Windows Server 2003

By Alasdair Lumsden on 16 Jun 2009

Windows Server 2003 is now over 6 years old. Yet, we’re still asked by clients for new Windows Server 2003 installations, despite Windows Server 2008 coming out last year. I find this quite interesting, because Windows Server 2008 is a great product, and IIS 7.0 offers many significant advantages over IIS 6.0 (Such as native URL rewriting).

I’d say the biggest driver of this is that people fear the unknown – Server 2008 is somewhat new and people just don’t have the time to try it out. However, the situation in the Windows ecosphere is significantly different to what we encounter in the Linux & Unix world. For example, nobody would dare consider installing a Linux distribution that’s 6 years old.

CentOS first came out with version 2 in May 2005, Debian 3.0 “Woody” came out in 2002 (there wasn’t another release until 2005). Ubuntu didn’t even come out until 2005. All shipped with the Linux 2.4 kernel, and Apache 1.3, by default. Nobody in their right mind would run any of these distributions today.

So why then, do people continue to install Windows Server 2003? Why? For the following reasons:

  • Windows Server 2003 was a very strong release
  • Windows Server 2003 meets most peoples requirements
  • .NET 2.0, .NET 3.0 and .NET 3.5 all run fine on Windows Server 2003
  • Microsoft have released a FastCGI module for IIS 6.0, and there are numerous URL Rewrite options for Server 2003
  • People are wary of new Microsoft releases (Take Vista for example)

That’s not to say I approve of installing Windows Server 2003. It goes out of general support in 2010, which is but one year away. Windows Server 2008 is a great product with many fantastic new features built in. But I have a nagging feeling Windows Server 2003 will be with us for a long time to come. It’s just too simple, too clean and too elegant to disappear.