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Each of these (except the third, and notice the italicized bolded section under the that and the fourth options) costs money. That's right, MSFT gets paid to support their own buggy products.

You're forgetting an important factor: all of these options (including items 1, 2, and 3) cost MS money too. Just answering a single no-charge support call costs at least $50. That's assuming that the call center vendors can provide support based on information in existing knowledge databases, and don't have to do further research; it also assumes a fairly short call (like minutes), although some support calls involve well over an hour of on-the-phone support.

Each incremental level of support also costs MS more money. Some of these levels offer support for developers and system administrators that go well beyond the traditional support call duty--including assistance with C++/VB/etc. programming problems involving MS technologies.

Certainly the pay-per-use and enterprise support agreements can be said to provide a revenue stream, but after the associated costs, it isn't really a source of income (profit). Many product design goals include reduction in support call volume over the previous version as one of the measures of success.

(Although I work for MS, the information I have provided is general enough to apply to most software companies. Except Oracle and IBM, of course, who actually do get significant income out of their support contracts).
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