Microsoft Product Support Services Evolves Its Support Policies

REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 11, 2000 — Microsoft Corp. today announced new assisted support policies for customers of individually acquired retail products, as well as downloadable products and technologies, in the United States and Canada. The policy changes, which take effect Sept. 14, 2000, better reflect how customers are using support today and simplify Microsoft’s current support policies to provide greater consistency to customers around the globe. Microsoft is also making significant investments in improving the customer support experience by integrating new support functionality directly into its products and enhancing its online support resources.

The assisted support policy changes apply to the Microsoft® Windows® operating systems, Office suites and applications, and downloadable products and technologies such as the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser software. All Windows products will move from 90-days no-charge support to two no-charge support incidents. All Office suites and applications will move from unlimited no-charge support to two no-charge support incidents. Windows 95 and Office 95 will move to a paid-only assisted support model. For downloadable products and technologies, such as Internet Explorer and Windows Media™
Player, customers may utilize their Windows or Office no-charge support incidents to apply to the appropriate downloaded product or technology.

Many customers will see increased benefits with these new support policies. For example, customers of Windows were previously limited to a 90-day time frame for no-charge assisted support after their first incident report. With this policy change, customers of Windows will be able to utilize their two no-charge incidents over a longer period of time, resulting in increased flexibility.

Recent usage trends have revealed a significant increase in the number of customers using the Web for self-help support. In the past year, the number of customer visits to the Microsoft support Web sites increased by 95 percent and is anticipated to grow to more than
200 million customer visits in the coming year. This parallels the gradual decline in customer usage of assisted support. In fact, Microsoft found that of those customers of Windows and Office using assisted support, approximately 90 percent used it only two or fewer times.

“We continually study how customers use Microsoft support to ensure that we are effectively addressing their needs,”
said Matt Fingerhut, director of Global Support Offerings and Policies at Microsoft.
“Our support offerings and policies are very competitive in the industry and we are excited about how our upcoming investments will benefit customers.”

One of the key investments Microsoft is making is the enhancement of the customer support experience from directly within its products. Windows Millennium Edition will be the first product to feature an integrated Help and Support Center, accessed directly from the Start button, that will provide customers with a central source of self-help solutions as well as the ability to submit a support incident directly to a support professional. This integrated support functionality offers customers increased convenience and more efficient issue resolution. Microsoft Product Support Services is also working closely with the product development teams to design more intuitive product-error messages that link customers directly to support information that helps diagnose their issue at the time of the problem, saving them time and effort.

Customers can continue to access a wealth of free, self-help online content at . From its comprehensive Searchable Knowledge Base to support webcasts broadcast live over the Internet, Microsoft offers support options that meet a variety of customer needs. Microsoft is continuing to invest in enhancing its online content and resources to ensure that customers find the answers they need quickly and easily.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software – any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft, Windows and Windows Media are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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