At 10:55 AM 3/23/01 -0500, Bagotronix Tech Support wrote:

>Yes, the upgrade was PRICEY$$$.  But I have been using PCB 2.8 and SCH 3.2
>since 1996, so it was time to upgrade.  And I saved a lot of money by not
>upgrading each incremental release since then.

Some money, perhaps, but not a lot of money, and more likely no money was 
saved at all. Protel stands out among CAD companies in not punishing users 
for not keeping current with maintenance. Instead, Protel has no 
maintenance charge, but does charge for upgrades which amounts to something 
similar. But it is not the same. Protel issues service packs without 
charge, whereas with other companies, no maintenance, no bug fixes.

The upgrade from 2.8 to 99SE is currently $2995. Let's suppose that Mr. 
Bagget had kept current. He would have paid to go from 2.8 to version 3, 
from version 3 to 98, and from 98 to 99-99SE. The Protel 99 upgrade was 
originally announced at $995. I don't know what the others were, but I 
would guess
it was perhaps $995 for each. So the current upgrade is the same price 
except for, of course, it is paid now rather than earlier; the difference 
is thus only the value of money. I'm not going to go through the whole 
calculation, but for maybe $20 per month, Mr. Bagget could have had all the 
improvements for that whole period, and he could still have used 2.8 
whenever he really preferred it.

>   The real reason I decided to
>upgrade was to stop having to create a part footprint every time I wanted to
>use a SMT chip.  The PCB libs in 2.8 didn't have much in the way of JEDEC
>SMT footprints.

So, for example, he could have obtained parts in more recent libraries, 
placed them on a PCB, and then taken the PCB back to 2.8, which later 
versions will write.

The upshot of this is that if you really want to save money, buy each 
upgrade, if not when it comes out, then when Protel announces that the 
price is going to go up if you don't buy now. But it would not be a bad 
idea at all to simply buy upgrades at first announcement. I waited perhaps 
6 months to get Protel 99, and I saved $300 by doing that, because I bought 
it on a special offer. $50 per month. Not enough, really. I know users who 
went immediately to Protel 99 and were immediately pleased. Sure, there 
were problems. But there were also improvements that were worthwhile to them.

I upgraded to 99SE at the $695 offer because I knew that 99 was going to 
get better and I would be eventually buying it anyway. The signal integrity 
tools hooked me, as I recall. But I did not actually start using 99 for 
quite a few months; in fact, I think my first real operations in 99 were 
prerelease 99SE.

Another reason to immediately upgrade on new release is that it helps 
Protel. When Protel receives more upgrade fees, and it receives them 
sooner, it has more resources to provide better upgrades. Other CAD 
programs charge perhaps 15% per year for maintenance. (Sometimes more, but 
the industry seems to be settling on 15%). That would be $900 per year for 
Protel 99SE.

I don't know what the coming upgrade will cost, but I would guess $995. 
That boils down to something like $40 per month. I'd suggest budgeting that 
amount. It's really very, very small compared to the value of the upgrades.

>Also, another reason I upgraded all around (W2K, 99SE) is that I can't
>afford to let my skills and knowledge base become obsolete.

Right. I did fine with Tango. At least that is what I thought. I could do 
complex split planes, etc. The only thing I could not do was blind vias, 
and I hadn't needed them. Actually, however, my business was slowly dying 
and I was being held back in ways that were not visible to me at the time. 
I tolerated slow DRCs, glacial performance with large boards, etc. I had no 
idea what it would be like to manually route gridless without having to 
worry about clearance violations, I didn't even know that such a thing was 

I know that quite a few users bought version 3 and were unhappy with it, 
and because version 3 was the introduction of the Client-Server 
architecture, the basis for everything after that, the impression lingered 
that the upgrades were more trouble than they were worth. I'm not going to 
argue about version 3; I never used it, and I know some other users who 
liked version 3 right from the start; I suspect that differences in user 
system configurations made it seem terribly buggy to some and just fine for 
others. But I know that somewhere around SP2 for Protel 98, most 2.8 users 
started surrendering to the future.

Abdulrahman Lomax
P.O. Box 690
El Verano, CA 95433

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