RESELLERS now have more time and flexibility to plan migrating their customers to newer versions of Microsoft applications, as the vendor has updated its product support life-cycle policy.
Under the new policy, Microsoft has lengthened the extended support phase for its business and developer software from three to five years. This phase takes effect either after an initial five-year period of mainstream support or two years after the release of subsequent versions of a product, whichever is longer.
“This would give customers a minimum of 10 years of support,” says Microsoft New Zealand services director Dave Thompson, adding that customers now have more predictability and flexibility in planning product upgrades.
Thompson hopes the changes will be received favourably by Microsoft customers and partners in New Zealand, who have in the past raised concerns over not having enough time to plan for migration.
“People get nervous when it gets down to six or eight or 12 months before support finishes — we are providing more support because we think it is realistic that people need that time to do the planning to move.”
Rick Hook of integrator Gen-i’s software solutions group agrees that the changes give users more flexibly around product upgrades. “Customers can plan for slower migrations and [extend] the longevity of legacy applications.”
However, Hook says the extended support should not be seen as a reason to hold on to older systems that are no longer productive.
“The business benefits of new technology can outweigh staying on older platforms.”
Products such as the Office 2003 family released last year will have some level of support until at least 2013 under the updated policy, which also covers other business and developer software that are currently in the initial mainstream support phase.
Microsoft Business Solutions, consumer, hardware and multimedia products are not affected, as they do not receive extended support.