At 02:21 PM 9/16/2002 -0700, Daniel Webster wrote: >lease help me to understand this. While ATS is said to be scraped (Thank >you Altium, this is a very encouraging development, and as one of the long >time customers, convinces me to take another hopeful look at continuing with >Protel software), yet this paragraph seems to imply that some users will pay >for "hotline phone support and pre-paid upgrades", and ATS contracts will be >honored in full. What meaneth this ?
I don't think it is too hard to understand, though there are certainly aspects that have not been made clear. As I read it, Protel is returning to the "free service pack" and "fee for upgrade" policy. Yet if you have already paid for ATS, you will get what you paid for, i.e., any upgrades that are released during the maintenance period for which you paid. Further, you may get special access to a support hotline. Telephone support is expensive and I would not be surprised to find that Altium maintains a support product for those who want hotline support after the first year. Most users won't need it. And most of the rest can use this list or lists like it, we find that better answers come this way anyway. > Is ATS scraped or not? Why would some >customers pay a fee to recieve special support, while others will recieve it >for free. ATS was a program which promised certain things. The big thing was upgrade; phone support was improved for people on ATS. I think, I don't know from experience. Protel phone support was never very good, but the users made up for it in spades with mutual support. This means, effectively, DXP "free" for those who paid the ATS fee while owning P99SE -- this would only be people who paid the DXP upgrade --, or who had ATS included when they bought P99SE at the price that increased about the same time that the ATS plan was announced. ATS is scrapped as the only way that support and upgrade would be provided. We don't know what they would have done, since ATS did not live long enough, but with other companies, sometimes it is necessary to pay all maintenance up to date in order to get the latest product. This essentially penalizes late buyers, since they pay the full amount yet have missed all the intermediate upgrades and bug fixes, etc. It would not be at all offensive for them to establish a program providing premium support, say, a guaranteed phone-back time, as well as free upgrades, maybe a certain amount of training, for an annual fee. They could have called it ATS, in fact. But it would not be a great idea, now, to call it that. I'd suggest calling it "Premium Support," or something like that. > This sounds like some users will be paying for the bug fixes while >others users wait and recieve the free service packs. I am just a little >confused here ! No, it definitely means that when a service pack is released (and that is how bug fixes are provided), every licensee for the program (including, traditionally, demo users) will have access to it. They won't be looking at whether or not you are current on maintenance. When a new product is released, which typically is not fully file-compatible and has a great deal of variant code, introducing many new features, it will be available by paying an upgrade charge. That charge may change over time, but, historically, it has changed fairly slowly or with plenty of notice, and even sometimes is decreased with special offers. Typically at some point Protel announced that purchasers of the current version would get the next one free. My own opinion is that they should stage this somewhat, because it offends my sensibilities that someone who bought the program on July 31 would basically be SOL compared with one who bought it a day later. (They could do this by, at the same time, giving, retroactively, a partial credit toward upgrade for earlier buyers, perhaps so much per month so that there is no sudden jump in cost based on a trivial time difference.) Notice that the way they have done it, earlier buyers of a program sometimes pay *more*, effectively, to get through the next version. Altium sales has explained this to me as justified because the earlier purchaser had the use of the program for all that intermediate time. That's true, but the argument breaks down when the delay in purchase was only a day or a week or a month!!! >I will add my voice to all the others. I would very much appreciate a SP7 >for P99SE with sensitivity to all the requests made by the many users on >this forum. I support that. The pain of providing it could be reduced for Altium by restricting it to a specific list of true bugs, or maybe a few easy feature enhancements, and this could be discussed with users for some time, perhaps even *negotiated*, i.e., "well, we can't do that, it is too difficult, we'd have to divert too much programming labor, but how about ****?". It is not fair to insist on indefinite support of a version, but mission-critical aspects of the program should arguably be bug-free by the time ongoing fixes are dropped. And it should never crash from its own internal workings, which can lead to substantial loss of data. Or only very rarely. By now we, as users, should be able to identify *all* areas that Altium might be expected to fix. > I am able to use P99SE and function with it quite proficiently, >but like others, I can see room for improvements, and a need to stamp out >the bugs. After reviewing DXP and following the comments of other users, it >is clear that DXP (at least for me) is an unworkable solution. So far. I fully expect it to become the upgrade to have, however. So how do we help keep Altium cash-happy until DXP is fully ready? Since Protel provided free service packs for quite a while for P99SE, perhaps a one-time charge for SP7, fully applicable to upgrade later, would receive user support. To at least toss a bone to those who say that "all bug fixes should be free forever" -- which they aren't going to get -- perhaps a few feature enhancements might be tossed in. I think those of us who realize that there ain't no such thing as a free lunch would think of such an upgrade fee as a fair investment in the improvement of the product, both immediately through the service pack and in the long run through DXP. > I am not >interesting in relearning the software all over again, and finding it more >cumbersome to perform the same tasks I did easily in 99SE. My concern as well. Again, I'm quite confident that Altium will deal with this issue, it should not be terribly difficult, I'm a little mystified as to why they proceeded as they did. At one time there was talk of a substantial user board, under non-disclosure agreement, which would be consulted by Altium and which would advise Altium as to what users want. I also think that the DXP prerelease list should have been actively consulted: "Do you think this product is ready for release? If not, why not?" > I just want to >see the product, that I have spent so much time trying to master, continuing >to improve in functional development and stability. This does not require a >complete revamping of the user interface, and a complicating of well known >practices and procedures. > >Again, many thanks to Altium, for this encouraging press release. So glad to >know you have considered your customers ! 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