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Microsoft Holds the Line on Custom Support Pricing

Microsoft changed course on its "custom support" policy by holding down a routine price increase this year. Custom support is an option for enterprises that want continued help with aging Microsoft applications that are at the end of Microsoft's lifecycle support terms.

A Feb. 11 revision to Microsoft's help and support page states that "In response to the current market downturn and customer needs, Microsoft will NOT increase the price of Custom Support in 2009, but will maintain the 2008 pricing." A blog post by veteran Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley noted the change.

Typically, Microsoft provides five years of "mainstream support" and five years of "extended support" for business and developer products. Security updates are free and continuous throughout this 10-year period, but Microsoft has varying charges for technical support in this time.

Consumer products just get five years of mainstream support except if they are annually released, in which case, they get three years of mainstream support.

Custom support typically happens after extended support for a product ends, according to a Microsoft lifecycle policy FAQ.

"Microsoft offers custom support relationships that go beyond the Extended Support phase," the FAQ explains. "These custom support relationships may include assisted support and hotfix support, and may extend beyond 10 years from the date a product becomes generally available."

Microsoft's partners may be the parties providing the custom support, the FAQ added.

Microsoft charges an annual enrollment fee for custom support. Normally, Microsoft would increase this fee each year, but not this time. Microsoft publishes its custom support prices three years in advance.

Extended support will end next year for a number of Microsoft products. Products where custom support might be needed include Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2000 Professional, as well as Windows XP Service Pack 2. All of these products will lose extended support on July 13, 2010.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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