Windows Azure Cloud Services Support Lifecycle Policy

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Windows Azure Cloud Services (Web and Worker Roles/Platform as a Service), allows developers to easily deploy and manage application services while delegating the management of underlying Role Instances and Operating System to the Windows Azure Platform.

The following document describes the lifecycle policy details for the Guest OS provided by Windows Azure for Cloud Services. These policies exclude Windows Azure Virtual Machines (IaaS). Please follow the links for more detailed information on the current versions supported and subsequent retirement dates.

Guest OS Family

"Guest OS family" refers to a version of underlying Windows Server Operating System that is used in Windows Azure Cloud Services.

GUEST OS FAMILY POLICY

Windows Azure Cloud Services will support no fewer than the latest two Guest OS Families for deploying new Cloud Services. Microsoft will provide notification 12 months before retiring a Guest OS Family in order to smooth the transition to a supported Guest OS Family.


For more information on supported Guest OS families, please refer to this link above.

Guest OS Version (Patch Level)

"Guest OS Version" refers to the MSRC (Microsoft Security and Response Center) patch level for a given Guest OS Family. Windows Azure regularly updates every Guest OS family with the latest Security Updates released by MSRC.

GUEST OS VERSION POLICY

Windows Azure will support the latest two guest OS versions for each family. Customers using the Automatic Update option always receive the latest Guest OS Version as it is rolled out. Microsoft will provide a 60 day grace period for customers using the manual update option before they must adopt one of the suported versions in order to continue to use the Cloud Service under the terms of the Windows Azure SLA.

Windows Azure SDK Policy

Windows Azure SDK is the core building block that helps developers author Cloud Services using Windows Azure Service Runtime Programming model, debug using emulators on the local machine, , and deploy to Windows Azure data centers in the cloud.

WINDOWS AZURE SDK POLICY

Windows Azure Cloud Services will support no fewer than the latest two SDK versions for deploying new Cloud Services. Microsoft will provide notification 12 months before retiring a SDK in order to smooth the transition to a supported version.


The Windows Azure SDK Policy covers Windows Azure SDK Authoring Tools, REST APIs, Client Libraries, Command line utilities, Compute & Storage Emulators, and Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio.

Frequently Asked Questions (Guest OS)

When will a Guest OS family be retired?
In the future whenever a new Guest OS family is introduced, Windows Azure will provide 12 months of notice to retire the oldest Guest OS family from the list of supported OS families.

How will customers be notified of a Guest OS Family retirement?
Customers will be notified thru various communication channels – blog post, management portal notification, and direct communication to assigned service administrators. The latest information about any Guest OS family and version will be posted on MSDN: Windows Azure Guest OS Releases and SDK Compatibility Matrix.

How can I mitigate the impacts of migration?
Customers should use latest Guest OS family for designing their Cloud Services and plan to migrate to a Guest OS family whenever a newer Guest OS family is introduced.

What if my web application requires deeper integration with the OS?
Customers whose web application architecture requires deeper dependency on the underlying Operating System are advised to use platform supported capabilities such as "Startup Tasks" (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/gg456327.aspx) or other extensibility mechanisms provided by the platform in the future as appropriate. Alternatively, customers can also use Windows Azure’s Virtual Machine (IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service) offering – which has a wider selection of Operating Systems. For more information see http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/private-cloud/default.aspx.

What can I expect during the 12 months of notification period?
A gradual retirement process will begin 6 months into the notification period. Events that would occur include

  • Customers who are still using a retired Guest OS family will be notified through various channels (email, portal messages, phone call).
  • The newer version of Cloud Services SDK won’t support the retired Guest OS family.
  • New deployments of Cloud Services will not be permitted on the retired family.

What can I expect after the 12 months of notification period?
At the end of the 12 month notification period, Windows Azure will stop providing the latest/patched version for a retired OS family. The cloud services using the retired OS family will be unsupported and will be stopped.

What can I expect after the grace period for Guest OS version (patch level) expiries?
When a Guest OS Version is retired, customers with the manual upgrade option will have 60 days to upgrade their services to a supported Guest OS version. After this grace period expires, Cloud Services using the retired OS version will be upgraded to a supported Guest OS version.

How will customers be notified of Guest OS Version updates?
Cloud Services customers using either the manual or automatic update option will be notified by Windows Azure (RSS feed, MSDN etc.) to inform them of the new Guest OS update and the start of the 60 day of grace period. The notification will also be posted on the Windows Azure Guest OS Releases and SDK Compatibility Matrix along with the release notes of the latest Guest OS version.

Frequently Asked Questions (SDK)

How will customers be notified of the retiring SDK?
Microsoft will provide 12 month advance notification to the end of support of the retiring SDK in order to facilitate a smooth transition to a supported SDK. Further, Customers will be notified thru various communication channels – Windows Azure Management Portal, Developer Center, blog post, and direct communication to assigned service administrators.

Can customers author Windows Azure Cloud Services using a "to-be" retired Windows Azure SDK during the 12 month period?
Yes, Customers will have full access to author, deploy and modify Cloud Services using the "to-be" retired Windows Azure SDK during the 12 month grace period. During the 12 month grace period, customers are advised to migrate to a newer supported version of Windows Azure SDK as appropriate.

Can customers author and modify Windows Azure Cloud Services using a retired Windows Azure SDK after the 12 month notification period?
After the 12 month notification period, the SDK will be retired and will not be available for download from Microsoft download center. Any new deployments of Windows Azure Cloud Services using the retired SDK will not be permitted by the Windows Azure platform. Further, Microsoft will not provide customer support on the retired SDK.

What happens to Customer’s running Cloud Services (deployments) authored using unsupported Windows Azure SDK version?
Microsoft will not delete customer’s deployments (cloud services) authored using unsupported Windows Azure SDK. It is customer’s responsibility to make sure that their deployments (cloud services) are compatible with Windows Azure Platform Runtime & Management API version. Microsoft will clearly publish the SDK Compatibility with Platform Runtime & Management APIs. Customer’s Cloud Services authored & deployed using an unsupported of Windows Azure SDK will not be covered under Windows Azure Cloud Services SLA. Customer’s Cloud Service will not be covered under support contract as well.

What is the retirement plan for SDK that are older than the currently supported versions N-1?
Microsoft will periodically retire older SDKs based on customer usage & deployment patterns. Microsoft will provide 12 months notification in advance of the end of support of the retiring SDK.

What is the upgrade path for moving to a newer version of SDK?
Microsoft will continue to enable the ability for customers to install and run the current (N) and the previous (N-1) version of SDK side by side on their development machines to test customer applications compatibility and assist in migration to newer version of SDK. Further, Microsoft will provide customers an upgrade path to a newer version of SDK including their cloud service project upgrade from Visual Studio.

Will the older versions of .NET Framework be supported in new OS Families?
Microsoft will carefully analyze customer application and deployment patterns and will provide choice and flexibility of frameworks & OS Families. While the new OS Families will always have support for the latest version of .NET Framework, customers will have the ability to install their choice of older versions of .NET Framework in the new guest OS using platform supported capabilities.

Important Links and URLs

Last Review : August 19, 2013