Universally Speaking...

Every so often I get asked why we only support certain versions and/or service packs for some of the products we depend on, such as Windows or Office. Earlier this week I received the following question from one of our partners here in the UK:

I am currently involved in a large opportunity but the client's IS group are unable to upgrade to Outlook 2003 SP3. They are currently on SP2 and will not move to SP3 as it conflicts with their mainframe. Please can you let me know as soon as possible if there is any work around on the MS side that doesn’t involve loading SP3?

Obviously our partner was fully aware of our System Requirements which states that Office 2003 Service Pack 3 is the minimum supported configuration, but they had no additional information with which to engage in a sensible discussion with their client. Putting my thinking cap on I put together the following response:

The simple answer is that Office 2003 SP3 became available on 18th September 2007 which means the Office team will cease to support Office 2003 SP2 on 14th October 2008 - Support ends 12 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product's support lifecycle, whichever comes first. You can find all the Service Pack support dates here - http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifesupsps

Since SP3 shipped several months before CRM 4.0 became available on 29th February 2008, the CRM team only tested fully against SP3. This is sensible strategy since you have to ask what happens if a CRM problem is caused by Office 2003 SP2, and the office team will no longer fix any SP2-related issue. We would have significant customer dis-sat.

So the deal here is:

  1. Will CRM 4.0 work on SP2? Probably, although it hasn’t been explicitly tested by the CRM team.
  2. If your customer has a post-implementation issue will they get CRM support? Probably, on a best efforts basis.
  3. If your customer has a post-implementation issue that requires a CRM or Office hotfix to be issued, will they get CRM support? No – not until they upgrade to Office 2003 SP3 (or whatever is the current supported service pack) and can reproduce the issue in this environment.

This is about risk. The risk of a problem occurring might seem low, but the impact of not being able to get a fix to a problem is potentially very high.

Although I haven't heard back as to the outcome of the discussion, our partner felt comfortable discussing the reasons behind our system requirements, and were hopeful they could help their client work through their issues.

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

Laughing Boy