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Definition

support

1) In information technology, support refers to functionality that is provided between or among products, programs, devices, modes, or accessories. For example, if you purchase a graphics program that allows for the inclusion of text inserts, audio, and full-motion video clips, you can create multimedia presentations. This program can be said to support text, audio, and full-motion video. Another example is a Web browser that can function with Java; the browser thus supports Java. Yet another example is a telephone line that can be used with a digital subscriber line (DSL) connection. This line can be said to support DSL. In general, if product X can be used with a program, device, mode, or accessory Y without the need for significant modification of either X or Y, then X supports Y. If product X cannot be used with a program, device, mode, or accessory Z without substantial modification of X or Z, then X does not support Z.

2) Support can also mean the personal assistance vendors provide to technicians and end users concerning hardware, operating systems, and programs. The term is frequently associated with the telephone help lines provided by most vendors. In this sense, the quality of support can be graded in degrees, ranging from atrocious to outstanding. The best customer or technical support consists of real-time conversations between end users and knowledgeable representatives for the vendor, and the availability of such representatives without long hold times. Such support is sometimes free, but often it is expensive, metered by the minute. In some cases, e-mail exchanges can suffice instead of telephone conversations, provided both the customer and the vendor representative know how to write what they mean in a clear, accurate, and concise manner.

This was last updated in September 2005

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