Lifecycle Terms and Definitions

Originally published: February 24, 2020

Please go here to search for your product's lifecycle.


A program add-on is a utility or feature that aids in accomplishing a task or set of tasks. See the Fixed Policy FAQs for more information on how add-ons are supported.


A component is defined as a set of files or features that are included with a Microsoft major product. Components may be shipped with the product, included in a product service pack or update, or released later as a web download. See the Fixed Policy FAQs for more information on how components are supported.


Deprecation is the state of a feature, functionality, or service that is no longer in active development. A deprecated feature may be retired and removed from future releases. Deprecated services may be retired in the future.

End of Servicing

When a specific version, feature update, or servicing channel of a product will no longer receive quality or security updates, it has reached the end of servicing.

End of Support

End of Support is the end of Extended Support for products governed by the Fixed Policy, when support and servicing will no longer be available. Customers may purchase paid programs for applicable products.

Fixed Policy Lifecycle Phases

Mainstream Support

Mainstream support refers to the first phase (typically 5 years) of a product's lifecycle under the Fixed Policy and includes:

  • Request to change product design and features
  • Security updates
  • Non-security updates
  • Self-help support
  • Paid support

Extended Support

When applicable, the Extended Support phase follows Mainstream Support for products governed by the Fixed Policy. At the supported service pack level, Extended Support includes:

  • Security updates
  • Paid programs
  • For eligible Unified Support customers, the ability to request non-security fixes for select products.

Extended Security Update (ESU) Program

The Extended Security Update (ESU) program is a last resort option for customers who need to run certain legacy Microsoft products past the end of support. It includes Critical and/or Important security updates, as defined by the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC), for a maximum of three years after the product's End of Extended Support date.


A removal is when a feature or functionality is no longer available for use and has been removed from a product or service.


For services governed by the Modern Policy, a retirement is the end of availability and support of the service.

Service Pack

Service Pack is a legacy term referring to a tested, cumulative set of all hotfixes, security updates, critical updates and updates, as well as additional fixes for problems found internally since the release of the product. Service packs may also contain a limited number of customer-requested design changes or features. See the Fixed Policy to learn more.


Servicing generally refers to updates provided by Microsoft to customers.


Support generally refers to a customer's ability to obtain assistance from Microsoft.


A tool is a utility or feature that aids in accomplishing a task or set of tasks. For more information about how tools are supported, see the Fixed Policy FAQs.