The Microsoft Azure Support Lifecycle policy is categorized into 4 categories.
Azure Virtual Machines Lifecycle Support Policy: The Microsoft software supported on Azure Virtual Machines (Infrastructure as a Service) as described here, will follow the existing Mainstream and Extended Support phase of the on-premises lifecycle support policy outlined here.
Azure Cloud Services Lifecycle Support Policy: Microsoft 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 Azure Platform. The lifecycle policy details for the Guest OS provided by Azure for Cloud Services is outlined below.
Azure Services Lifecycle Support Policy: All other Azure Services follow the Online Services Support Lifecycle Policy for Business and Developer outlined here.
Microsoft 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 Azure Platform.
"Guest OS family" refers to a version of underlying Windows Server Operating System that is used in Azure Cloud Services.
GUEST OS FAMILY POLICY
Microsoft 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 site.
"Guest OS Version" refers to the MSRC (Microsoft Security and Response Center) patch level for a given Guest OS Family. Microsoft Azure regularly updates every Guest OS family with the latest Security Updates released by MSRC.
GUEST OS VERSION POLICY
Microsoft 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 supported versions in order to continue to use the Cloud Service under the terms of the Microsoft Azure SLA.
Microsoft Azure SDK is the core building block that helps developers author Cloud Services using Microsoft Azure Service Runtime Programming model, debug using emulators on the local machine, and deploy to Microsoft Azure data centers in the cloud.
MICROSOFT AZURE SDK POLICY
Microsoft 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 Microsoft Azure SDK Policy covers Microsoft Azure SDK Authoring Tools, REST APIs, Client Libraries, Command line utilities, Compute & Storage Emulators, and Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio.
Guest OS Questions
For all implementation details of Azure OS Retirement please refer to the Azure Guest OS Releases and SDK Compatibility Matrix MSDN page here.
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: Microsoft Azure Guest OS Releases and SDK Compatibility Matrix.
At the end of the 12 month notification period, Microsoft 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.
Each Guest OS Version is normally disabled 60 days after its release. After this grace period expires, Cloud Services using the retired OS version will be force upgraded to a supported Guest OS version.
Cloud Services customers using either the manual or automatic update option will be notified by Azure (RSS feed, MSDN etc.) to inform them of the new Guest OS update. The notification will also be posted on the Azure Guest OS Releases and SDK Compatibility Matrix along with the release notes of the latest Guest OS version.
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 – Azure Management Portal, Developer Center, blog post, and direct communication to assigned service administrators.
Yes, Customers will have full access to author, deploy and modify Cloud Services using the "to-be" retired 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 Azure SDK as appropriate.
After the 12 month notification period, the SDK will be retired and will not be available for download from the Microsoft download center. Any new deployments of Azure Cloud Services using the retired SDK will not be permitted by the Azure platform. Further, Microsoft will not provide customer support on the retired SDK.
Microsoft will not delete a customer’s deployments (cloud services) authored using unsupported Azure SDK. It is customer’s responsibility to make sure that their deployments (cloud services) are compatible with 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 Microsoft Azure SDK will not be covered under Azure Cloud Services SLA. Customer’s Cloud Service will not be covered under support contract as well.
Microsoft will continue to enable the ability for customers to install and run the current (N) and the previous (N-1) version of the SDK side by side on their development machines to test customer applications compatibility and assist in migration to a newer version of the SDK. Further, Microsoft will provide customers an upgrade path to a newer version of the SDK including their cloud service project upgrade from Visual Studio.
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.