Problems with SP1? Have some free support

Vista users encountering problems when they upgrade to SP1 can breathe out: the company is giving away free support for those installing the service pack.

Vista users encountering problems when they upgrade to SP1 can breathe out: the company is giving away free support for those installing the service pack.

The transition to the service pack has not been problem free for many users, with issues such as computers falling into endless reboot cycles and broken applications rearing their head.

Normally, only Vista users who bought the product retail would be eligible for free support, but for SP1 installation even users with an OEM copy of Vista on their computer can get Microsoft's help, according to the official Vista blog.

"We are offering free-of-charge support to *anyone* who is having issues installing Windows Vista SP1," Microsoft blogger Brandon Le Blanc said.

Unlimited installation and compatibility support is available at no charge until 18 March, 2009, according to the Microsoft SP1 support site.

There are three options available under the free support plan for US users: e-mail support, which will be answered within one business day; online chat, which has a current waiting time of around 40 minutes and call, only available for users who have a software assurance agreement, professional contract, TechNet subscription, MSDN subscription or come under the Microsoft Partner Program.

A spokesperson for Microsoft said free support will also be available for Australians, using the e-mail or call option. "[Support staff] will try and solve the problem free of charge if they know the answer and can step a consumer through the problem on the phone. They will also direct people to a number of complimentary options also to get help (eg forums, knowledge bulletins). If the problem is considerable and not easily resolved, then they will be directed to a Microsoft Technician for in-depth support. There is a flat AU$80 consultation fee to solve the problem," a Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet.com.au

What constitutes "considerable" can't be easily defined, the spokesperson said. It would be handled on a case by case basis, the spokesperson continued and the user will always be advised if costs are to ensue.

Whether enterprise customers will also receive support without cost will depend on their agreement, the spokesperson added.

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