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Lars Ahlgren, senior marketing manager at Microsoft, said products were previously supported for five years. The new Support Lifecycle policy allows for five years of mainstream support from the date of a product's general availability with an option to purchase extended support during the two years following mainstream support.
There are, however, limitations with extended support compared with mainstream support. For a start, all support incidents are charged and is limited. Ahlgren said, "We are committed to making a reasonable effort," when Microsoft is notified of a problem. But, he added, "There is no escalation process," so users of older products covered by extended support may find it difficult obtaining hotfixes for problems they encounter.
He said the main driver for extending support was to provide users with accurate information on the level of support they would receive from Microsoft. A list of the state of support for all products can be found at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=fh;en-us;obsoletewin.
The list shows that people on Windows 95 have only until the end of the month before all forms of support run out. Ahlgren said with products that have service packs, Microsoft would support the most recent service pack together with the previous service pack release.