Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mainstream Support Ends

This month, we pass a significant milestone for the 2002-2003 era products. Microsoft offers mainstream support for its products for 5 years. At the end of 5 years, the support scales back; at the end of 10 years support scales back again to almost nothing. This is not unique to Microsoft all software vendors have similar programs and restrictions.

The products that have fallen over the cliff into extended support are:

  • Exchange 2003 & Outlook 2003
  • Server 2003 & SBS 2003
  • Windows XP
  • Office 2003

You are probably using some of these. What we have lost for support options are some of the free stuff.

  • Requests to change product design and features
  • Non-security hotfixes
  • Complimentary support (phone and online support options) included with your licenses, licensing program, and other no-charge support programs

    What this means in lay person terms is that if a feature stops working, whether or not it is due to a security fix, there will not be a repair for it; it’s just broke. We can also no longer call and get free support for issues with these products that do have fixes available. Support calls to Microsoft for these products cost $250 per question before 6pm and $500 after 6pm week days.

    Why do software companies do this? Because things change. When these programs were written they weren’t designed to work with the current hardware; it wasn’t designed to tolerate other current software; there weren’t the same security issues that there are today and of course because they released new products a couple of years ago and so all of their support, engineering and development staff is focused there. Over time they lose the brain trust necessary to keep the old things working and you just can’t train new people on old stuff.

    We’re still well versed in the old stuff but our job gets a lot more difficult when we lose vendor support and this results in an increase is associated support costs.

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