April 14, 2010

Microsoft to start providing 'limited troubleshooting' for unsupported service packs

Under a new support policy, Microsoft will begin providing limited break/fix troubleshooting to customers running unsupported service packs.

Microsoft officials announced the new service pack (SP) support policy on April 13 via the company’s Support Lifecycle blog.

Via the new policy — which Microsoft instituted based on customer and partner feedback over the past few years, according to the post — customers will be able to obtain support in the following manner:

1. Break/fix support incidents will be provided through Microsoft Customer Service and Support; and through Microsoft’s managed support offerings (such as Premier Support).

2. There will be no option to engage Microsoft’s product development resources, and technical workarounds may be limited or not available.

3. If the support incident requires escalation to development for further guidance, requires a hotfix, or requires a security update, customers will be asked to upgrade to a supported service pack.

Under the previous service-pack support policy, once a service pack reached the end of support, customers couldn’t get any troubleshooting help from Microsoft unless they upgraded to a supported service pack. They weren’t allowed to get telephone support, security updates or non-security hot fixes, period. This end of support date comes after a period of free support, followed by a period of paid support (the time periods of which vary for different Microsoft products).

The ultimate goal, even with the new policy, is to get users to move to a supported service pack. As company officials noted in the blog post, “Staying on a supported service pack is the only way to ensure that you get continued access to security updates and the ability to escalate your support issues within Microsoft.”

Meanwhile, a quick reminder for those who are still running the RTM version of Windows Vista that support from Microsoft ends today (April 13). The end-of-support deadline does not apply to those running Vista with Service Pack (SP) 1 or SP2 installed.

Source: Mary-Jo Foley

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