The Ultimate Guide to Microsoft Premier vs. Unified Support

The Ultimate Guide to Microsoft Premier vs. Unified Support.

The Ultimate Guide to Microsoft Premier vs. Unified Support

It’s official: Microsoft Premier Support has ended. As of July 1, those in the public sector will have to renew with Unified when their Premier Support contract is up. As for anyone new to the Microsoft support sphere, Unified is your only option. With these renewals on the horizon for some and in the not-so-distant future for others, it’s important to take a step back and reflect. The differences between the Premier vs. Unified support structure are enough to warrant an in-depth look.

The Ultimate Guide to Microsoft Premier vs. Unified Support

What is Microsoft Premier/Unified Support?

For those entirely unaware, Microsoft does just offer simple product support. While Microsoft support is often thought of when you need help with Outlook login credentials or have a problem with an Xbox account, Microsoft Premier/Unified is the enterprise-grade support side of Microsoft. As it is one of the largest software service companies in the world, it needs a similarly large support offering to keep up with the demands of industries everywhere.

Microsoft Premier Support is the old model, created years ago, back when support was a necessary extension of the business and Microsoft felt that personally handling problems was within their wheelhouse. Microsoft Unified Support is the “updated” edition of Premier that promises a change for the better. Unified Support was announced in 2017 and over the past few years has slowly replaced Premier across the board, recently completing that replacement in the public sector.

The 4 Major Differences Between Unified and Premier Support

The burning question is then “well, what am I missing out on? Isn’t Unified just the same thing as Premier?”

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. As time passed, Microsoft cared less about support quality because they make most of their money from product sales, not support sales. Software company gross margins are to the tune of 70-85%, while support services gross margins are closer to 35-50%. This means that they had to find new ways to provide the same service, but for a greater return to offset the cost deficit. Unified was that answer.

1. Per-Hour Pricing vs. Annual Product Spend

Under Premier, enterprises were billed per hour based on consumption. Similar to a-la-carte, if you needed reactive or proactive fixes for problems, you would lean on your technical account manager (TAM) to help get the ball rolling and assist in the fix or get you in touch with an expert that could help. This could be as many or as few hours as you needed, so the price was dependent on your use, but still something that could be easily calculated.

Unified changed the formula. Now, pricing is dependent on your product spend. This means that the cost of your Unified Support is based on the previous 12 months of cloud services purchases, Azure consumption, license-only purchases, Software Assurance, and License + Software Assurance purchases. This is how your price is initially calculated, though if you’re an international client, that price also depends on economical fluctuations.

2. TAMs vs. CSAMs

With Microsoft Premier, you were guaranteed assistance from a Technical Account Manager (TAM), which is someone that has over 10 years of Microsoft product experience and provides dedicated support to your business. It’s someone you can rely on when things get tough and less escalations were required because of the experience TAMs brought to the table.

Microsoft Unified determined that TAMs were needed elsewhere, instead relying on them as an escalation resource. Your new point of contact is a Customer Success Account Manager (CSAM), which has roughly half the experience of a TAM and is more of a reactive problem solver. They help with smaller issues and move you up the support chain as needed, but this results in a slower and slightly more frustrating experience overall.

3. Proactive vs. Reactive Hours

Proactive support was a built-in feature for Premier, offering support assistance hours as part of the contract that would keep an eye on your systems and make sure everything worked well. If issues arose, they were easier to spot beforehand and easier to prevent.

Unified Support has proactive support as an “as needed” feature. Your TAM was capable of proactive assistance, but your CSAM doesn’t have the same insights or credentials. If you want proactive support, you will need to pay more. Even then, it isn’t the same as what you got with Premier.

Now Unified focuses on reactive hours, which is part of your annual fee. If something goes wrong, you can reach out to your CSAM to see how quickly it can be resolved. This could take hours to see an initial response, with a resolution time being variable on the problem at hand.

4. Initial Response Times

Premier Support offered 1-hour initial response for critical issues and 2 hours for all other tickets. Unified changes it up a bit with a variable response time. You’ll get a response for critical issues between 30 minutes to an hour after submitting a ticket. If your problem isn’t as severe, the response time can be anywhere from 4 to 8 hours.

The Ultimate Guide to Microsoft Premier vs. Unified Support. A bar chart showing hypothetical average time to resolve issues, with Premier Support at 2 hours and Unified Support at 6 hours.
Comparison of the average time to resolve issues between Microsoft Premier and Unified Support.

Not to worry, you may get a faster response from someone other than your CSAM. Since Microsoft outsources their support overseas to companies like Wipro and Mindtree, you may get a slightly faster response from a v-dash technician. Not only do these engineers have less experience than a traditional CSAM (usually 2-3 years Microsoft experience), but they also put you at risk as they aren’t beholden to US government compliance regulations.

Aspect Premier Support Unified Support
Pricing Billed per hour based on usage. Easy to calculate. Based on annual product spend (cloud services, Azure, licenses). International prices may vary.
TAMs vs. CSAMs Dedicated TAMs with 10+ years experience, fewer escalations. CSAMs with ~5 years experience, more reactive, slower response.
Support Hours Proactive support included, monitoring and preventing issues. Proactive support extra cost, focus on reactive support included in annual fee.
Response Times 1-hour response for critical, 2 hours for others. 30 min to 1 hour for critical, 4-8 hours for others. Often outsourced overseas, less experienced, compliance risks.

Unified Isn't Your Only Choice

Premier is gone and Unified is all that remains, or is it? If Unified Support doesn’t sound like an appealing option to change over to and you’re looking for an alternative that offers almost every service Microsoft Support offers, US Cloud is here to help.

In order of the differences listed above, we provide:

  1. A bucket of support hours that is tailored to your needs. If you need more, you buy more. If you need less, then you can rely on our reactive support to help keep your future tickets to a minimum.
  2. You have access to TAMs on our team that offer reactive and proactive support in equal measure. If you need deeper support, our team of DSEs can resolve any type of issue you can imagine (and maybe a few you can’t). All of our engineers are US-based, so you don’t have to worry about compliance either.
  3. As mentioned before, you get proactive and reactive hours in equal measure. We get to know your systems intimately so that we can get out ahead of issues, but if those issues arise or something breaks, we are there to help your team through it.
  4. We have financially backed SLAs that guarantee your tickets get a response within 15-minutes of submission, regardless of severity. As for resolution times, on average, we resolve tickets twice as fast as Microsoft.
An infographic titled 'Support You Can Trust' from US Cloud, highlighting key support metrics such as initial ticket response time (3.9 minutes), time to resolution for high severity issues (3.1 hours), percentage of tickets escalated to Microsoft (19.7%), the number of Microsoft technologies fixed (59 products), and the average experience of their engineers with Microsoft (14.9 years). The infographic emphasizes the reliability and efficiency of US Cloud's third-party Microsoft support.
Support You Can Trust: US Cloud Performance Metrics

For faster Microsoft support for less, nobody does it better than US Cloud.

Download our US Cloud vs Microsoft Cheat Sheet to see the full picture.

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