023.

Extended Security Update (ESU)

ESU is essentially a premium plan where users will continue to receive critical security updates until 3 years after the end of the extended support phase. If you choose to migrate to Azure, you will receive these updates for free.

But for those running Windows Server on-premises, you’ll need to purchase Extended Security Updates every year. The corresponding cost will correspond to a certain percentage of the cost of the latest version of Windows Server, as shown in the table below.

Year Start date End date Price
Year 1 Extended Security Update October 11, 2023 October 8, 2024 75% of license cost
Year 2 Extended Security Update October 9, 2024 October 14, 2025 100% of license cost
Year 3 Extended Security Update October 15, 2025 October 13, 2026 125% of license cost

the Upside down to this plan is that you won’t have to worry about your server security during the transition, and as you upgrade parts of your server, you won’t need to keep paying for it year round next.

On the other hand, the inconvenience is that if you opt for this plan late (2nd or 3rd year), you will also have to pay for the updates of the previous years.

For any other questions, we recommend visiting Microsoft’s Extended FAQ page, Extended Security Updates and Windows Server 2012 End of Support FAQ.

Which version of Windows Server should you upgrade to?

Windows Server can be upgraded through a maximum of two versions. The latest evolutionary release for Windows Server 2012 R2 is Windows Server 2019.

Why can’t I continue to use Windows Server 2012 R2?

As mentioned, once Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 reach the EOL phase, they will no longer receive critical security updates. This places them at a increased risk of cyberattacks and non-compliance. The option to receive a few more years of security updates comes at a premium.

To add to this, newer versions like Windows Server 2019 and 2022 simply offer way more features and better performance.

And if you’re still not convinced to move away from Windows Server 2012 R2, this article on exploiting vulnerabilities might change your mind.

How to upgrade Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2019?

There are many ways to deploy a new Windows server. But when we talk about upgrading, we are specifically talking about a in-place upgrade. An in-place upgrade is the best option for most people because you can upgrade while keeping the same hardware and configurations.

server-configuration-windows-2019

We recommend reading Windows Server 2012 R2 through 2019 for detailed instructions on what to do before, during, and after the upgrade process.

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