Microsoft Answers Rebranded as Microsoft Community

Microsoft Answers has got a new look and feel as well as a new name starting today. If you head to answers.microsoft.com, you would notice the clean white design, quite a change from the prominently green design before this, and a new name – Microsoft Community – integrating the new Microsoft logo.

Microsoft Answers is now Microsoft Community!

We’ve got a new name and a new look, but the Microsoft Community will continue to provide the same great questions and answers that you rely on to get the most out of your technology.

Microsoft Community are community-supported forums where Microsoft users and customer support agents from around the world connect to share ideas and solve problems. The site allows users to find answers, ask questions, and share their expertise. Users can submit their questions, and other users and agents post helpful replies and step-by-step instructions or add on to the common issues. The support agents moderate the discussions and mark useful replies as answers.

The community is structured in to eight categories based on products and technology: Hotmail, Messenger & SkyDrive, Internet Explorer, Office, Office for Mac. Virus and Malware, Windows, Windows Phone, and Zune.

While the design is neat and visually appealing, this looks like a quick rebranding exercise only. The URL is still answers.microsoft.com. At the moment, community.microsoft.com directs to Microsoft homepage and Microsoft may want to leverage the same. The categories are simply migrated and there has been no effort to refresh the same. For example, ‘Hotmail’ is not replaced by ‘Outlook’ and the URL of this category says ‘windowslive’. Ouch!

Microsoft Extends Support Period For Vista, 7

Ed Bott of ZDNet managed to spot a revision that Microsoft snuck into its support policy sometime this month that ups the support duration ante for Microsoft’s two latest consumer operating systems — Vista and 7 — to 10 years. He initially noticed it on the Microsoft Japan webpage, but shortly after received confirmation from Microsoft U.S. PR that this revision is in fact valid:

Microsoft is updating the Support Lifecycle policy for Windows desktop operating systems, including Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

The update will provide a more consistent and predictable experience for customers using  Microsoft Windows operating systems across OEM, consumer and business editions.

Microsoft still requires that customers have the most current Service Pack installed in order to continue to receive updates.

Through this update, customers who remain on the most current supported service pack will be eligible to receive both Mainstream and Extended Support, for a total of 10 years. 

Bott notes that one must not mistake the support lifecycle of Windows for its sales lifecycle; you can’t purchase a retail copy of XP or Vista today. Once Windows 8 launches later this year, Microsoft will be supporting a total of 4 operating systems at once, until Windows XP reaches the end of its support lifecycle on April 4th, 2014. That’s right; in about two years, the OS that has clung onto the PCs of various users worldwide will finally not be supported. If any of you are reading this on Windows XP, I highly recommend that you upgrade to a modern operating system.