You might be surprised how many emails we get from folks asking this question. I think it's due the fact that we have *so* many support options, it's sometimes difficult to understand where to turn.... I thought I would try to highlight a few here.
Support Options Overview Microsoft provides several tiers and programs to support your development efforts on Windows platforms. These options range from free newsgroups support to single, paid support incidents – all the way to comprehensive and global managed support relationships. A few of these options are outlined below. You should review our complete list of support offerings against your business needs to determine what best fits with your goals. For more information and details on support options for our products and technologies, see our support portal here.
Problem Resolution Services Microsoft Problem Resolution Services provide assistance for problems with specific symptoms encountered while using a Microsoft product where there is a reasonable expectation that the problem is caused by the Microsoft product. Problem Resolution Services are delivered on an incident basis for commercially released and supported software. A Problem Resolution incident is defined as a single support issue and the reasonable effort needed to resolve it (break/fix). A single support issue is a problem that cannot be broken down into subordinate issues. If a problem consists of subordinate issues, each shall be considered 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. Problem Resolution services may be opened by phone and paid for on an as-needed basis or included in a more comprehensive managed support contract.
Advisory and Consulting Services If you have a support needs that fall outside of a typical break/fix scenario or need more prescriptive guidance in the use of a Microsoft technology, advisory and consulting services may be available through both Professional Support and other managed support relationships (outlined below).
Microsoft Advisory Services provides short-term advice and guidance for problems not covered by Problem Resolution Service as well as requests for consultative assistance for design, development and deployment issues. For specific information about the types of Advisory Services available, visit the Advisory Services Web page.
Managed Support through OEM, Premier, and Partner Advantage For partners who have an ongoing need for a deeper support relationship with Microsoft, we provide several managed support programs. These programs include Problem Resolution Services with many added benefits, managed by a designated Microsoft resource assigned to your company. This resource owns your support relationship with Microsoft and becomes your “go-to” person for all things related to support. If you are a member of one of our Partner programs, be sure to review any support benefits included as part of that program first.
ISV Partners For many ISVs and Partners in the Microsoft Partner Program, the Partner Advantage offering includes service management, problem resolution support, proactive consulting and workshops, and online information resources. Offered in two cost-effective plans for registered partners, the Standard includes phone-based access to product support, online resources, and proactive services at a fixed price. The Plus Plan, a fully customizable offering, addresses the more complex requirements of larger partners and includes services such as a dedicated support professional and more.
Mobile Partners may also leverage program benefits attached to the Partner Program and the Mobile Solutions Competency. Partner program members typically includes a basic support package of benefits that includes 5 Professional Support incidents and may be expanded to other services based on your specific needs.
OEM/ODM/IHV/SI Partners If you are an OEM, ODM, Solution Integrator (SI) or IHV you may be eligible for support from OEM Engineering and Support Services team. This team supports device manufactures and integrators with a focus on getting devices to market by helping the partner overcome development issues related to Microsoft’s software platforms.
OEM Engineering and Support Services teams offer a managed relationship through a Technical Account Manager (TAM) assigned to your account. The TAM is responsible for managing your technical support issues as well as providing an interface to the various product development groups, sales teams and marketing teams within Microsoft. The TAM is your contact at Microsoft who will either directly resolve your technical issues or leverage other Microsoft resources to meet your needs. Along with reactive technical support, your TAM will also provide proactive services related to product roadmap information, representing your position at various Microsoft meetings and forward information that is pertinent to your development/business needs.
OEM Engineering and Support Services are a paid support option for those eligible for the service. The services are based on an hourly support model and do have a minimal entry requirement (~400 hours over 12 months).
If you are an OEM or ODM, to understand if you are eligible for support from the OEM Engineering and Services team and further details on the support provided, contact your account manager or distributor.
If you are an SI or IHV, the customer you are working for who nominated/sponsored you to get Windows Mobile deliverables access may have an OEM Engineering and Support Services agreement with Microsoft in which you could (with their permission) tap into their paid-for support services. In this case, please inquire with your customer.
Enterprise Customers For large customers who may already have Premier Support contracts in place, Premier Support may also be used for mobility support needs. Premier Support provides comprehensive coverage of Microsoft products across enterprise class organizations. As a Premier Support customer, you are entitled to a flexible support offering that includes proactive planning and support, onsite training and best practices, in-depth workshops, and a comprehensive suite of online information services designed to meet your complex support needs. Premier can provide you with a designated Technical Account Manager (TAM) who speaks your language and support team who works with you to help optimize IT efficiency and maximize the benefits of your Microsoft technology solution.
Additional Support Needs/Questions? Let me know, and I will try to address them here...