Microsoft offers free support for Vista SP1

Updated at 5:30pm: Microsoft is offering free support for installation issues with Vista Service Pack 1 – although the company insists it isn’t a reaction to a rash of problems with the patch.

Last week we reported how several users had encountered serious problems with SP1, including machines that refused to reboot, botched installations and ongoing driver support issues.

Now it emerges that Microsoft is offering all users “unlimited installation and compatibility support” for SP1 free of charge until next March. Microsoft normally only offers free support to customers who’ve bought retail versions of its software.

The free support does come with caveats: only customers who have a Software Assurance Agreement, Professional Contract, TechNet subscription, MSDN Subscription or belong to the Microsoft Partner Program qualify for free telephone support.

Everyone else will be offered email support via the Microsoft Support site, with a response promised by the end of the next working day.

Microsoft insists the free support hasn’t been introduced because of problems with Vista SP1. “No-fee support is actually part of our Windows Service Pack policy and not something specific to Windows Vista SP1,” a company spokesman claims.

Reports are also suggesting that with Vista Service Pack 1 out of the door, Microsoft is gearing up to release its third and final Service Pack for Windows XP in the second half of April.

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