As part of its April update to its Microsoft Support Lifecycle Web site, Microsoft made a couple of adjustments to its security and overall product-support policies.
On the security front, Microsoft is moving more of its security fixes and updates under Microsoft Update. As explained on the company's support site:
"Under the Security Update Download process, Microsoft previously provided security updates for Business and Developer products via Microsoft Update during the five years of the Mainstream Support phase, and the first two years of Extended Support. The remaining three years of Extended Support required customers to obtain the security updates from the Microsoft Download Center rather than via Microsoft Update.
"With the clarification to the Security Update Download process, the Extended Support phase has been modified to include Microsoft Security Updates via Microsoft Update for the full five years of Extended Support. Due to technical limitations in Microsoft Office 2000, updates for customers will not be available via Microsoft Update, which will remain an exception to this updated policy."
In terms of overall support, Microsoft clarified its policies for "minor" product releases. In short, minor product releases will be supported under the same terms as the major product which precedes them. (In other words, Windows Server 2003 R2 will be supported for the same length of time as Windows Server 2003.) As detailed on the Technet Blog site for the U.S. Higher Education West Region ATU:
"In the past, Microsoft has supported products in the same product family by using the same support timeline. In the majority of the cases, the support timeline has not been an issue, as products in the same family have been released around the same time. However, when minor products have been released at a later date, customers have experienced confusion in determining the support end date. Microsoft is clarifying the policy around the release of these minor products today.
"Moving forward, Microsoft products will be classified as either major or minor products. Minor products will take on the support timeline of the major product, while major products will always restart the Microsoft Support Lifecycle clock. Microsoft will continue to publish the support timeline of all products on the external site http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle."
Additionally, a few Microsoft products are about to move into a different support phase in 2007, Among the ones of which customers should be aware:
* Windows Server 2003 SP (Service Pack 0, a k a, release to manufacturing version) moves to "non-supported" status on April 10, 2007
* Windows XP Embedded SP1 moves to "non-supported" status on April 10, 2007
* Visual Studio .Net 2002 moves from mainstream to "extended" support on July 10, 2007
* Software Update Services (SUS) 1.0 and 1.0 SP1 move to "non-supported" status on July 10, 2007
* SQL Server 2000 SP3a moves to "non-supported" status on July 10, 2007
* Great Plains 8.0 and 8.0 Standard move from mainstream to "non-supported" status on October 9, 2007
(Microsoft's Extended support is paid, not free (except for security hotfixes) and is available for business and developer software only.)
Anyone affected -- either positively or negatively -- by any of these changes?