Higher Costs, Falling Quality

Frustration with Microsoft Support grows within ranks of procurement and IT leaders.

Unified Support uses a new formula-based approach (tied to software spend) that has meant brutal price hikes for many. Add that to deteriorating service quality that appears to be accelerating and it’s no wonder that companies are struggling to cope.

Unified Sticker Shock

For some, Microsoft Unified Support it a good fit. Careful licensing strategy and aggressive support negotiations can yield relatively affordable OEM support on par with past Premier Support contracts.

But for those on the wrong side of Microsoft’s Unified pricing formula, 30%, 50%, even 300%+ increases are not uncommon with the switch. Some organizations are even opting out of Unified to go it alone with internal resources augmented by SAB support incidents or support from a VAR.  This approach is NOT recommended for enterprise-level clients or those with mission-critical Microsoft infrastructure given the current state of core Microsoft support.

Year 2 & 3: More Increases

Clients heading into their second and third years of Unified Support are reporting additional and substantial cost increases.  Some are due to Microsoft raising rates and no longer offsetting expense with SAB credits used in year one. But much larger increases await companies planning greater adoption of Microsoft 365 or Azure.

Often overlooked in budget calculations is that Unified Support costs increase 10-12% for every dollar of new M365 and Azure annual spend. Also, companies migrating from on-premise to the Microsoft Cloud can have estimated cost efficiencies wiped out by ballooning support spend. In one 2019 example, a 10k-user company moving from Exchange on-premise to Office 365 E3 saw a 679% increase after switching to Unified.

Pricing Predictability at Risk

Microsoft Unified Support is a risk to enterprise technology budgets. CTOs must be able to accurately forecast Microsoft cloud consumption while avoiding significant future Unified cost increases. Unified Support’s unlimited Microsoft product support initially looks attractive but often results in significant cost increases for enterprises over time. Unified Support is forecasted to cost 2-5 times more than Premier after 5 years with just a 4-6 % increase in a company’s Enterprise Agreements (EA).

Collapsing Quality

According to research by a leading Microsoft industry analyst, the transition to Unified Support has been a customer satisfaction disaster. Based on interviews with Microsoft Premier and Unified Support clients over the last four years, the percentage of companies reporting falling MSFT support quality went from 17% in 2018 to a whopping 88% by the end of 2021.

Some of the complaints we have heard from Microsoft customers in 2021: lengthening and unworkable support response times, endless engineer transfers, needing to “start over” multiple times, dialect and communication issues, getting “ghosted” after initial engagements, CSAMs’ inability to effectively expedite, lower-level engineers acting as barriers, and pervasive use of ineffective offshore engineers.

Outsourced and Offshored

Microsoft is doing less and less of the break-fix support under Unified Support. Third-party vendors are shouldering much of the increasing load with response times and ticket resolution times suffering. The rocky transition to work-from-home in India has exacerbated the issue.

V-Dash

The Microsoft Monopoly

Many organizations feel that Microsoft has abused their position in the market as the “only” option for Microsoft support. Many procurement teams are fed up with the aggressive Unified sales tactics, exorbitant price increases, and a “take it or leave it” attitude from Microsoft sales teams. With traditionally no viable competition, Microsoft sales teams have been free to dictate terms of Unified Support and literally drive vendor lock in. Procurement’s seemingly limited options include: Unified multi-year contracts, self-support all MSFT technologies, MSP for limited MSFT technologies, and no support.

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