What I perceive from my original reading of the announcement is that Protel / Altium is going to drop DXP and nVisage DXP (DXPnV), and replace it with a new product, Protel 2004 (P04), which will be given to all current DXP and DXPnV (collectively "DXP(nV)" ) license holders, free of charge.
That is technically correct. I'd be pretty surprised, however, if it is a totally "new product."
Although the announcement doesn't specifically say it, I feel that between the lines it is saying that all support for DXP(nV) will now cease entirely, and current DXP(nV) license holders will now be given a new product, P04, in lieu of any further support, and specifically in lieu of any further Service Packs.
Again, this is probably, in part, technically correct. There will be no more service packs for "DXP." It would be a nasty surmise, however, to assume that this meant no "further support," and no "further Service Packs."
Essentially, P04 will be a major service pack for DXP, I expect. Somewhat like SE was for P99.
Exactly how Altium will handle continued support is not clear. In the past, support has always continued through the release of the next product, with, often, a last service pack being offered for the previous product. However, in this case, instead of offering another service pack, they are offering the next product without charge. I can't see any way that this is worse than issuing a final service pack. If Altium continues the same service policy, the new upgraded -- former DXP -- users will receive all further service packs.
I'd not say that we are home free. There are indeed scenarios that would be less than satisfactory which are not inconsistent with the announcement. For example: P04 is a major overhaul, not merely an evolution, and it not only involves serious retraining, but it is buggy. And Altium announces that it is abandoning the free service model and going to a paid maintenance program, and the free upgraders don't get a free year.
I think it pretty unlikely that they will do this, and certainly there is no reason to start shouting.
What I *would* suggest is that Altium might be a little more communicative about its intentions. There was talk of having a user board, to be consulted about user desires and likely user reactions to new directions. To my knowledge, it has not been formally instituted.
In this regard, I also have a sinking feeling that since P04 is supposedly a "new" product, or shall we say a "different" product, that Protel / Altium can and will claim to have no further necessity to support any current DXP(nV) licensees beyond simply replacing DXP(nV) with P04, whether it works or not, and that they will not receive any further support without paying for it.
There is no reason to suspect this, as far as I have seen, except
honi soit qui mal y pense.
Ok, so where does that leave us now?
It firstly appears that this is Protel / Altiums way of answering all of the people in the DXP Technical Forum who have been screaming for Service Pack 3, which is long long over due, by saying that they will get a new product (P04) in lieu of any further support of DXP(nV), which will be here until the first quarter of next year ("Q1, 2004"), which realistically means the end of March (4 months away), if they do not slip the release date (and when have we not seen that happen?).
Release slippage is always a serious blow to customer relations, especially if bug fixes are involved.
However, Protel has never left its users swinging in the wind. It's the only major CAD system which allows resale of the license, and for a long time, early licenses were worth more than was originally paid for them. It is still possible for someone to get into a Protel license and then sell it for what they paid for it -- if they bought it "used" in the first place. And new licenses, from Protel, can generally be resold in the first year for roughly 75% of the full retail price.
Perhaps if Mr. Smith is so concerned about the future of Protel, he'd consider selling his DXP license now, before the impending doom that he seems to "perceive" so clearly. He could then take the money and make a down payment on something he thinks is better.
[...] The real question here is whether or not those who have already paid for DXP(nV) training will get free training on the new P04, or whether they will have to pay cold hard cash to get trained anew on P04. In other words, have they thrown their time and money away.
Sure, it's a question. I think it unlikely that P04 will be so drastically different. Each Protel release has been largely a continuation of similar philosophy. In addition, certain changes have brought complaints at first, but most commonly users come to think of the changes as an advance.
I bought in with Protel 98. I had been a Tango DOS users. I had little trouble using Protel from day 1 to do productive work. And that was before I found the user Forum.
I seriously doubt that a DXP training course will turn out to be a waste of time.
It is *expensive* to radically overhaul a program. Why would they go to so much expense just to alienate their user base? They already have two quite different electronics CAD programs (PCAD and Protel). If they were going to make major changes, it might be to bring the two streams closer together. If it is done well, it could be good for everyone.
(Some attention paid to how a user of a previous (system, version) would attempt to do things, with facilities provided for making it easy to switch, would be what it takes to do it well.)
But even that much is speculative. As I said, I'll be surprised if significant retraining is necessary.
This brings us a very very large issue which I will not digress into here, and that is whether or not all investments in learning and using DXP(nV) will have been wasted. For example, will designs done in DXP(nV), and such things as library components, be compatible with P04?
My, my. Promise made and broken in the same paragraph.
Imagine if Microsoft came out with Word 2004 and previous Word documents could not be opened. That would be a smart move, wouldn't it?
Every Protel product so far has opened the files from the previous version(s). I haven't tried to open an Autotrax file lately, but I wouldn't be surprised to find it still works. And if it didn't, I could simply take it into one of the older versions, I do not toss the CDs, and from thence into 99SE or DXP.
The only issue of substance raised by Mr. Smith is the matter of retraining, and it is entirely possible, perhaps likely, that this is also a non-issue.
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