What is the best path to upgrade w2k3 servers and DC to windows 2008

Posted on 2008-11-14
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
I have 4 windows 2003 servers in the domain and I am going to upgrade them (in-place)  to windows 2008. I wonder if I could get some advices on what is the best path to do this job.
The server details:
1. DC1: running w2k3 server R2 standard x64 version with sp2. This is basically the file server and printer server. It is a domain controller and  DNS server .
2. DC2: running w2k3 server R2 standard x32 version with sp2. It is domain controller, DHCP server, DNS and WINS server. It has Exchange server 2003 running on it.
3. VMware server : It's a member server running w2k3 server R2 enterprise x64 version with sp2. It has VMware server installed.
4. Database server: It's a member server running w2k3 R2 enterprise x32 version with sp2. It has SQL server 2005 enterprise version installed.

I am bit worry about the DC2 which has Exchange 2003 installed.

And advice would be much appreciated.

Question by:brothertu
    LVL 58

    Expert Comment



    You won't be able to in-place upgrade the Exchange Server due to a few limitations. Windows Server 2008 ONLY supports Exchange Server 2007 SP1, and Exchange 2007 requires a 64-bit Operating System to be installed upon. Since the currently have the 32-bit Server 2003 installed on DC2, and you cannot upgrade cross-architectures - essentially a 32-bit to 64-bit upgrade is not supported. You would need to move Exchange off DC2, uninstall Exchange, demote DC2 from its Domain Controller role, format it (you cannot upgrade to 64-bit edition to run Exchange 2007), then repromote the server and install Exchange 2007 SP1. You can then transition to Exchange 2007 as per the 3 articles at

    As for the other servers, they should in-place upgrade, provided you don't go cross-architectures. I.e., install 32-bit Server 2008 on the present 32-bit servers, 64-bit Server 2008 on the existing 64-bit servers (VMWare and DC1).

    Let me know if you have any questions,

    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Hi tigermatt,
    Thank you very much. That part of upgrade Exchange 2003 is exactly what I want to confirm.

    Would it be a problem if I just upgrade the other three servers but leave DC2 as w2k3?   Then I will have a win2008 domain controller (DC1) and a win2003 domain controller (DC2). Would that be a problem?

    LVL 58

    Accepted Solution


    No. That wouldn't be a problem. Exchange, since it is installed on a DC, will only use the local DC for Active Directory lookups anyway, so it wouldn't cause issues what you do to other DCs. The only two points to remember are that because Exchange is installed on a DC:

    1. NEVER run dcpromo on the Exchange Server - it will break Exchange
    2. Ensure the Exchange Server DC is also a Global Catalog (it would be at present anyway since Exchange is working).

    Other than that, you could safely upgrade the other servers. You'd need to adprep /forestprep, adprep /domainprep and adprep /domainprep /gpprep before you run the in-place upgrade. See Also, the only other thing I'd point out is ensure you can source Server 2008 drivers for the hardware in the servers to be upgraded, primarily the storage controller, because you may find you have to do a repair install after the upgrade with updated storage / RAID controller drivers to get Server 2008 to detect your RAID arrays.

    As always, do make sure you have a good backup just in case.

    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Then I will leave DC2 as win2003 and not touched, until next time we upgrade the hardware of it.
    Thanks lot for your suggestion.

    I am going to upgrade one of the member servers (the SQL server one) this weekend and DC1 next weekend.

    I will download the win2008 drivers for the other three servers. I have read an articles saying got blue screen after upgrade win2008 from win2003, I guess that was what you mentioned--the storage controller driver problem.

    I appreciate very much for your time and kind help. You have clearly answered my original question: the best path to upgrade my servers.

    LVL 1

    Author Closing Comment

    Many thanks!

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