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RE: Staad 2007

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Pedro,
 
Many software companies are going or have gone to a subscription based update based model rather than the traditional "pay for major upgrade" based models.  And it is NOT just companies that do structural software (although, I see it on a much more regular basis for more "specialized" software, such as structural software and CADD software, that would be used in design offices).  Even Microsoft has talked about doing it (they have not had the guts to pull the trigger on it yet) for programs like Office.
 
The software companies like the subscriptions based model because it provides a more uniform revenue stream to them.  Many times it might theoretically ultimately cost you the same amount of money as if you always paid for the major upgrades, but instead you pay it over a more even time frame...i.e. pay a little each year instead of a lot every several years when they put out major upgrade.  Now, some companies will actually "sneak in" an increase in the upgrade price (i.e. if you compared always upgrading under the old system vs. the new system, the new system would cost more), but many do not.  None the less, it can result in what might be an effective increase since you kind of HAVE to keep paying, where as under the old system you could skip some major upgrades (and thus not sell out some money).  Under the new system, you cannot effectively skip upgrades...even if you skip an upgrade (i.e. don't pay the subscription cost for a while), if you want to re-start the subscription, many companies will generally make you pay the payments that you missed while NOT maintaining the subscription as well as current/future payments.  So, for example, if the subscription is $200 per year and you let the subscription lapse for 4 years and then you decided you wanted the new version so you re-establish the subscription, some companies would make you first pay the $800 in payments that you missed plus the $200 for the current year.  Now, some might do some sort of a discount.
 
As to whether or not the software will continue to work if you don't upgrade/pay the subscription, it will somewhat depend on how the program functions.  Most structural programs that I have encountered are "stand alone" programs...i.e. they don't require a network connection...all function run on the local computer.  In my experience, such programs will work just fine if you let the subscription lapse.  In such cases, pay the subscription fees gets you a) technical support (i.e. you have a problem or question)...generally speaking, many software companies have gone to a "pay per incident" for support...structural companies that require subscription service don't generally do a "pay per incident" support...you get "free" support in the sense that you are paying for support with the subscription; b) upgrades...they would be any major feature upgrades that happen during your paid for subscription period...some companies specifically promise that you will get at least ONE feature upgrade per year...i.e. to imply that you get something for paying your subscription fee for that year; and c) updates...this would be bug fixes and other minor updates that don't add features per se, but fix problems or errors in the program.  With structural software, the last item alone can be a HUGE thing.  Some minor bug in a program like Microsoft Word or Apple's iTunes generally will not be a huge thing...but a minor "bug" in a piece of structural software could result in WILDLY incorrect results, effectively making the software useless.  Thus, I would argue the maintaining current updates in structural software can be a thing of MAJOR importance, even if you don't need support or need/want the new features. 
 
Now, there are some software programs in general (I have yet to see this with any structural software package) that may have components that rely on a network connection and thus use some central computer/system for that function to work.  And in such cases, it can be that the central computer/system gets updates that will make it no longer work with older version of the program and thus "force" you to upgrade to a current version to get access to those features.  A good example of that is the program Quicken.  They have certain features/functions in Quicken that make use of online systems.  And as those online systems get updates and changed, they will not longer work with older versions of Quicken...and you end up having to upgrade to a current version of Quicken _IF_ you want to use THOSE features (many of the other "main" features will work just fine).  As I said, I am not aware of any structural design software that does such things, so it is not an issue to my knowledge with structural software.
 
The point is that not paying the subscription generally will NOT "break" the version that you have if you decide to not renew the subscription.  It will purely mean that you will have no support and no updates/upgrades...until you renew the subscription.  You will want to check their subscription policy...if they require you to pay all missed payments if you ever renew the subscription, then there is ZERO benefit to stopping the subscription...unless you never, ever renew it.  I will note that most, if not all, structural programs have gone to a subscription based model.  Both structural software packages that I use (RISA-3D and TEDDs) use subscription based services.  Personally, I would say the _IF_ the program is a program that you like, then you are likely well advised to pay the subscription based service so that at a minimum you get the bug updates/fixes...even if you don't care for the new features or generally need support.  While it is a pain to have to continue to pay, just look at it as a cost of doing business.  It is not much different than constantly having to go out and buy more paper and pencils.
 
Regards,
 
Scott
Adrian, MI
-----Original Message-----
From: Pedro Khouri [mailto:pedrokhouri(--nospam--at)yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 2:05 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Cc: INTLSTONE(--nospam--at)aol.com
Subject: Staad 2007

We are a small Engineering company in need of a 3D analysis and design program, we have a old version of STAAD.PRO 2001and are considering upgrading to 2007, however we are getting concerns with the new subscription type copy protection (Bentley SELECT Program) as, due to our need, we do to upgrade that often. Our main concern is what happens after the year agreement end? Does the software stop working? The sale lady from Bentley says it will continue working but will not get the upgrades, however my partner doest not trust salespersons.

 

Are there other options for 3D analysis and design software for small Engineering firm? We are getting and “Special Discount: to upgrade for lest than what it will cost to buy from the competition in addition that I am familiar with STADD.

 

Thanks,

 

Pedro Khouri