I admit to being a bit shocked by the response, which was immediate and helpful. It started with several persons working to organize my support. Emily Ohlsen handled all the connections and got me through to Jason Buffington, Senior Technical Product Manager for SC DPM -- in other words, the perfect guy to speak with. He was at a conference (and was busy with multiple sessions he was charged with presenting) but still called me at 6 a.m. to see whether he could help. That was impressive. They made sure I was routed to the right people under Microsoft CTS (Commercial Tech Support), and I was on the line with Michael Jacquet and Thomas O'Malley, both from Texas. Within an hour, Jacquet and O'Malley saw where the backup sector was to restore my tables and restored it on the disk. They used a scary tool called Disk Probe that I promptly deleted off my system when they were done. All of my data was just as it was before.
You may contend that it is only because I'm a journalist that I got that kind of support. I, however, don't think that is accurate. Microsoft Support is certainly tiered with varying price points, but all of them lead back to the same core of professionals (6,000-plus worldwide) within CTS. This one experience made me think about the value in Microsoft Support. The one time I needed them, they impressed me that much.
Microsoft Support: How much hand-holding do you need?
For those who anticipate heavy hand-holding, Microsoft Services Premier Support offers the highest level of proactive support, account management, and problem resolution services. There are four offerings to choose from depending on your IT environment (Foundation, Standard, Plus, and Ultimate). Yes, the cost for this level of support could be in the thousands or tens of thousands, but it is for larger enterprise customers who need help with setup and migration issues that go well beyond fix-my-problem support.
Professional Support Options include many self-help support options that Microsoft expects to expand in the future. Microsoft Support aspires to be "out of the phone support business" by pursuing improved proactive monitoring and providing more Fix It-type options, better diagnostic solutions, and more self-help through Solution Centers, Community Resources, and the like. In addition, there are Problem Resolution Services that offer a pay-per-incident option. A single incident rate is $259 during business hours and $515 after hours. Note: Email-only support is $99, and you can buy a five-pack of phone incidents for $1,289.