back to article Microsoft hikes support charges by NINETY TWO PER CENT

Microsoft has quietly all-but-doubled the cost of ad hoc professional support in the United States. Visit this page, click the “For Business” tab and then select the “Support for Small and Medium Business” option and you'll see that Redmond now charges US$499 for a single professional support incident, or US$1,999 for a five- …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    It will be worse

    The Reg's exploration of Microsoft's site in other nations and languages – a tricky thing to do given Redmond geo-targets content – doesn't yield conclusive proof the hike is global.

    don't forget that the US Charge is without TAX. By the time it gets over there it will be $1 = £1 and 20% VAT to boot.

    They have to pay for all those unsold Surface RT's somehow don't they?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: It will be worse

      If you are a business, you will probably claim the tax back anyway, so prices should be without tax.

  2. John Tserkezis

    Microsoft:

    Screw you when you buy our subscription only-software, and double screw you if you want help.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "and double screw you if you want help."

      It the issue is due to a bug then you get the fee refunded. It's not unreasonable to charge for other types of help - Microsoft professional support is very very good.

      1. dan1980

        @AC - I'll meet you there - MS Professional Support really is bloody good.

        Of course, their idea of what is a bug and what isn't might not match up with the person having the problem.

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Trollface

    Clearly they want to counteract the LOOMING THREAT OF DEFLATION

    ....a threat that will be realized any Krugman-Minute now, shortly before IRANIAN NUKES KILL US ALL.

    So we better print more money and hike prices. Well done, Satya.

  4. Callam McMillan

    It depends whether this is a flat fee, if it is then it's not too bad. Many years ago, one of the Exchange servers where I worked crapped itself. We had a Microsoft engineer on the phone from about 3pm until midnight to get it all sorted out. Once you're talking about a full days work to fix a problem, $499 doesn't sound unreasonable.

    1. Lee D

      In that time, I could have run out, bought a server (certainly cheaper than a day of engineer time + $499) and replaced the Exchange server (probably including data transfer, but certainly a significant number of functions and mailboxes).

      I hope whatever the issue was it was really critical and blocking and permanently hindered a restore from backup on other hardware from resolving it (in which case, I'd be reviewing quite why I was using Exchange or quite what my backups were supposed to be doing in the first place).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Well if you run nightly backups and say they stop at 6am, and your server drops dead at 3pm, you are talking almost a days worth of emails lost and because of the fact they were received, the customer would of not received any bounce backs.

        So in our case your brilliant "restore from back up idea" would of meant about 150,000 emails being lost, with potentially millions of pounds worth of business.

        While he works on the issue,the server would of been down so people would of got rejection noticies, so not such a big issue.

        So feel free to restore you 5 emails a day from over night back ups, but it's not always the best. Often you have to run with the issue.

        Of course hopefully you would have a active / active set up, but even then it's often better to fix then "restore".

        1. Anonymous Crowbar

          >So in our case your brilliant "restore from back up idea" would of meant about 150,000 emails being >lost, with potentially millions of pounds worth of business.

          And this is why you should be using cluster exchange servers or at least have the datastores on a SAN so another server can be rolled in....

        2. M Mouse
          WTF?

          "you are talking almost a days worth of emails lost and because of the fact they were received"

          So you mean you don't have your mail duplicated to another remote server "just in case" ?

          Very easy to do, for incoming mail, and allows staff on or off site to be getting their mail reliably, even if the server is dead.

          Last time I had a client using MS Exchange Server and their hard drive died, they found it easy to be persuaded to consider alternatives and switched to MDaemon, which has served them reliably for umpteen years now, and of course they still have the mail that had been on the MS Exchange server when the drive failed (thanks to Vogon, who did a great, if moderately expensive, job on retrieval)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " that time, I could have run out, bought a server (certainly cheaper than a day of engineer time + $499) and replaced the Exchange server"

        And then probably found that you had the exact same problem. Replacing the hardware, installing and configuring an OS and a new Exchange server from scratch and then migrating the data would likely take longer than a day.

        "I'd be reviewing quite why I was using Exchange "

        There isn't really an alternative for onsite email with corporate level capabilities unless you count Lotus Notes - and that's vastly inferior and dying rapidly.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          "Lotus Notes - and that's vastly inferior and dying rapidly"

          Dying rapidly, yes, undoubtedly.

          Vastly inferior ? Nope. In terms of stability, it is vastly superior. Neither is it subject to all the nastiness that Exchange can get hit with, especially if you put it on a Linux platform.

          Yes, the full-fat client is fat and fugly, but the browser interface is not so far off anymore - you could easily have Notes for email and few would notice.

          But it's still dying, thanks to IBM's total lack of commitment.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Lotus Notes - and that's vastly inferior and dying rapidly"

            "Vastly inferior ? Nope. In terms of stability, it is vastly superior. "

            Have to disagree there. Current Exchange versions have vastly superior stability and far more functionality - and far more flexible and powerful clustering / failover options - also Exchange scales much better than Notes with a much lower Disk IO load - and can be deployed at enterprise level on JBOD so has a very low TCO. Exchange generally just keeps on running unless you do something stupid like let the logs fill up due to not backing it up.

            " Neither is it subject to all the nastiness that Exchange can get hit with, especially if you put it on a Linux platform."

            Exchange has a much lower historical vulnerability count (order of magnitude less) than Notes - and Enterprise Linux distributions are also generally far more vulnerable to remote attack than Windows Server - with much higher vulnerability counts - and with a longer average time at risk. Just look at say cross platform website exploit statistics for evidence of the result of this...

            1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

              Re: Enterprise Linux distributions are [..] far more vulnerable to remote attack than Windows Server

              Hi Ballmer !

              Taking some time from mismanaging your baseball team, I see.

              I'd suggest a reality check, but with you it's obviously useless.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Enterprise Linux distributions are [..] far more vulnerable to remote attack than Windows Server

                "I'd suggest a reality check, but with you it's obviously useless."

                So lets reality check you with mentioning say SUSE 10 - with over 4,000 known vulnerabilities. And for an example of the results of that and why Windows Server is generally far less vulnerable to remote attack than Linux, see - www.zone-h.org/news/id/4737 - Even if you adjust for market share, you see that Linux is several times more likely to be successfully attacked than Windows Server.

                1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

                  Go on counting vulnerabilities

                  I'm sure it makes you feel good.

                  Meanwhile, in Real Life, every single reported instance of actual, widespread virus attack happens on the Windows platform.

  5. Shannon Jacobs
    Holmes

    It isn't extortion, just check your EULA

    Kind of amazing to me, but obviously this is support as extortion, but by a different name. Any business that pays that kind of money has a desperate problem. They are facing a much larger loss, and if you look at Microsoft's EULA, low and behold you shall discover that it isn't Microsoft's fault and there is nothing you can do about it.

    1. Make buggy software

    2. Disclaim all liability

    3. Rack desperate suckers over the coals

    4. PROFIT

    Microsoft's other business model innovation was to sell to the makers, bypassing the end users almost entirely. Hey, but you're not supposed to argue with "success".

    1. Lee D

      Re: It isn't extortion, just check your EULA

      If you believe that the EULA is the be-all-and-end-all of Microsoft's (or your!) contractual obligations to a consumer, I'm afraid you're very wrong.

      That said, this falls under the same category as things like cars. I don't expect Ford to rush out and fix my tyre unless I'm in a specific support contract with them. Sure, if there's an inherent failure in the model that they knew about and need to fix to comply with "product fit for use" rules, then they will do that. But otherwise, you're on your own matey and getting Ford to cut you a new set of keys will cost you.

      That said, I've been working in IT for 15 years and I've not once called Microsoft (except possibly on their free lines to clarify licensing, which was a complete waste of time). Used the knowledgebase, etc. yes but again - without a specific support contact - you're pretty much on your own. This is why people have in-house support teams, or mechanics - because you pay them instead and expect them to know how to resolve the problem. If you don't have that, you are of course reliant on the original manufacturer and that gets expensive fast.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: It isn't extortion, just check your EULA

        " I don't expect Ford to rush out and fix my tyre unless I'm in a specific support contract with them."

        Funny, a lot of people did. Some died before they got the chance.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firestone_and_Ford_tire_controversy

  6. Khaptain
    Mushroom

    Windows 8 bites back

    In order to cover the losses on Windows 8 a solution has now been found...

    Coming up, one very unkind analogy :

    When a vetinary has very little business, or has lost a lot on trying to promote a new product, all that he needs to do is poison the local water supply. The farmer will have no other choice than to pay hansomely in order to save his animals......

  7. localzuk Silver badge

    The value depends on the issue.

    If someone pays for a support ticket from MS, the problem is usually a significant one, and takes a bunch of time to fix. So, for most businesses who would pay for such a ticket, $499 ain't so bad. Its cheaper than hiring an external consultant to come in and look at it!

    1. raving angry loony

      Re: The value depends on the issue.

      quote: "If someone pays for a support ticket from MS, the problem is usually a significant one, and takes a bunch of time to fix."

      Which means that before you can even start to pay Microsoft, you have to already have paid someone to determine if the problem "is significant". Probably someone who paid into Microsoft's protection racket with an MCSE or whatever it's called today.

      They really do get people coming AND going. I guess it's why they're so profitable - they're the epitome of cashing in on the whole "there's a sucker born every minute", and they sold it a copy of Windows.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The value depends on the issue.

        "I guess it's why they're so profitable - they're the epitome of cashing in on the whole "there's a sucker born every minute", and they sold it a copy of Windows."

        Quite - and it's successful because even with this model, it's generally still a much lower TCO to run Microsoft products than say an Enterprise flavour of Linux, OS-X, AIX, Solaris or other similar alternatives.

      2. localzuk Silver badge

        Re: The value depends on the issue.

        All complex software has a cost to run. If a problem was on a *nix system, it'd take someone who knew *nix to figure out there was a major issue too, but you'd likely also be paying them more than an MCSE qualified tech or whatever would be paid.

        TCO depends on your use case. For some businesses, *nix is a lot cheaper, for others not so much.

  8. Pen-y-gors

    geo-targetting?

    "The Reg's exploration of Microsoft's site in other nations and languages – a tricky thing to do given Redmond geo-targets content"

    Surely ElReg can afford a VPN subscription to someone like HMA? - servers/IP addresses in 128 countries. Very handy for trying to appear to be a Johnny Foreigner.

  9. alain williams Silver badge

    If it turns out to be a bug

    in the Microsoft s/ware, will they pay the $499 back ?

    Oh - look at the pigs fly by ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If it turns out to be a bug

      "in the Microsoft s/ware, will they pay the $499 back ?"

      Yes.

  10. Roland6 Silver badge

    "Regular Payment" is the key!

    Microsoft of course offers Premier support, often with regular payments. These price hikes seem a decent signal that Microsoft's rather keen on that kind of arrangement.

    MS seem to be very keen to get it's customers away from one off payments and on to subscriptions. We're already seeing this with Office v Office 365 licencing.

    1. Otto is a bear.

      Re: "Regular Payment" is the key!

      Well yes, just how many of us really needed to upgrade from Office 95 to Office 365, the number of key features we actually need in Office hasn't changed much since the first version of Word I used, The GUI was a major step forwards, but much of the rest......

      So once you have run out of ideas of how to make the product better how do you keep the revenue coming, that's it subscriptions, and the cloud, no point in selling client software which is now upgraded after n-2 in most cases.

  11. Al fazed Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    Arseholes as ever.

    Still selling broken stuff and then charging us to have it fixed !

    Wish they would run out of fucking road, I'm fed up mending computers that aught not to be broke in the first place. Especially as Microsoft make it ever more difficult to do the basic system maintenance and integritty checks that their software is supposed to be doing.

    There's no justice in this world, why can't Microshit go bust and do it properly ?

    1. Snorlax
      WTF?

      Re: Arseholes as ever.

      Duh. Mending computers "that aught not to be broke in the first place" keeps you in a job, doesn't it?

      Sounds like you need to find a new line of employment if you resent what you're doing so much...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Arseholes as ever.

        "computers "that aught not to be broke in the first place""

        How can a computer be out of money? Presumably you meant "broken".

        1. Snorlax
          Headmaster

          Re: Arseholes as ever.

          He spelled "aught" wrong too. The word used to indicate a desired or expected state is "ought".

          I could have pulled him up on that too, but I didn't want to be the pedantic grammar nazi...

    2. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: Arseholes as ever.

      Last I checked, Microsoft don't charge to bug fix. They do charge to fix misconfiguration issues, which are down to the customer in the first place. You ought to have configured your systems properly in the first place, then you wouldn't need to use a premium support ticket. In 15 years, I've used them once, when I was still finding my feet (luckily, it was a free ticket included with our volume license too).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Re: Arseholes as ever.

      Odd haven't RedHat been "charging" for "free" software for years?

      If Linux wasn't so shitty, you wouldn't need RedHat.

      See works both ways.

  12. Frankee Llonnygog

    Really?

    We get dozens of incidents free with every copy of Windows.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      What you actually get is dozens of incidents free with every user of Windows.

      Okay, I'm going - stop pushing !

      1. Frankee Llonnygog

        That's true only if you have disabled

        Windows Auto-Upfuck

    2. mrweekender

      Re: Really?

      Just swapped out 600ish Windows PC laptops with Chromebooks and MacBook Airs. 4 months in and our support calls have dropped to almost zero, yes that's fucking ZERO and our staff are much happier. Thats why it makes me laugh my arse off when I see all the MS techs wanking on about how great the MS infrastructure is - reality check, it's wank and I have 4 months of EVIDENCE to PROVE it. Jetsioning all the Windows PC laptops is the best descision I've made in my whole Tech career.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well having used them and abused them

    As someone who used premier support on a regular basis for 8 + years, overall I found they were very good to have on tap.

    Amazingly, the overwhelming majority of our support calls were for MSExchange issues. It's one of the reasons I now recommend that people always give 0365 a good, hard look before upgrading to the latest version of Exchange. The licensing, storage and deployment costs for some exchange installations alone could easily pay for a year of Premier support incidents.

  14. hmas

    Seems reasonable

    I'm not a Microsoft apologist, but by giving customers the option of purchasing single or packs of support incidents, Microsoft is being far more generous than plenty of other vendors that, if you phone up without a support contract, will simply direct you to their subscriptions team or account exec to purchase an annual contract.

    Microsoft's approach allows customers to choose a support model that balances their budget and appetite for risk. If you don;t want to pay for premier support, either buy a pack of incidents or wait for something to break and whip out the credit card.

  15. CAPS LOCK

    The quality of the MS astroturfing in this thread is above average.

    Quality work you MS astrofarmers.

  16. ecofeco Silver badge

    Time to raise my rates

    Thanks MS! Now I can raise my rates.

    And damn well will.

  17. -tim

    Antique support is getting expensive

    I wonder if the rate increase is a result in all the new calls they are getting about XP since that is the only way to get patches or XP support.

  18. HobbleAlong

    It's only reasonable to double the fees. After all, there's probably at least double the problems.

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