> Perhaps they are after money.. perhaps not.. but as
> users should we be asking a fee to beta test (or alpha
> test) their software ?
> If your in the beta test program why not consider
> this?
> Afterall whats good for the goose is good for the
> gander
> Simon

I think that they are "after money". :) The question is whether the new fees
are reasonable, given that users have been able to download SPs and addon
servers for free up until now.

A bit OT, but bank fees in Australia have been controversial for some time.
The banks claim that in the past, their wealthier clients cross-subsidised
the remaining clients, and for an assortment of reasons, including a more
competitive financial services market, they need to impose fees on more of a
"user-pays" basis. But what is making the general Australian public angry is
high levels of profits reported by the banks, together with long queues
being the norm for those who need to interact with a teller, and the CEO of
one particular bank who gives a very good impression of being totally
politically naive.

It could perhaps be argued that Protel users have not done too badly to
date, in that they have been provided with SPs, addon servers, and utilities
such as Camtastic 2000 Designer's Edition, without having to specifically
pay for these. In spite of that, Altium's shareholders have still done
pretty well for themselves, so it is not as if Altium has to change its
charging policies in order to avoid financial oblivion.

For all that, *perhaps* Altium could still justify introducing new fees, on
grounds such as better securing their long-term financial viability. But the
question still remains as to whether the *magnitude* of these new fees is
reasonable. (SPs do contain some new features, such as the new
.Printout_Name Special String in SP6. But another aspect of SPs is bug
fixes, and it is questionable whether users should reasonably be expected to
have to pay for these to be rectified. After all, MS has released SPs for
assorted versions of Windows, and users can download these free of charge.)

As for beta testing, my impression is that beta testers are regarded as
being in a privileged position, as they get an earlier "look in" at what new
features the next version of software has to offer, and the opportunity, to
some extent, of influencing what new features are provided (and/or how these
are implemented).

But Altium's ATS policy could well change the attitude of at least some
would-be beta testers. Giving up time to look at new software (and provide
feedback on this) without re-imbursement is one thing, but it could well be
another if beta testers are still required to also have to pay for any bug
fixes and new features which are released between new versions. Time will
tell what attitude Altium takes to beta testers, but I am guessing that
unless a sufficiently large number of would-be testers revolt, Altium will
not provide any re-imbursement to them (either in the form of payment for
feedback provided, and/or discounts for upgrades or ATS fees).

I am still thinking about whether I would be prepared to be a beta tester
for free. But it would not be just my decision, as I am not self-employed...

Geoff Harland.
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