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Microsoft support policy on hardware not in the Windows Catalog (Windows HCL)

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This article was previously published under Q142865
SUMMARY
The Microsoft Windows Catalog (also known as the hardware compatibility list or as the HCL) is a compilation of computers and computer hardware that have been extensively tested with Windows for stability and compatibility. Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) uses the catalog to determine whether particular hardware is supported for use with the Windows operating system.

Before you install Windows on a computer, check the Windows Catalog to determine whether the computer is certified by Microsoft as Windows-compliant.To see the Windows Catalog, visit the following Microsoft Web site:For more information about hardware that is supported in Windows, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
131303 Latest Windows 2000 and Windows NT Hardware Compatibility List (HCL)
Note Small Business Server uses the same HCL.
314062 The latest Windows XP Hardware Compatibility List
MORE INFORMATION
A hardware device is unsupported if it is not listed on the HCL. In order for a computer to be considered an HCL-compliant system, the computer must be listed on the HCL. If a computer is not listed on the HCL, but is made up of hardware from the HCL (for example: motherboard from a reference system, SCSI controller, video adapter, and network card) it is not considered an HCL computer. Any computer that contains a device that is not on the HCL is not considered compliant. If a particular computer is on the HCL, it can contain any combination of devices listed on the HCL and still qualify for support even though the system as a whole was not tested.

Microsoft follows the guidelines and troubleshooting steps listed below on non-HCL equipment support issues.

Step 1: Hardware Configuration Inquiry

  1. The Microsoft Support Professional asks about the hardware configuration.
  2. Hardware not found on the Windows HCL is unsupported. However, Microsoft will aid in troubleshooting these issues, if the customer requests it. Microsoft does not guarantee that a resolution will be found for non-HCL equipment. Applicable Professional support rates will apply for Microsoft's troubleshooting assistance.
  3. Upon agreement, the support professional proceeds to Step 2 below. Microsoft does not guarantee a solution in cases with non-HCL devices.
  4. If there is no agreement, where the customer feels that an incident should not be charged, the support professional proceeds to Step 3 below.

Step 2: Troubleshooting

A standard troubleshooting process is used to isolate the cause of theproblem. The following lists some of the resources and steps that theMicrosoft Support Professionals uses, which is also available to you:
  • To view the Microsoft Knowledge Base, visit the following Microsoft Web site:http://support.microsoft.com/support
  • Determine if the problem occurs on supported hardware device.
  • Check hardware configuration, driver configuration, or both, by removing unsupported (or suspected) components (for example: adapter cards and video cards). Issues that relate to unsupported systems and motherboards cannot be approached in this fashion.
During the course of troubleshooting, if the problem is isolated to anon-HCL device, the support professional proceeds to Step 3 below and closes the call(incident).

If there is no solution to the problem, the support professional explains the reasonand recommends constructive alternatives, such as one or all of thefollowing:
  • The engineer offers the phone and Bulletin Board Service (BBS) number or Web site for the motherboard, adapter card or other device manufacturer, if available, so that the customer can ask for troubleshooting suggestions and possible updated third-party drivers.
  • The support professional may recommend that the customer request the hardware vendor to try the installation of Windows on the system or configure it in such a way that Windows becomes stable and functional.
  • The support professional informs the customer of BIOS or firmware updates. Some information about the update is available in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Step 3: Alternative Resources

Enterprise Customer Unit (ECU) policy, in regard to a Windows failurerelated to Non-HCL hardware, is for the support professional to fax the appropriateKnowledge Base Troubleshooting Guide article to the customer:
126690 Windows NT 4.0 Setup Troubleshooting Guide
139733 Windows NT 3.5x Setup Troubleshooting Guide


Alternatively, the support professional can provide information about the location of thesame file(s) and where they can be downloaded (Microsoft WWW server, FTPserver, and Microsoft Download Library). If the customer elects to bypassStep 2 (does not want to be charged for 1 incident), then the customer maytry to resolve the issue without charge using the troubleshootingdocuments that are in the Knowledge Base. If the customer wants to continue with anincident charge even after completing Step 2, the support professional can inform thecustomer of the Microsoft Consulting Line at (800) 936-1565.

Server Down or Data Loss Issues

There is a risk that an installation or upgrade of the Windowsoperating system on unsupported hardware results in loss of some operatingsystem functionality or data. In cases where the previous operating systemhas been a Microsoft operating system (such as MS-DOS,Windows 3.1x, Windows 95, and OS/2 1.3), the support professional determines if the issue is a problem with the operating system or non-HCL hardware related. If the problem is the operating system, the support professional will file a report and evaluate the problem to provide a fix. The support professional will also try to recover the system.

If the problem is related to hardware incompatibility, the customer must restore the previous operating system and data from backup. If thecustomer does not have a backup of the previous operating system, thesupport professional will help the customer in installing only the previous,working operating system. This does not include other drive filestructures, data or security, or any other previous operating systemsettings. The support professional will then refer the customer to the MicrosoftConsulting Line for any additional file structure (not data) recovery, domainconfiguration (user accounts, trust, shares, printers, replication)recovery, as applicable.

In cases where the previous operating system is not a Microsoft operatingsystem (for example: Power PC system with AIX, OS/2 or Macintosh operatingsystem), Microsoft cannot help customers in the recovery of theirsystem. Requisite knowledge and experience to perform recovery on non-Microsoft operating systems do not exist in Microsoft Product SupportServices.
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Article ID: 142865 - Last Review: 12/03/2007 04:18:05 - Revision: 5.11

Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server, Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition, Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition, Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition, Microsoft BackOffice Small Business Server 4.0a, Microsoft BackOffice Small Business Server 4.5, Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1, Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Professional, Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, 64-Bit Datacenter Edition, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Web Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition, Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition, Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Standard Edition

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