Microsoft Update: Let’s start by defining what a service pack is. As part of the effort to continually improve Microsoft software, updates and fixes are created and released for recognized issues. Many of these fixes and others are combined into a single package (called a service pack) that is made available for installation. This can include updates for system reliability, program compatibility and security. The product Microsoft is talking about ending support for in this case is the original release of Windows Vista – one with no service packs installed. To set some context, the current service packs for Vista is SP2, which is available at no cost for customers. If you are running anything less, than you’re missing important free updates for your PC that can make your PC safer and run better.
Apart from Vista RTM reaching end of support, let us talk about the changes to the Service Pack Support policy:
Under the former Service Pack Support policy, when a service pack reached the end of support, customers were no longer eligible to receive troubleshooting help from Microsoft Customer Service and Support, including assisted telephone support, security updates, or non-security hotfixes. Customers requiring assistance from Microsoft had to upgrade to a supported service pack to be eligible for any support.
Many customers asked for the ability to receive troubleshooting support from Microsoft on unsupported service packs, if the product itself is still in the Mainstream Support phase or Extended Support phase. Their general opinion was that if they are experiencing issues, Microsoft should provide limited support or migration assistance for the unsupported service pack.
Microsoft has listened carefully to this feedback and, as a result, updated the Service Pack Support policy to provide customers with limited troubleshooting on unsupported service pack versions. So, what does “limited troubleshooting” actually mean? The new Service Pack Support policy enables customers to obtain support as follows:
- Break/fix support incidents will be provided through Microsoft Customer Service and Support; and through Microsoft’s managed support offerings (such as Premier Support).
- There will be no option to engage Microsoft’s product development resources, and technical workarounds may be limited or not available.
- If the support incident requires escalation to development for further guidance, requires a hotfix, or requires a security update, customers will be asked to upgrade to a supported service pack.
Customers are highly encouraged to stay on a supported service pack to ensure they are on the latest and most secure version of their product. This is especially important for those customers running business critical applications. Staying on a supported service pack is the only way to ensure that you get continued access to security updates and the ability to escalate your support issues within Microsoft.