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Difference between Mainstream Support and Extended Support

One of the questions asked most about Microsoft’s licensing policy is the scope of Extended Support. What does it mean and how long does it last? Who can leverage it?

Microsoft provides 5 years of support for almost all software products including operating systems such as Windows and Windows Server. It also covers development and database tools such as Visual Studio and SQL Server. This initial support period is called Mainstream Support. All security updates, new feature developments, and complimentary support are provided during Mainstream Support. For the end of support dates for Windows Server, check this post out.

Microsoft Extended Support

After the 5-year mainstream support, a new period called Extended Support starts. During the extended support, Microsoft still provides all security updates. However, unlike mainstream support, product design change or new feature addition requests are not accepted and complimentary support is not provided.

Difference between Mainstream and Extended Support

The table below shows the details of support types (Courtesy of Microsoft).

 Type of support Mainstream Support Extended Support
Request to change product design and features  Available  Not available
Security updates  Available  Available
Non-security updates  Available
  • Available only with Extended Hotfix Support
  • Not available for desktop operating system consumer products
Complimentary support1included with license, licensing program2 or other no-charge support programs  Available  Not available3
Paid-support (including pay-per-incident premier and essential support)  Available  Available

1 Refers to phone 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).

For detailed information, please visit Microsoft’s Product Life Cycle Policy page.

As a summary, the in Extended support:

  • No new features are added
  • Complimentary support is not available
  • Non-security fixes are available only if Extended Hotfix Support is purchased
  • Security fixes are available just like Mainstream Support

Ned Sahin

Blogger for 20 years. Former Microsoft Engineer. Author of six books. I love creating helpful content and sharing with the world. Reach me out for any questions or feedback.

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