Fixed Lifecycle Policy
Originally published: July 18, 2016
Updated: October 25, 2021
Please go here to search for your product's lifecycle.
The Fixed Lifecycle Policy applies to many commercial and some consumer products currently available through retail purchase and/or volume licensing. It provides:
- A defined support and servicing Lifecycle timeline at the time of product launch.
- A minimum of five years Mainstream Support.
- An additional period of Extended Support for some products.
See the Lifecycle product search for specific end of support dates and details.
To be eligible for support, customers may be required to deploy the latest Service Pack or update.
Microsoft is committed to providing products with improved security. 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, security updates, and service packs to remain as secure as possible. For the latest information on security updates, see the Security Update Guide. Older products may not meet today's more demanding security requirements. Microsoft may be unable to provide security updates for older products.
The Fixed Lifecycle Policy does not apply to all products. To see the specific support and servicing start and end dates by applicable product, go to the lifecycle product search.
Lifecycle phases for products under the Fixed Lifecycle Policy
|Type of support||Mainstream Support||Extended Support||Beyond End of Support|
|Request to change product design and features||Available||Not available||Not available|
|Security updates||Available||Available||Available via Extended Security Update Program|
|Non-security updates||Available||Available 1 via Unified Support||Not available|
|Self-help support 2||Available||Available||Available|
1 The Extended Hotfix Support (EHS) program offered via Unified Support is only available for a select group of products.
2 Self-Help Online Support is available throughout a product's lifecycle and for a minimum of 12 months after the product reaches the end of its support. Microsoft online Knowledge Base articles, FAQs, troubleshooting tools, and other resources, are provided to help customers resolve common issues.
3 To learn more, see Lifecycle FAQ - Extended Security Updates. Extended Security Update program required.
Mainstream Support is the first phase of the product lifecycle. At the supported service pack level, Mainstream Support for products and services includes *:
- Incident support (no-charge incident support, paid incident support, support charged on an hourly basis, support for warranty claims)
- Security update support
- The ability to request non-security updates
Incident support benefits included with license, licensing programs (such as Software Assurance or Visual Studio subscriptions) or other no-charge support programs are only available during the Mainstream Support phase.
Enrollment in a maintenance program may be required to receive these benefits for certain products.
The Extended Support phase follows Mainstream Support. At the supported service pack level, Extended Support includes:
Paid support 4
Security updates at no additional cost
Ability to request non-security fixes for select products, for eligible Unified Support customers. 5
Microsoft will not accept requests for warranty support, design changes, or new features during the Extended Support phase.
Extended Support is not available for consumer, consumer hardware, or multimedia products.
Enrollment in a paid support program may be required to receive these benefits for certain products.
4 Limited complimentary support may be available (varies by product).
5 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.
As part of the effort to continually improve Microsoft software, updates and fixes are created and released for recognized issues. Many of these fixes are regularly combined into a single package (called a service pack) that is made available for installation. Both the Mainstream Support and Extended Support phases for software require a product's supported service pack to be installed to continue to receive full support (including security and DST updates).
When a new service pack is released, Microsoft provides either 12 or 24 months of support for the previous service pack, varying according to the product family (for example, Windows, Office, Servers, or Developer tools).
When support for a service pack ends, Microsoft no longer provides new security updates, DST updates, or other non-security updates for that service pack. Commercially reasonable support will continue to be available, as described in the following.
When support for a product ends, support of all the service packs for that product also ends. The product's lifecycle supersedes the service pack policy.
Support timelines for service packs remain consistent within the product family.
Microsoft publishes specific support timelines for a previous service pack when the new service pack is released.
Customers are highly encouraged to stay on a fully supported service pack to ensure they are on the latest and most secure version of their product.
For customers on supported products with service pack versions that have left full support, Microsoft offers commercially reasonable support as follows:
Commercially reasonable support incidents will be provided through Microsoft Customer Service and Support and Microsoft managed support offerings (such as Premier Support). If the support incident requires escalation to development for further guidance, requires a non-security update, or requires a security update, customers will be asked to upgrade to a fully supported service pack.
Commercially reasonable support does not include an option to engage Microsoft product development resources; technical workarounds may be limited or not possible.
A matrix of the Microsoft product families and the duration of service pack support for each product family is as follows.
|Product Family||Duration of Service Pack Support|
|Windows client and servers||24 Months|
|Developer tools||12 Months|
|Consumer software, multimedia, and games||12 Months|
Starting with SQL Server 2017, no Service Packs will be released. SQL Server follows the modern servicing model as described in Announcing the Modern Servicing Model for SQL Server.
Microsoft recommends that you apply the latest Cumulative Update (or one released in the last year) for the corresponding release. The support team might require you to apply a specific Cumulative Update that addresses a specific problem when troubleshooting an issue.
This support policy permits customers to receive existing non-security updates or to request new non-security updates for the fully supported service packs during the Mainstream Support phase.
Service packs are not automatically modified to include non-security updates developed after the service pack's initial release date. An older service pack can be modified to include non-security updates developed after the service pack was released. Contact Microsoft and request the modification.
Security updates released with bulletins from the Microsoft Security Response Center will be reviewed and built for the supported service packs only. Daylight saving time and time zone updates are built for fully supported service packs only.
It is strongly recommended that customers evaluate and install current service packs in a timely manner to make sure that systems are up to date with the most recent security software.
This revised policy became effective on April 13, 2010.
February 2020 edits
ADDED: The standalone Service Pack Policy has been removed and included as part of the Fixed Lifecycle Policy.
October 2020 edits
UPDATED: The link for Unified Support was updated.
April 2021 edits
UPDATED: Introduction and Fixed Policy definition.
October 2021 edits
UPDATED: Link to Security Update Guide.