At 03:51 PM 12/5/2001 -0500, Bagotronix Tech Support wrote:
>I think that free support should be maintained for old products forever, as
>long as there is no cost associated with maintaining that free support.
>
>"No cost support" is possible.  It consists of downloadable service packs
>for the software, FAQs, bug lists, and workarounds, all on the company's
>website.  I understand that they cannot offer free telephone or e-mail
>support forever, but website support they can.

I agree.

A year or so ago, I bought a Compaq notebook computer from a close-out 
distributor. They told me that I could get the manual from Compaq. So I 
went to the Compaq web site and found that Compaq had arranged with a 
company which provided manuals. For about $50, I think. It might have been 
$100. The PDF manual had been removed from the Compaq site.

I returned the computer and find myself very reluctant to consider Compaq 
computers. Sure, they probably made some money selling the rights to the 
manuals. But, essentially, they sold out their customers, because only 
customers need those manuals, perhaps it was lost or damaged.

Because all of the development cost for the manuals was absorbed into the 
cost for the computer, getting some money for the ongoing rights to publish 
the manual probably seemed like free money to the Compaq bean counters. As 
they say, penny-wise, pound foolish. Almost every manual sold by that 
company will generate a jolt of ill-will against Compaq. People know, by 
now, that documentation costs are included in the product cost, and with 
the web, the cost of distributing it has become very very low. If I lose my 
Protel manual, no big deal, I can get the PDF. Protel sells the book for 
$90. Given the press run, that's probably a fair price. But I certainly 
hope that Protel doesn't decide to dump the PDF on the theory that it could 
then sell more manuals....

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