26 May 2004 Microsoft has promised to support its key products for at least a decade, following pressure from major customers.
Under the new product lifecycle policy, which comes into effect in June 2004, Microsoft will provide customers with at least 10 years of support, the first five years of which will be free. Microsoft’s current policy is to support operating systems free for five years, followed by two years of fee-based support.
The new policy will cover all Microsoft’s mainstream business and developer products.
Many organisations had complained that Microsoft will no longer support products that they are still using, such as Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition (SE) and Windows Millennium Edition (ME). Some believe that Microsoft’s policy is intended to force them to upgrade to newer products.
But that strategy had only ended up alienating customers, suggested Peter Pawlak, a senior analyst at Directions of Microsoft. “Products aren’t turning over as much as they used to, so Microsoft finally decided that they would just have to move up the general support time.”
The updated support lifecycle policy primarily affects business and developer products that are currently in the mainstream support phase, as well as future products.