Microsoft last week announced a new free technical support package for resellers and consultants that includes limited free telephone support.
The DirectAccess support solution includes a new Web-based news group that is monitored 24 hours a day by Microsoft engineers. For use exclusively by resellers and consultants, questions are answered by both Microsoft engineers and the general community of Microsoft channel members.
"There are no guaranteed response times," said Microsoft's channel marketing manager Kevin Burke. "But in the vast majority of cases we find answers are typically supplied within a couple of hours and sometimes within minutes," Burke said.
Microsoft has also put online the contents of its TechNet CDs (excluding resource guides) and is introducing a bi-weekly e-mail that will notify resellers and consultants of critical support issues like bug fixes. Together with KnowledgeBase which was previously available and contains 150,000 articles, troubleshooters and frequently asked questions, Microsoft expects the vast majority of resellers' questions and problems will now be resolved electronically.
"For those rare incidents where you're at the customer's site and can't get access to the Internet for some reason, or for questions you need immediate answers too, we're also providing resellers and consultants with two free telephone support incidents," Burke said.
"We're certainly recommending resellers reserve those calls for times when there is absolutely no other alternative but to make a support call."
The DirectAccess program is free to all resellers and consultants, who can register online at www.microsoft.com/directaccess/.