Windows Print Server 2003 R2 End of Life

Posted by Jordan Lindsey

Are you ready for Microsoft’s pending end-of-life (EOL) for support of Windows Server 2003/R2, which ends on July 14, 2015? What does this mean?

Essentially, this means no more updates, no savings, no compliance, and no safe haven. Which is not the usual comfort zone for most IT departments. So the question is, how are you going to upgrade your 2003/R2 print server to 2008/R2 or 2012/R2?

Microsoft released 37 critical updates for Windows Server 2003 in 2013. Hackers, phishers and many others delight at the sight of an EOL announcement for any Microsoft products. This means that any enterprise that doesn’t upgrade their print servers will be exposed to new threats moving forward.

If that 2003 server crashes tomorrow or 9 months from now when support ends, what are you going to do? Find new hardware for that old machine? Reinstall the OS, and place a clone back in place? What risk are you accepting by keeping the old OS and Hardware in your environment?

Depending on the industry, you may not be in compliance with many required standards. How are you going to implement new products, bring in new software, and set up new services when the servers you have are not supported anymore? Do you want to report back to the CTO or Sales Manager to explain why your infrastructure is not up to code, why you can’t implement that new product or why you are getting turned down for a big sales opportunity because you’re not compliant?

If you don’t upgrade, you will also lose compliance with Microsoft, which is critical for their partner programs. Are you a Microsoft Gold Partner? Are you selling and using their products to sell your software to customers? Microsoft will not grant you compliance if you are running unsafe, outdated products that have a direct impact on your infrastructure.

Microsoft gives you a few options to migrate your 2003/R2 server to 2008/R2 and 2012/R2. Some are great, some are easy, and some are just downright unpleasant. It’s best to explore the migration of 2003/R2 server now, so that you have no need to panic about the EOL when July 14, 2015 comes rolling around.

Microsoft does offer a Printer Migration Tool. This will take you through a wizard which allows you to export your print queues and drivers, then import them on the new server. Not a bad choice and not too difficult of a solution, provided you don’t have errors or configuration issues. But the bigger question is, do you really want print servers anymore?

Let’s be honest, you kept your 2003/R2 server this long because you didn’t want to touch it. But what is the end user transition going to be like? Do they just get to start printing with a seamless transition, with no problems? And how are you getting your 64-bit drivers and preferences set up? You now have to modify every print queue, on each server you have, with it’s corresponding driver. Are you lucky enough to use a universal driver or do you need a manufacturer driver for specific capabilities? The questions go on and on when it comes to migrating your 2003 print server.

But there is a better solution. Simply do not upgrade your print servers at all!

What are you going to do instead, you might ask? Start using PrinterLogic. PrinterLogic allows you to copy all your print queues, drivers, printing preferences and printer information by simply clicking on a print queue through our web-based application. PrinterLogic can be run a physical or virtual 2008/R2 or newer OS. IT IS NOT A PRINT SERVER! We are going to throw your old print server out the window when this is done.

So how do you simply migrate out of a print server environment without losing what you have?

Simple—as mentioned before, you selected all your print queues, press a green arrow and watch all your print queues copy into PrinterLogic. Once this is finished, you now deploy a small 7mb client out to your workstations via SCCM, GPO, etc. which runs as a system service. When this client installs, it will then silently auto-detect all Windows shared printers and convert them into Direct IP printers. And it will grab control of any already-installed Direct IP printers, too.

You may now turn off and trash that 2003 print server, take a huge sigh of relief that you never have to deal with a print server again in your life, then login to the on-premise, web-based PrinterLogic app to manage all print queues, drivers, printing preferences and automatic printer installs (with Active Directory integration). The client handles everything on each person workstation, keeps everything in sync with the administrative side and users with restricted computer permissions may install their own printers with floor plan maps, all from a web page.

You can please your end users, save costs on running multiple print servers, reduce WAN traffic, simplify upgrades and patching, and eliminate the single point of failure caused by your print servers. You can now sleep at night knowing you will never again get a phone call at 1:00 a.m. that the print server is down and no can print.