At 03:13 PM 12/5/2001 -0500, Brian Guralnick wrote:

>     Usually when I purchase any software, or hardware, from any other 
> vendor, I can
>get support for free almost indefinitely without having to renew some sort of
>membership.

Actually, indefinite support is, in my experience, the exception rather 
than the rule. We are all using one of the Microsoft operating systems. As 
I recall, free support for that is limited to a few months from first 
contact. My wife's business uses a very common accounting program, support 
is free for a few months, after that it is pretty expensive. And all the 
other major CAD vendors charge plenty for support.

Protel was an exception.

While I am concerned that the ATS charge seems high compared to the 
software purchase price, we don't really know where that price is going to 
settle. I am much more concerned about all the confusion that comes from 
uncertainty about where all this is going; supposedly on of the purposes of 
ATS is to make it easy to budget.

Hey! It's not easy yet!

I'm hearing reports of users bailing or at least researching alternatives.

I'm trying to figure out why all the secrecy and mystery. Obviously, a 
company needs to preserve some flexibility, and when there is a sale, there 
is always the customer who bought just before the sale who is irritated. If 
a sale were announced in advance, obviously purchasers would wait unless 
they absolutely had to have it TODAY. So the company might as well announce 
the sale immediately. Sometimes, however, companies will issue a credit to 
purchasers who bought just before a sale was announced.

If a sale involves a small savings, it is not very important, but 20%, ....

What my wife has done in her business has been to issue a credit to the 
customer against future purchases. Companies have sales to jumpstart cash 
flow or move inventory. The latter motivation is not particularly relevant 
to the software industry. By issuing a credit instead of making a refund, 
the customer is kept happy and immediately cash flow is not negatively 
impacted.

Altium did this to a small degree with the ATS announcement. It was 
back-dated about a month, as I recall.

One buyer wrote about missing the deadline by a day or two. We don't yet 
know the impact of that, because we don't yet know the true value of ATS, 
we only know what upgrades *including* ATS are costing. It seems pretty 
unlikely that a P98 upgrader is getting the upgrade free and ATS for $1995.

We had been expecting the next upgrade to be $995 or so.

Protel, for the last few years, has only had modest "sales," i.e. price 
reductions, and it is sudden price reductions that get buyers angry if they 
missed them. Instead, Protel has announced price *increases* well in 
advance. This has a similar effect to a sale in that it will stimulate 
fence-sitters to make a purchase decision, but it does not cause any ill will.

Anyway, it is obvious that if a company needs to lower a price temporarily 
(or permanently), or offer some extra substantial benefit, which amounts to 
the same thing, it must announce it on a certain date. Those who buy before 
that date may just be out of luck unless the company accomodates them in 
some way. I'd suggest a certain period before the sale date where those who 
purchased within that period get some benefit, not as great as the sale 
benefit or price reduction, but something that makes the difference not so 
drastic. For example, Protel 99SE purchasers in the three months prior to 
October 1 might get ATS at half price if they buy it within, say, three 
months of the ATS for pre-10/01 licensees announcement. This will not only 
mollify them but it may actually stimulate ATS sales for that group....

As to those of us who bought Protel even before that, we have had the use 
of the program, which is probably worth a few hundred dollars a month, at 
least for serious users.


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