Migrating from Windows 2003 to 2008 R2 or 2012

I am currently in the process of upgrading our Domain controllers from Windows 2003 R2 to Windows 2008 R2 but want to know if it would be OK to just upgrade to Windows 2012. We currently have an Exchange 2003 server in our environment and I don't know if Windows 2012 will play well with this old version of Exchange. I believe I can only upgrade to Windows 2008 R2 successfully without impacting Exchange 2003 but want to make sure.
TimSr. System AdminAsked:
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TimSr. System AdminAuthor Commented:
I must also note that I will be migrating from a Windows 2003 R2 x86 to Windows 2008 R2 x64. What steps should I take to promote the 2008 server to primary D.C.?
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Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
correct, you can go as far as 2008 R2
exchange 2003 does not support windows 2012 domain controllers

you can't do in-place upgrade of windows as cross-architecture (32bit to 64bit) is not supported
you will need a new installation of 2008 R2, run adprep32 on the 2003 R2 server, etc.

Adding first Windows Server 2008 R2 Domain Controller within Windows 2003 network
http://kpytko.pl/2011/08/25/adding-first-windows-server-2008-r2-domain-controller-within-windows-2003-network/
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Rob GMicrosoft Systems EngineerCommented:
I would STRONGLY suggest you get new hardware, and instead of upgrading, just run the 2k8R2 server side by side with the 2k3 one for a few weeks to a month, and then demote the 2k3 server.
The issues you will run into upgrading are typically not only a nightmare, but they vary depending on what else you have in the environment.. Trust me, you would be better off running a new server side by side, then upgrading it.. While the upgrade process itself isn't horrible.. The What group policy is breaking my login is not fun to figure out when you have the boss breathing down your neck..
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hecgomrecCommented:
I have to disagree with Seth as I have performed migrations having 2003 to 2012 with no problems.

Of course to accomplish this you will need to plan ahead not just to complete the task but to respect your budget.

If you decide to keep your actual exchange, you will need only 1 box for your new 2012 DC.

Main steps:

Introduce your new 2012 in the organization (no SysPrep needed)
Move non critical roles DHCP, DNS, etc.
Move FSMO and make the server main DC, GC
Update firewall settings to point to new server's IP address if needed (RAS, RDP, etc.)
Demote old 2003
Remove old 2003

If you are moving all your environment out of 2003, you will need at least 2 boxes  (if you don't go virtual), 1 for your main DC as described above and another one for your new Exchange server 2007 or 2010 (2010 recommended).
If your goal is to get your exchange to 2013 then you might be able to use the old 2003 DC box for your "middle" server as you can't migrate exchange 2003 to 2013 without going first into one of the previous versions.

Main steps for 2007 or 2010:

Introduce a new 2012 in the organization as a member only (DC not recommended by MS but you can have it)
Install Exchange 2007 or 2010
Make new Exchange your main mail server by changing Firewall and DNS settings
Migrate Exchange 2003 to 2007/2010
Remove Exchange 2003
Remove Server 2003

Main step for 2013:

Perform previous steps plus repeat process for another machine to hold the Exchange 2013.


Here are some step by step:

Server 2003 to 2008/2012: http://www.petenetlive.com/KB/Article/0000239.htm

Exchange 2003 to 2010:   http://www.petenetlive.com/KB/Article/0000234.htm

Exchange 2010 to 2013: http://www.petenetlive.com/KB/Article/0000788.htm (3 part article)
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