SAP AG extended the maintenance period for its R/3 4.6C product by a year and said older versions of the software will be supported until the end of 2003, after which customers can buy an additional year of service.

R/3 4.6C will now be supported until the end of March 2006, extending the maintenance period for the product to a total of about six years, SAP, of Walldorf, Germany, said in a statement Wednesday.

The maintenance period for older versions of R/3, namely 3.1I, 4.0B, 4.5B and 4.6B, will be extended by four months to the end of 2003, SAP said. Users opting not to upgrade at that time will offered another year extension for an additional two per cent maintenance fee, SAP said.

The new extension of maintenance offer will become a standard part of SAP’s product offering, allowing customers to get the most out of the investment in their current system and thoroughly plan an upgrade, the company said. To make sure customers do upgrade, SAP now also offers a free Upgrade Planning Service in the extended maintenance phase.