Originally published: August 24, 2016
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What is the difference between Mainstream and Extended Support?
To see a table that outlines the support phases for the Fixed Policy, see the Fixed Lifecycle Policy.
Who can receive support in the Extended Support phase?
Extended Support is available to all customers. Extended Support is not offered for consumer software (excluding desktop operating system software), multimedia products, online services or products governed by the Modern Policy. To see what is included in the Extended Support phase, go to the Fixed Lifecycle Policy.
Microsoft will not accept requests for warranty support, design changes, or new features during the Extended Support phase.
If I am running a Microsoft product that is currently supported under the Fixed Policy, but my operating system is no longer supported, can I still receive support?
If the problem is specific to the Microsoft product and it is within the Fixed Policy, Microsoft will provide support. If the problem is a result of the combination of the operating system and the Microsoft product, the problem will not be supported.
What is the Lifecycle Policy for service packs?
To receive technical support and security updates for a Microsoft product, the Microsoft Fixed Lifecycle Policy requires that the product's supported service pack be installed. Go here to view the Fixed Lifecycle Policy.
For information about support for a product or for a service pack, search the product lifecycle database.
How does the Fixed Lifecycle Policy work with Unified Support?
In the Mainstream Support phase, product support benefits are available to all customers. In the Extended Support phase, security updates are provided to all customers and paid assisted support is available. Extended Hotfix Support is required to request non-security updates for products in Extended Support. Unified Support is a prerequisite for Extended Hotfix Support. Customers with Unified Support can work with their support contact to determine the options that are available for their specific circumstances.
How can customers and partners estimate the lifecycle for products and services?
The Fixed Lifecycle Policy is designed to take the guesswork out of determining the length of time Microsoft provides support and servicing for a product. In most situations, Microsoft provides a minimum of 10 years of support. The lifecycle combines 5 years of Mainstream Support and 5 years of Extended Support. For consumer software and multimedia products, Microsoft offers a minimum of 5 years of Mainstream Support. Extended Support is not offered for consumer software, multimedia products, or products governed by the Modern Policy.
For information about lifecycle dates, search the product lifecycle database.
Is there a different Lifecycle Policy for consumers and businesses for the Windows operating system?
All desktop operating system products, whether used for personal or business purposes, receive a minimum of 10 years of support under the Fixed Policy. This includes 5 years of Mainstream Support and 5 years of Extended Support on the latest service pack or update. Microsoft does not differentiate support between consumer and business versions of desktop operating system products.
What is the Lifecycle Policy for minor releases of major products?
Minor releases follow the same lifecycle as the major product release.
An example of this is Windows Server 2012 R2 which has the same Mainstream and Extended Support phase as the parent product, Windows Server 2012. Likewise, Dynamics AX 2012 R3 follows the same lifecycle dates as the initial release of Dynamics AX 2012.
How is a component supported under the Fixed Lifecycle Policy?
A component receives the same support as its parent product or platform. When a parent product or platform is in Mainstream, or Extended Support, so is the component. When a parent product or platform reaches the end of support, so does the component.
For example: If a component is licensed for Microsoft Windows, support ends for the component on the same date that support ends for Windows.
Sometimes a component will receive security updates or feature enhancements that are independent of its parent product. We encourage customers to install component updates as they become available.
What is the Lifecycle Policy for program add-ons?
Add-ons are supported along with the product they work with. However, support may be terminated by providing a minimum of 12 months' notice.
What is the Lifecycle Policy for program tools?
Tools are supported along with the product they work with. However, support may be terminated by providing a minimum of 12 months' notice.
I do not need non-security updates; I only need phone support during the Extended Support phase. Must I have Extended Hotfix Support?
No. Extended Hotfix Support is not necessary to obtain technical support for a product in the Extended Support phase.
Will Microsoft offer support beyond Extended Support?
Microsoft understands that local laws, market conditions, and support requirements differ around the world and differ by industry sector. Therefore, Microsoft may offer support and/or servicing options that go beyond Extended Support. These options may include assisted support, security and/or non-security updates and may extend beyond the Lifecycle end of support date.
After the Microsoft assisted and paid support offerings have ended, what are my options?
Microsoft encourages all customers to remain current to ensure they stay supported and can take advantage of innovations found in the latest products. Staying current also minimizes security risks, compliance risks, and frequently lowers the total cost of ownership.
Once a product transitions out of Extended Support, no further support will be provided unless an Extended Security Update (ESU) program is available for that product. Go here to learn more about ESUs. If ESUs are not offered, customers will not have access to:
Security updates or non-security hotfixes
Free or paid assisted support options
Microsoft product development resources
Updates to online content (Knowledge Base articles, etc.)
Online content may be available if the product is still within the Self-Help Support phase.
What is Microsoft's policy on security updates?
Microsoft is committed to providing products with improved security. Our long-term goal is to remove security vulnerabilities from all our products before they are released. Although we strive to remove vulnerabilities during development, software vulnerabilities remain a fact today and we must be prepared to respond when they are discovered. Microsoft advises customers to install the latest product releases and updates, security updates, and service packs to remain as secure as possible. Microsoft may be unable to provide security updates for older products, leaving them at risk in the face of more demanding security requirements. For the latest information on security advisories and bulletins, please visit our Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC).
How long do you provide security updates for your products?
Security updates will be provided for the duration of the product's lifecycle.
For more information about the support and servicing timeline for a specific product, search the Lifecycle Product Database.
Must I have the latest service pack installed to apply a security-related update or an update that is not security-related?
An update should only be installed on the service pack for which it was designed. Microsoft creates security updates for supported service packs whenever commercially reasonable and available to all customers. You can request an update that is not security-related for service packs that are supported per the Fixed Lifecycle Policy.
Is Unified Support required for customers to receive security updates?
No. If a security update is created, it will be made available to all customers through the standard security release process, for the duration of that product's lifecycle. The monthly security release occurs on the second Tuesday of the month.
Would Microsoft ever release non-security updates during Extended Support without Unified Support?
Yes. Microsoft Lifecycle Policy permits the creation and broad distribution of certain non-security updates during the Extended Support phase. For example, it may be necessary to provide a non-security update that enables continued connectivity and servicing through the Automatic Update or Windows Server Update Service.
What happens if Microsoft releases a security update the same day a product reaches the end of support?
If Microsoft releases a security update on the same day a product is scheduled to end its lifecycle, the security update will be provided to customers. Support of the security update will continue for a minimum of 30 days.
For customers who are entitled to receive security updates past the end of support, support will be provided for a minimum of 30 days after a security update is released.