Microsoft’s Bob Ward has a new post up on the CSS SQL Server Engineers blog about a change in their lifecycle support policy for unsupported service packs of products that are still in mainstream support. Previously, Product Support could not help you in this situation unless you had purchased a support agreement. Now, they will take your call, and give you limited troubleshooting support.
Many people may see this as a good thing, since they will be able to get some limited help from Microsoft if they are running on an unsupported service pack, but I actually think it is a bad thing overall. I am afraid that it will make it easier for individual DBAs and companies to avoid upgrading to a current service pack even longer than they otherwise would. Many DBAs (and companies) are overly cautious in my opinion when it comes to moving to the current service pack for whatever version of SQL Server they are running. Having to support additional, older service packs places more of a load on Microsoft’s support organization, and it makes the job of an ISV that uses SQL Server more difficult, since they have to test and provide support for these additional, older service packs. Quite often, people run into issues that have been improved or fixed in newer builds of SQL Server, if only they had made the effort to stay more current. I am probably overly critical (perhaps from my time in the Marines), but when I see someone running an “ancient” build of SQL Server, I start to wonder about what else may be going on with their environment.
Of course I know that many DBAs may not have a choice about staying current on their SQL Server service packs (and cumulative updates). It could be that their organization has rigid policies and/or a massive bureaucracy that prevents them from installing newer SQL Server builds. Or it could be that they just don’t know any better, or don’t care about having a supported service pack installed. Here is the current list of SQL Server 2008 post-SP1 builds, while here is the current list of SQL Server 2005 post-SP3 builds. Remember, only SQL Server 2005 SP3 and SQL Server 2008 SP1 are supported service packs right now. Since SQL Server 2005 SP3 CU8 was released on February 15, 2010, we are probably due for CU9 later this week or early next week. I will do my usual blog post when it is released.