What does “the end of mainstream support” mean?

Recently Exchange 2010 reached the end of mainstream support. Depending on how much you like click bait websites, you may have heard (or imagined as most certainly happened with some bloggers) all kinds of different things that might mean. Well never fear citizen. I am here to explain what that means for you, and just what you should do about it.

When I was about 10 years old I discovered a really cool book called “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”. Almost all discussion of this book is a terrible digression from the topic at hand, except to say that one of the main selling points of the fictional guide featured in this book was the cover that said “Don’t Panic”. Well, “Don’t Panic” is my first bit of advice about what the end of mainstream support means.

Maybe it’s best to start of explaining what the end of mainstream support means by explaining what it does not mean. It does not means Microsoft will not long provide security updates for Exchange 2010. It does not mean you can no longer get support from Microsoft for problems with Exchange 2010. Most importantly it does not mean your Exchange 2010 servers are going to blow up, stop working, or in any other way cause a disaster.

There are really two things that go away when a Microsoft product reaches the end of mainstream support; free call-in support and new feature development.

The loss of free call-in support is not really applicable to Exchange. There are a bunch of different route you can go to get support from Microsoft for Exchange problems, but none of them are “free” to begin with. Depending on how you buy your software, and what agreements you have in place with Microsoft, support for Exchange 2010 problems may become more expensive for your organization, or they may not. For instance, if your deploying an Exchange 2010 server as part of a hybrid migration from Exchange 2003 you can still call Office 365 support for free even though main stream support for Exchange 2010 has ended all Exchange 2003 is completely past its end of life.

The other thing that end of mainstream support means is that Microsoft is done devolving new features for Exchange 2010. I don’t think this is a huge problem for most Exchange customers either. I have a hard time anyone being upset that their 5 plus year old messaging software is no longer being actively developed. If you want new features, maybe it’s time to look at an upgrade to Exchange 2013.

The main thing that IT departments worry about when they hear “end of support” is security patches. Fear not as security patches for Exchange 2010 are not scheduled to end until 2020. You’ve got another full 5 years before that becomes a concern.

All-in-all the end of mainstream support is no big deal. Personally I would not recommend deploying new Exchange 2010 servers without a really good reason (like to above mentioned hybrid migration from Exchange 2003 to Office 365), but if you have an existing Exchange deployment this mile stone does not change anything of significance.