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Re: Software maintenance (was Calculation Software)

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Paul,

And it should also be pointed out that many of the "mainstream" software
companies WANT to go to similar revenue models.  I _KNOW_ that Micro$soft
would LOVE to have people pay a yearly "maintance" fee for things like
Windoze and M$ Office.  But since 1) there support sucks in general AND
they really DON'T include any support for "free" with their products at
hardly any point (you do "pay per call" things if consumers...although
they do have other "situations" for "enterprise" installations) and 2)
they generally don't put out enough "signigicant" (i.e. feature) upgrades
on relatively short periods of time such as a year or less (at least they
don't for Windoze...but Office for PeeCees comes close to about a year
between major upgrade versions), they have a tough time getting consumer
users to accept such a revenue model.  In otherwords, they have a tougher
time "selling" the idea that paying them a couple hundreds $$ a year for
basically nothing (i.e. no support and upgrades that happen every 2 to 3
years if not more).  For any software company to go to a "maintance" fee
revenue model, they have to have "justify" the cost to the user, usually
by providing excellent support (for example RISA has done this so the
maintance for it doesn't bother me too much...and TEDDs also has good
support so the mainance fee does not bother me to much) and "significant"
upgrades (i.e. new and improved features/templates, etc) on a close to
yearly basis (for example, in the past TEDDs has certainly done that in my
opinion...RISA does a pretty decent job in this regard as well).  In this
regard, most if not all "productivity software" that I use/encounter (i.e.
word processors, spreadsheets, anti-virus, etc) does not come even close
to "justifying" such a model.  As an example, personally, Micro$oft would
be VERY hard pressed to convince me that it would be worth several hundred
$$ for a yearly maintance fee for Windoze or Office.  After all, from my
experience there support is actually rather useless if not "hostile" and
they don't offer enough "useful" (i.e. most features added to Office in
recent upgrades are not really needed on my part...I can and STILL DO use
Office 2000, even though there have been two major upgrades
since...although they have put in some useful new feature in Outlook in
recent updates) significant feature upgrades (they has not really be a
significant upgrade to Windoze since XP and there won't be anyone in the
next year or two...wanting for "Longhorn" in a couple of years).

Of course, some of it depends on how much the maintance fee is (if M$ did
something like $50 per year or so for Office or even Windoze, then it
might be more acceptable) and how "established" the software program is
(there is a limit to how many "new" useful features that most users want
that company like Micro$oft can put into a program like M$ Word).  In this
regards, it is somewhat easier for structural software programs like TEDDs
or RISA to use this model.  After all, TEDDs can just added more "premade"
templates as more "features" in each upgrade and most users will be happy;
and RISA can (and has) add more design based checks for materials that
they have not previously covered (such as R/C, cold-formed steel, wood,
new codes, etc as they have in the recent past) and most users will be
happy.

But, the point is that you are 100% correct in that all software companies
are striving/struggling to "even out" and maintain their cash flow.

Regards,

Scott
Blissfield, MI


On Fri, 9 Jul 2004, Paul Feather wrote:

> Many of the structural software vendors are switching to yearly maintenance
> agreements with upgrades included rather than support agreements and upgrade
> releases.  Personally I do not think this is such a bad thing.  We recently
> reviewed all of the software we use and selected a core group that we were
> willing to commit to continued use and support with upgrade maintenance
> agreements.
>
> On the down side, we look at several thousand dollars of yearly software
> maintenance costs.  On the upside, we can at least factor it into the budget
> and the software companies are not under as much pressure to continually
> come out with new releases that are not ready for prime time in order to
> maintain an adequate cash flow.  It takes an adjustment in thinking and
> attitude, but overall I think the shift will be a positive one.
>
> It also didn't hurt to be forced to re-evaluate our choices in analysis
> software and look to where we are trying to go for the long term.
>
>
> Paul Feather PE, SE
> pfeather(--nospam--at)SE-Solutions.net
> www.SE-Solutions.net
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Scott Maxwell" <smaxwell(--nospam--at)engin.umich.edu>
> To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
> Sent: Friday, July 09, 2004 5:49 PM
> Subject: RE: Calculation Software
>
>
> > Jason:
> >
> > Dennis is correct that they is yearly "maintance" fee for TEDDS.  Keep in
> > mind, however, that the fee is really more of a yearly "upgrade" fee.
> > They supposedly make an effort to do at least one siginificant feature
> > upgrade each year, which you then get as part of your maintance fee.
> > They have been reasonably good about doing such upgrades (I have a
> > version 7.0 upgrade CD that I have not gotten around to installing just
> > yet...going on several months now).  Since I purchased a license (about
> > three years ago) I have gone from version 5 (I believe) to version 7.  It,
> > of course, covers techinical support, which I have basically not really
> > used too much.  The only real time that I have used it was when I found a
> > template on their website for a flitch plate design, but it was for the UK
> > version, so it did not run on my US version.  Their tech support guy sent
> > me a PDF output from it so that I could see how it was done (was try to
> > figure out flitch plate design).  Otherwise, I have only had to deal with
> > them when I wanted "move" my installatio from one computer to another
> > (they use a product activation type system).
> >
> > While I have not used TEDDs extensively, I have used it some.  It worked
> > rather well when I did use it.  I used it for creating homework solutions
> > for a prestressed concrete course that I taught for a semester.  I just
> > have not "forced" myself to get in the habit of using it more often (but
> > then I am not doing too many design calculations in my current position).
> >
> > HTH,
> >
> > Scott
> > Blissfield, MI
> >
> >
> > On Fri, 9 Jul 2004, Jason W. Kilgore wrote:
> >
> > > Dennis:
> > > I haven't spotted anything about a "maintenance fee" on their web site,
> but
> > > if so this would be a disadvantage.  I don't like maintenance fees,
> because
> > > I don't tend to use technical support except for when I first use a
> product.
> > > I expect the product to be stable enough to not need tech support (yeah,
> I
> > > know, I expect too much).
> >
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