Microsoft Workloads on AWS

Know your AWS options for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 End of Support

Think big. Think long-term.

Operational excellence is not achieved with one project or one solution. It requires infrastructure and operations leaders to have a zoomed-out view for the entire organization and plan strategically. When it comes to legacy workloads such as Microsoft Windows Server, there is no exception. It is imperative to think about where and how these workloads will evolve to best support the future of your business.

By now, Windows Server customers should be familiar with the pattern of Microsoft regularly ending support and requiring upgrades every few years. As of this writing, the most imminent of these events is the end of support (EOS) for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2, with an EOS date of October 10, 2023. This means that after October 10th, customers will no longer receive security updates, making their infrastructure and applications vulnerable. Forced decision points like this EOS event creates a unique opportunity for you to think about the future state of your business, evaluate your options and alternatives, and determine which path is right for you.

In this blog post, I will walk through a few common pathways AWS designed to help address the Windows Server end-of-support challenge by migrating, optimizing and modernizing these workloads, enabling our customers to take full advantage of the cloud and propel business innovations.

Short-term Band-Aid solution vs. long-term cloud excellence

Let’s face it – a Band-Aid approach will not cut it if you want to address the recurring end-of-support challenges. Microsoft is incentivizing customers facing EOS to migrate to Azure by offering three years of free Extended Security Updates (ESUs). This may sound like a generous offer, but it is only a temporary fix. In fact, it just delays the inevitable and forces you to be stuck with legacy software, reducing your ability to modernize and innovate faster. Before you make a decision that can impact your long-term business and operational goals, don’t you owe it to yourself and your organization to evaluate your options?

Outcome-driven pathways AWS customers take to address the EOS challenge

AWS champions a track record of making it easier and more cost-effective for you to accelerate the migration, optimization, and modernization of your Windows Server workloads. Let’s take a look at the business benefits for each pathway – migrate, optimize, and modernize:

  • Migrate – Achieve quick wins by migrating and upgrading end-of-support Windows Server workloads

This straightforward migrate-and-upgrade path offers a quick win opportunity if you want to take advantage of the cloud and upgrade with minimal effort. Moving to the cloud is no longer a question of if, but a question of when and how. With the upcoming Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 end of support, now is a perfect time to achieve quick wins by migrating and upgrading your end-of-support Windows Server workloads to AWS before October 10, 2023.

Most customers start this process by going through a free AWS Optimization and Licensing Assessment (AWS OLA). Our customers rely on this assessment to make data-driven migration decisions based on actual resource utilization, licensing considerations, and application dependencies, making sure they provision the exact amount of cloud resources and software licenses they need. For instance, Parsons reduced operating costs by 35% using this assessment. “Our migration was seamless and simple because of the tools and the intelligence that came from Migration Evaluator and the AWS OLA,” says Jai Kasinathan, director of cloud and productivity applications at Parsons Corporation.

Windows Server 2012 Amazon Machine Image (AMI) is available on AWS through October 10, 2023. Customers can move their Windows Server 2012 workloads to AWS either through the License Included (LI) option or Bring Your Own License (BYOL). Services such as AWS Application Migration Service and AWS Migration Hub Orchestrator can help you automate the migration process with no code changes. After migration, you can take advantage of automated upgrades with AWS Systems Manager Automation runbooks to upgrade end-of-support workloads to newer, supported versions. We have created this video to show how it works.

For applications that are incompatible with newer versions of Windows Server OS, AWS offers the End-of-Support Migration Program for Windows Server to future-proof your legacy Windows Server applications on AWS.

  • Optimize – Take advantage of cloud flexibility and efficiency through continuous optimization

This pathway goes beyond lift-and-shift and helps you continuously optimize costs, usage, and licensing to suit your business needs. Cloud is about flexibility and efficiency. In some cases, it’s not all about growth, and customers appreciate the ability to expand easily and even shrink in the cloud. In the face of global economic uncertainty, customers are becoming more financially prudent on cloud spending.

AWS can help in two areas – licensing optimization and infrastructure optimization – before, during and after your cloud migration. For licensing optimization, AWS offers a free Optimization and Licensing Assessment (AWS OLA) to both new and existing customers that can help you save, on average, 45% on SQL Server and 77% on Windows Server licensing costs, according to an Enterprise Strategy Group research. On the infrastructure optimization front, AWS offers ongoing infrastructure optimization for your workloads through services such as AWS Compute Optimizer to rightsize your workloads and reduce costs by up to 25%.

With dedicated services, tools, and programs, AWS has been focusing on delivering cost optimization and has earned the trust from millions of our customers.

  • Modernize – Accelerate business innovations by modernizing Windows Server workloads

Windows Server EOS presents an ideal time to consider your broader transformation goals and evaluate whether Windows Server OS is the optimal platform to meet them. As organizations transform their business and operations in the cloud, AWS plays a critical role of providing purpose-built and open-source technologies to modernize their Windows workloads, helping customers unlock innovation speed and break free from the software upgrade and refresh cycles.

Customers across industries are modernizing their Windows workloads on AWS to reap the benefits of the cloud. It’s not just our enterprise and startup customers like Autodesk and SeatGeek taking this path, but government agencies such as Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts (AR-AOC) was able to achieve their .NET modernization goals and saved 40% on their total cost of ownership (TCO). Some of the modernization options available for Windows Server include:

    • Replatform to Windows containers. This is a common approach for commercial off-the-shelf applications, where refactoring is not an option because of a lack of bandwidth and skill sets, or the source code is not available. In these cases, moving to Windows containers is a great option. This helps our customers increase the density and utilization of their infrastructure, achieve consistency across environments, control the boundaries of their applications, and facilitate the adoption of DevOps practices with a common set of tooling.
    • Refactor and move to open-source Linux. In scenarios where customers want to break free from Microsoft licenses, or where Windows is no longer a business requirement, AWS provides a pathway to refactor applications from .NET Framework to .NET Core/.NET 6+, and port them to open-source Linux. This helps customers move away from expensive licenses and adopt open-source alternatives, driving total cost of ownership (TCO) reduction and innovation. Customers often combine decomposition and porting in their process of moving to the cross-platform version of .NET and Linux. This enables them to break off pieces of monolithic applications and iteratively transition those pieces to microservices and Linux.

“We continue to move our source code to .NET Core, and soon we will move away from Windows to Linux, which will enable us to save 30% on licensing costs.” says Aram Sargsyan, CEO of Fileforce. “Using AWS gives us the agility and scalability we need to grow our business while controlling costs.”

Moving to the cross-platform version of .NET also brings access to the latest innovations from AWS, such as AWS Graviton2 instances, which are 20% less expensive per hour than Intel x86 instances with up to 40% better performance.

    • Rearchitect to event-driven and serverless architecture. This approach offloads infrastructure management tasks like capacity provisioning and patching so that organizations can focus on only writing code that serves their customers. The Coca-Cola Company and Thomson Reuters have chosen this approach to modernize their most business-critical applications that will be actively developed, improved, and scaled in the future.


Although Windows Server EOS creates challenges for some customers, it creates opportunities for infrastructure and operations leaders to think big and long-term for their business and operations, opening doors to unlimited possibilities to migrate, optimize and modernize with AWS.

AWS has been running Windows Server workloads since 2008, longer than any other cloud provider, providing unmatched experience, maturity, reliability, security, and performance you can depend upon. Millions of customers continue to choose AWS for migrating and modernizing Windows Server workloads for the best price/performance, flexible licensing options, lower TCO, more migration support, and the broadest and deepest cloud capabilities.

I encourage you to download this eBook where we dive deeper and provide further guidance on how to navigate the Windows Server end of support challenge. Let’s make Windows Server end of support the start of your AWS cloud journey.

AWS can help you assess how your company can get the most out of cloud. Join the millions of AWS customers that trust us to migrate and modernize their most important applications in the cloud. To learn more on modernizing Windows Server or SQL Server, visit Windows on AWSContact us to start your modernization journey today.

Frank Wang

Frank Wang

Frank Wang is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS) in California supporting enterprise Microsoft workloads. He has more than 10 years of experience and specializes in product marketing and technical writing. In non-tech mode, he is an aviation enthusiast and a Real Madrid soccer fan.