Let me just say, if someone had told me at the moment I was ready to burst into tears (in a very masculine way, mind you) that I could pay $259 and the problem would vanish within an hour, I would have paid without blinking.
Some of your programs may offer support calls within the package. Do you have TechNet, MSDN, or Software Assurance? These typically have assisted support incidents. Are you in any of the Partner programs? Sometimes they allow you a free call or two as part of the program. It pays to know what you have because you never know when you might need it.
Microsoft Support: More tools makes for better support
Among the tools Microsoft Support used to help me was Easy Assist, a remote-control app that is easy to install and allowed Microsoft Support to control my screen, push apps my way, and make adjustments. Microsoft Support has a load of other tools to help gather and analyze data. More and more, they are finding ways to put these tools online to help administrators help themselves. Consider the Exchange Team's release of the Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer, a free tool that can be used to determine and troubleshoot connectivity.
Another tool that is helping Microsoft Support be more proactive is Customer Experience, a program that is part of the installation wizard of Microsoft servers and applications. If something bad happens, the tool gathers a greater level of context relating to the event, which can then be helpful in finding ways to avoid those events in the future.
The purpose of the support team is to "earn customer loyalty and improve product quality." I can say they certainly accomplished the first part with me. Prior to the support call I was calling down evil on SC DPM and ruing the day I ever laid eyes on it. After the support call I'm ready to begin working with it, and even to install the 2010 new release.
Have you ever had to call Microsoft for support? If so, what is your "in the trenches" horror story that your they (hopefully) helped you work through?
This article, "Making the most of Microsoft Support," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com.