The change applies to all Microsoft products—enterprise and consumer—and immediately affects users of Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5.
Mainstream life-cycle support for the server expired on Dec. 31, 2005, but the mini-extension means that a "critical" patch scheduled to ship in Januarys update cycle will be available for Exchange Server 5.5 users.
Before this change, Exchange 5.5 users would have had to pay for patches via a special custom support program.
"We changed the end of support dates to map to the monthly security update release cycle so our customers can take advantage of the latest security updates," said Ines Vargas, group manager for the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Program.
"By eliminating that 10-to-15-day gap, were making sure that our dates make sense to our customers—that theyre even more consistent and predictable."
Microsofts support for its software products has traditionally ended at the end of a calendar quarter—Dec. 31, March 31, June 30 or Sept. 30—mere days before the second Tuesday of the following month, when Microsoft issues security updates.
The Redmond, Wash., company acknowledged that the timing put some customers in the tough spot of not having fixes shortly after the products support expired.