Microsoft pitches proactive enterprise support

Microsoft has added a new level of support for business customers that offers unlimited access to resolving IT problems.

Microsoft has added a new level of technical support for enterprise customers that it says helps them draft a long-term road map to improve the reliability and quality of their IT networks.

Premier Ultimate offers nearly unlimited problem-resolution services -- Microsoft reserves the right to claim some exceptions -- for a fixed price.

With the new level of service Microsoft will take a more collaborative approach to working with customers to maintain the health of their IT networks, rather than just being called in to assist whenever there is a problem, the company said.

Though there probably won't be many customers who will take advantage of the new tier of support, Ray Wang, a research vice president at Forrester Research, said it shows Microsoft is providing more support options than some other vendors.

"This is part of their ability to say, 'Here is the ultimate support package out there should you want that,'" he said.

That strategy is better than forcing customers to buy more support than they need as SAP recently did, Wang said.

SAP angered some customers by increasing support costs and forcing them out of a lower tier of support and into a more expensive offering.

"Microsoft is not forcing [the new support] down your throat," he said.

Besides enterprise customers, midmarket customers who don't have a large, dedicated IT staff might be the most likely to take advantage of the new Premier Ultimate level of service, Wang said.

Microsoft will determine the price for Premier Ultimate services through individual contracts it sets up with customers, the terms of which are not disclosed.

The new service level is part of an already existing Premier portfolio of services from Microsoft, which until now had three levels of service -- Premier Foundation, Premier Standard and Premier Essential. Each level differs in services, price and delivery.

More information about Microsoft's support services can be found on its services Web site.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
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