I guess even the bigger customers have been complaining about how fast Microsoft loses older products. People don't want to spend money on upgrading software that works, and they don't want to lose support. So Microsoft has increased the support period - for some customers, for some products.
It's a tough road. No company can afford to support older versions indefinitely - there are too many issues that can lead you into quagmires of confusion. On the other hand, you don't want to tick off your good customers - especially with Linux waving from the sidelines with a big "upgrades are free" sign on its chest. That is one gigantic advantage of Open Source: in most situations, there is no economic penalty for upgrading. There still may be reluctance, of course, but the lack of cost takes a big sting away.
Often an upgrade is the answer to the support issue, which is an easy call for Open Source: you want sliding widgets that bounce? Upgrade. Microsoft's product support can have the very same answer, but when the customer is looking at the cost of buying the upgrades in addition to the cost of deploying, those non-bouncing widgets are seen with a much more bitter eye. Yes, deployment can be a big headache and a significant expense, but we look at that a little differently: we know that part is our responsibility. But paying for an upgrade that fixes a bug is just adding insult to injury. Open Source doesn't insult us.
It also may be easier to find support for your older Open Source app: if upgrading is onerous, there are probably lots of other users in the same position as you are, and your problems may find a sympathetic audience.
Support is definitely an area where Microsoft is affected by the free competition.
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More Articles by Tony Lawrence © 2012-06-27 Tony Lawrence