What You Need to Know About Microsoft Support Terminology

Written by Rod Fournier, Microsoft Premier Field Engineer.

Support Image (by Renjith Krishnan) When discussing the meaning of Microsoft Support terminology with my customers, there are several terms that come up almost daily in conversations. Here are some hopefully helpful definitions for you that I use:



  • Supported – When we (Microsoft) state we support something, it really means we have tested that scenario and that is works as we programmed it to.
  • Best Effort – This is defined within this Microsoft Knowledge Base article on support boundaries.  Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) support for hardware-related/network-related/third party software issues is limited to a commercially reasonable effort. If PSS determines that the issue is related to the hardware/network/third party software, you must obtain support directly from the vendor of the computer or from the hardware manufacturer.
  • Unsupported – We have NOT tested this scenario or product usage and because of that we will not be able to help a customer in this state. The product may or may not work as expected; we simply don’t know and haven’t test it.  For example, an unsupported version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from Windows Update. These include security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can also steal your personal information. Windows Update also installs the latest software updates to improve the reliability of Windows—new drivers for your hardware and more (these latter details can be found in the article: What does it mean if my version of Windows is no longer supported?)
  • Recommended – We support and recommend this configuration. We have experience supporting other customers doing exactly what you are doing or have purposed to do. This may or may not be the best way of using or configuring the product, but we are okay with your approach – in other words, it’s not a bad idea.
  • Best Practice – We support, recommend, and have experience that over time this is the best way to configure or use the product.  This does not mean this is the only way to use or configure the product, we will potentially support other ways of product use/configuration. We either use this internally and/or have other large customers successfully using or configuring the product this way.
  • Worst Practice – We never in a million years thought anyone would do that with the product. We haven’t tested or designed the product to be used in that way. In the grand scheme of things this is a very, very bad plan and should be corrected to a recommended or best practice ASAP. We won’t support this configuration or usage. Please reconsider your choice.

Hope that helps!

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