Software Assurance is not support. Support for software that has been legitimately licensed is a licensing right. You are entitled to support by virtue of purchasing the license. Having said that, there is a connection between Software Assurance and support and it comes from the amount of Software Assurance spend.
For each $20,000 in Software Assurance spent for the Server pool which includes Windows Server, SQL Server, CALs, etc., a single support incident is granted (yes, just one). For the Application pool – which is Office or Vision or Project, etc,, and the System pool (which includes the Windows client) – there is a single support instance granted for each $200,000 in Software Assurance coverage.
For mission critical applications, Microsoft offers Premier Support. Premier Support is an annual contract in which a defined number of hours for a specific disciplines are chosen. The most popular of these disciplines is called Problem Resolution Support (PRS). These disciplines are pretty rigorously enforced because Microsoft uses those numbers to calculate the required types of resources and the number of resources or support professionals that need to cover that contract.
If you are considering a Premier Support contract, it doesn’t come cheap ($40,000 and up). A Premium Support contract would be something to consider if you are contemplating an upgrade to Windows 8, or another complicated rollout for which you foresee needing additional support.