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SOLVED: What Is the Difference Between Microsoft ‘Mainstream Support’ and ‘Extended Support’

If you have been getting worried about your Windows OS running out of support, you might be confused by the terms.

dead-windows-7-vista-mainstream-vs-extended-supportThe basic difference between Mainstream Support and Extended Support is payment for phone support.  Extended Support does not allow companies to get free (well, no additional charge) telephone support from Microsoft.  Companies have to pay for phone support when a product is in Extended Support time frame.

Under both Mainstream and Extended support Windows Update still functions as you would expect with security patches and various other fixes.  Clearly Microsoft will not be putting much effort into the ‘fixes’ for their old products in Extended Support, but they do release a few when the issues are big enough.

Microsoft explains the difference in support using the following table:

 Type of support Mainstream Support Extended Support Self-help Online Support
Request to change product design and features  Available  Not Available Note4
Security updates  Available  Available Note4
Non-security updates  Available
  • Only available with Extended Hotfix Support
  • Not available for desktop consumer products
Note4
Complimentary support1 included with license, licensing program2 or other no-charge support programs  Available  Not Available3 Note4
Paid-support (including pay-per-incident Premier and Essential Support)  Available  Available Note4
Product-specific information and answers to technical questions via Microsoft Knowledge Base or Microsoft Help and Support  Available  Available Note4

1 Refers to phone support and online support options.
2 For example, support incidents acquired through the Software Assurance program for server products. 
3 Limited complimentary support may be available (varies by product).
4 Access to freely available online content, such as Knowledge Base articles, online product information, and online support webcasts

 

If you have more questions about Microsoft Support, I found the THIS FAQ Page to be quite useful.

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