Citing the "challenging economic conditions currently confronting enterprise customers," Microsoft is planning to hold pricing constant on its "custom support" agreements through the end of 2009.
Custom support includes fees that Microsoft requires business users to pay when they are interested in continuing Microsoft-provided support for products and technologies that Redmond is phasing out.
For instance, if a business customer wants Microsoft to provide support for Windows XP SP2 beyond Microsoft's cut-off date, they can pay Microsoft to do so via a custom support agreement.
(As Microsoft explains in more detail in the fine print of its lifecycle support page: "(C)ustom support relationships may include assisted support and hotfix support, and may extend beyond 10 years from the date a product becomes generally available. Strategic Microsoft partners may also offer support beyond the Extended Support phase.")
According to a note posted on February 17 to its "Help and Support" Web site, Microsoft usually increases each year the price it charges users for custom support. From the site:
"Pricing for Custom Support includes an annual enrollment fee that normally escalates YOY (year over year), with the pricing published three years in advance. However, in response to the current market downturn and customer needs, Microsoft will NOT increase the price of Custom Support in 2009, but will maintain the 2008 pricing."
Customers with custom-support agreements will hear directly from their Microsoft account managers about the change, Microsoft officials said.