Microsoft announced yesterday that the company will expand its product-support life cycle to a minimum of 10 years for its business and developer products, extending the support for many of its products by at least 2 years. With this announcement, which the company made at the Microsoft TechEd 2004 trade show in San Diego, Microsoft says it hopes to make its product-support time line more predictable to meet the changing needs of its business customers.
"Both the original and updated Microsoft support life-cycle policy were the result of the company's dedication to continually listening and acting on customer needs," Microsoft Corporate Vice President Andrew Lees said. "We have heard our customers' requests and are quickly expanding and enhancing the policy to provide a minimum total of 10 years of support for business and developer products."
Under the terms of the new support policy for business and developer products, Microsoft will provide at least 5 years of mainstream support after the date of general availability or 2 years past the release of the next version of the product, whichever is longer. Thus, customers will always have a minimum of 2 years to migrate to the next version.
The product-support extension will immediately benefit two high-profile products. With the release of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 slipping from mid-2004 to mid-2005, support for the earlier version, SQL Server 2000, would have ended before many customers had a chance to upgrade. And customers would have faced the same problem with Windows XP, which shipped in 2001 and won't see a major upgrade until Longhorn, the next major version of Windows, ships sometime in 2006. Now, users of both products will have time to plot their migrations, even if both upgrades suffer further delays.
Microsoft's new support policy applies to currently available business and developer products that are still in their mainstream support phases. But the new policy doesn't apply to the company's consumer, multimedia, or hardware products, Microsoft says.