Microsoft Support Options
Published Apr 30 2004 10:38 AM 6,342 Views

Microsoft Product Support Services has a variety of support options for Exchange Server. Some of these options you may be familiar with and some new offerings you may not be familiar with. I will briefly discuss each of these below:

Professional Support

Problem Resolution Services is the most widely used support option. A Problem Resolution incident is defined as a single support break-fix issue that cannot be broken down into subordinate issues. If a problem consists of subordinate issues, each shall be considered a separate incident. For example if you encounter an error during the initial installation of Exchange 2003, working to get past this error to a successful installation would be one issue. Anything outside of the installation such as OWA, public folder replication etc would be treated as a separate incident. If a problem is determined by Microsoft to be the result of a defect in a Microsoft product, the customer will not be charged for that incident.

Cost for this option is $245 per incident or a Pro 5 pack can be purchased for $1225.

Advisory Services

Advisory Services is a remotely-delivered, consultative support option that adds the element of proactive support, providing a comprehensive result beyond your break-fix product maintenance needs. This is most often used for setup/migration type of issues where more than one requirement needs to be addressed.

Cost for this support option is $210 per hour.

Premier and Alliance Support

Premier and Alliance Support is designed to help large enterprise customers to successfully develop, deploy, and manage business systems built around a broad range of high-quality Microsoft solutions for the server and the desktop. This type of support provides a comprehensive suite of services focusing on four key areas of customer needs: Technical Account Management, Proactive Services, Information Services and Responsive Technical Support Services.

Cost for this support varies and is on a per contract basis.

MSDN Subscribers

This limited support is often the most misunderstood support offering. MSDN Subscriptions includes technical support for those products that ship with an MSDN Subscription. Software in an MSDN Subscription comes with a development, test, and demonstration license. To clarify, the MSDN account can only be used for problems in a test or lab environment with typically 10 users or less. If a problem occurs in a production environment, a paid incident would need to be opened to address that particular issue. Per the MSDN agreement, installation of Exchange Server from an MSDN Universal Subscription to send and receive personal or business-related e-mail is prohibited

The terms of use can be found at MSDN FAQ

Cost: Varies according to the type of MSDN subscription.

Essential Support

This is Microsoft’s newest support offering. This geared towards small to mid-sized businesses that require more services than that of pay per incident or break-fix support, yet is more affordable than a Premier Support contract. Essential Support offers you access to Technical Account Specialists who act as an advocate for your business at Microsoft, Problem Resolution Services, and proactive services.

Cost: Varies according to options chosen

E-mail or Web-based Support

This is probably the least known or most under-utilized of our support options. This type of support can be used for non-critical issues. A response is guaranteed from a Microsoft Support Professional within 24-hours of opening the incident. One example that may fall under this type of support would be “one user is receiving errors when they synchronize their offline folder”, unless of course that one user is your CEOJ. Another example would be something that falls under a “how to” category such as “how do I attach a disclaimer to all outgoing messages?” In some cases it may be determined that the issue would progress faster by phone. This would be something agreed upon by the customer and the Support Professional. However, the majority of the time these issues will be worked via e-mail.

Cost: E-mail or Web-based Support is affordable at $99 per incident. If there are delays in reaching a phone technician this can also be a time saving alternative.

Self Support

You can also search for answers in our Exchange communities. Here you can find information on Microsoft and third party Exchange communities. In the Microsoft Exchange newsgroups you can post a question to your peers, and our Exchange MVPs. Though you are not guaranteed to receive a response, our Exchange newsgroups are one of Microsoft’s most active communities with many Microsoft Exchange Support Professionals participating.

Cost: Free

For more information on any of Microsoft’s support offerings visit

Note: Microsoft does not charge for support to obtain a hotfix. See Brandon Hoff’s post from March 12th

- Melissa Travers

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