Starting September 14th, the day Windows ME is to be released, Microsoft
support goes on a "pay per incident" schedule. Windows 98 (including the
Windows ME version, we presume), Windows 2000 and Microsoft Office will
allow only two free support incidents each. Windows95 goes on
"pay per incindent" with no free incidents.
Previous to this date, unlimited free support was available for the first 90 days after install.
This applies only to copies purchased retail. Copies preloaded on, or supplied with, computers (OEM distributions) do not qualify for support from Microsoft at all. In fact, users who purchased Microsoft Office retail (about $500) have been refused support because they were running it on an "unsupported" (OEM) distribution of Windows.
Given the almost non-existent profits in hardware today, OEMs cannot afford to provide meaningful support for Microsoft products on which they don't make a dime, thus most Microsoft software is essentially unsupported.
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