In response to Mike R. comments :

I have been following this thread carefully, because as with most of you,
this will definitely affect my future use of Protel software. Our company
has 10 user licenses for Protel 99SE. Fortunately we upgraded before prices
sky-rocketed to $8K/seat. I have forecasted next year's software budget for
our pcb department at an estimated 20K, because I was anticipating having to
upgrade to a new release of the Protel software. Now I may have to tell my
boss that we will need to double that cost within one year to pay for
maintenance. This I find terribly frustrating. The price has soared and now
we are hearing about expensive maintenance fees. The comment by Mike R.
below is a poor assessment of many companies that are using Protel. The
customer base is largely smaller companies that can not afford big dollars
for software tools, and so have bought into Protel at a much more affordable
price. This ATS program is a real kick in the pants to many current Protel
users, which will force many users to either not upgrade, or move to another
EDA solution. What I would love to see, and I am sure many others would
also, is improvements to the present software, with no additional customer
investment. When I say improvement, what I mean is listen carefully to the
customers requests and iron out all the bugs and frustrating quirks of the
software. Protel presently provides a pretty good package for
user-friendliness, and functionality. Improving upon this will only solidify
customer loyalty and draw a wider customer base. How about providing more
detailed documentation for Protel, or providing user-friendly tools to allow
customer development of Protel add-ons. I am very concerned about increasing
cost of running Protel, and I know that I may be pressured to look at other
alternatives to Protel, if this ATS comes into affect.

> I cant imagine that 2k or even 5 K is going to break anyone's piggy bank.
> This product cost  1/4 less than any competing product. Bugs or not.

This comment is very narrow in it's perspective, which leads me to think
that financial resources are not an issue for this user, perhaps working for
a large company with larger budgets, but does not take into account the many
smaller companies who have gone with Protel precisely because they operate
on restrictive budgets. This smug statement cuts like a knife into the
little guy trying to make a living for himself as a pcb design contractor.
Mike, I think your imagination needs to be expanded some !

> Personally, I think Altium is headed in the right direction, ( at least
> now). Their sites are on the big guys Cadence and maybe Mentor and Zuken.
> PADS is pretty much done from what I hear from other designers....and
> Cadence is swallowing up there users every day.  I think Altium is making
> some very crucial moves that will determine their stake and future in this
> market.  And besides, the stock price hasn't move much recently anyway so
> bold action may be required.  

> Mike Reagan

"The crucial move" seems to have drawn a united negative reaction from
Protel users, indicating Altium's direction is not sensitive to their
current customers, and that will spell disaster for Altium's future. I would
love to see the Protel product improve and continue to use it myself, but I
fear that I, along with many others, may be forced to look elsewhere for EDA
software, due to the corporate greed monster that has swallowed up our
beloved Protel. 

Daniel Webster
PCB Designer
Northern Airborne Technology

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