As you may already know, Microsoft provides a dedicated technical support service for its software solutions. One nuance in its operation is that the duration of support is always fixed and based on the following “tariff plan”: the initial product support lasts 5 years, after which another 5 years of extended support come into play.
The same rule applies to MS Dynamics AX extended support which ends on October 1, 2023. In this article, we described what will happen when mainstream support ends for Dynamics AX. Today, our goal is to describe the Microsoft extended support concept in general.
Microsoft extended support allows companies and regular users to continue using software whose updates have been discontinued but are firmly integrated with the existing corporate systems. So, in a nutshell: what is Microsoft extended support, what are the costs, and how does this service differ from Mainstream support? Let’s find out.
The Main Differences: Mainstream Support vs Extended Support
When a Microsoft software product comes into public use, the company provides basic 5-year support, which includes the following features:
- Design and functionality customizations;
- Security modifications;
- Updates to security mechanisms;
- Paid 24/7 tech support;
- Free software issue maintenance;
- Full warranty;
- Microsoft database with product documentation;
Most of these options and capabilities are free to owners of licensed software (however, this does not apply to situations where the user wants to somehow modify the functionality offered by Microsoft by default – in this case, he/she will have to pay accordingly).
Any software malfunctions/technical defects that are the fault of Microsoft, are to be corrected by technical support as quickly as possible and completely free of charge.
Extended Support specifics
The essence of what Windows extended support lies in the continued support of products that go out of date or whose licenses have expired. During this prolonged phase of support, owners receive the following services, as and when they are needed:
- Non-security modifications;
- Updates to security mechanisms;
- Paid tech support (where pricing depends on the complexity of each particular issue and the amount of work required to solve them);
- Microsoft database with info on products and documentation.
If we consider mainstream vs extended support: in the latter case, users don’t get any free-of-charge support. But they can still access the centralized database and order most services at their respective prices.
Based on the above-said, the major difference, when evaluating Microsoft mainstream vs extended support, is that eventually, you have to start paying for service that used to be free.
This is due to the fact that the Microsoft team can only afford to provide free support when a product is in the ‘spotlight’ (i.e. their flagship release – usually their most advanced, and ultimately most marketable product) and the specialists work to constantly improve it. Regular support provides regular real user feedback, which is very valuable for timely “polishing” of software performance and design. This period is implicitly defined by the “five-year rule”.
Surely, continuous improvement may take longer than five years, but it ceases to be the primary focus and therefore is carried out based on individual user feedback and reviews. So be prepared to pay if you want your 5 (or more)-year-old Microsoft software to remain stable and secure.
Who Benefits from Extended Support?
Microsoft extended support prolongs the main support period for a software solution, but it does mean new costs to a business. Nevertheless, it will remain vital for those users who cannot afford to do without specific Microsoft products, which have been efficiently implementing critical task solutions over the years. Some tools simply become part of a global ecosystem that, without the necessary capabilities, will begin to crumble and/or cause costly downtime.
This type of support is especially crucial in cases where the problem needs to be fixed urgently and remotely. Yes, it will come at a cost, but considering the possible losses that may be incurred in the event of downtime, paying for prompt service is likely to prove more cost-effective.
As to the likelihood (and window of opportunity) of utilizing the extended support service – each new version of a software product from Microsoft comes out every 3-4 years. After its product lifecycle is complete, it will take about a year for the Microsoft team to stop supporting it.
We hope we helped you figure out the differences between Microsoft mainstream support vs extended support. We know this topic attracts much attention especially since we provide support and maintenance of MS Dynamics AX, which will soon be unsupported by Microsoft.
We specialize in implementing and customizing existing ERP systems based on Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management (formerly known as Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations) as well as on all versions of Dynamics AX (even those already discontinued by Microsoft support). Let us help you tailor your software performance to your particular business needs and boost your efficiency in no time.