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Microsoft Restructures Custom Support Agreements

Microsoft announced this week it has restructured its Custom Support Agreement (CSA) program for legacy products to provide large customers with more options when it comes time to begin migrating off of products for which long-term support has expired.

"The new program was developed after six months of research and customer feedback and provides customers with the option of having longer support timeframes," a Microsoft spokeswoman said in an e-mail. "As a result, they will have more flexibility and control over how quickly they transition from one product version to another, as they consider their specific budgetary and/or IT requirements."

Under the restructured plan, customers will be able to migrate their systems based on their specific situations, taking into consideration the CSA costs and Microsoft's Support Lifecycle. They can choose how quickly they move from one product version to another according to their budgetary and IT requirements. The new model also aims to streamline pricing so that customers pay only for what they need.

Other benefits of the restructured program include problem resolution for the legacy product, distribution of security hotfixes for vulnerabilities labeled as critical and important by the Microsoft Security Response Center, access to databases of security and nonsecurity hotfixes produced during the Mainstream Support phase, and the ability to request nonsecurity hotfixes for new bugs (for an additional fee).

CSAs are only available to customers who have Premier Support agreements in place.

For business and development products, Microsoft provides a total of 10 years of mainstream and extended support. After that, the company only provides support through CSAs, which can be expensive.

Mainstream Support, which runs for five years, includes no-charge incident support, paid incident support, support charged on an hourly basis, support for warranty claims and hotfix support.

Following the end of Mainstream Support, Extended Support is available for an additional five years, which includes all paid support options, as well as security-related hotfix support at no charge. Non-security-related hotfix support requires a separate Extended Hotfix Support contract to be purchased within 90 days after Mainstream Support ends, according to company statements.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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