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Author Topic: Upgrade cycles — How often is too often?  (Read 4531 times)

zridling

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Upgrade cycles — How often is too often?
« on: June 03, 2005, 02:10:15 AM »
We all know of a software app that is updated constantly. Not a problem. But I get pissy when a developer reduces his upgrade cycle to 10-12 months for major versions, primarily because they are seldom major upgrades, but "that time again" to make another truckload of dollars. Worse still are companies that have time-limited (often 12-month) license policies. I say major upgrades should occur every two years with everything in between being free updates. Am I wrong? Help me understand if so.

Scott

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Re: Upgrade cycles — How often is too often?
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2005, 01:46:14 AM »
I agree in general.  I often get really aggravated about this issue.  I can't stand fixed-length free-upgrade periods; it makes no sense.  So if you are a developer, and you take an extended vacation, then release an upgrade the day after my 12-month period has expired, I'm out of luck?

That's nonsense.  Upgrade eligibility should be based on version numbers, and nothing else--not time, not the name of the application, not cutesy new icons and toolbar button graphics, and not what company just bought it out and decided it's time to rake in some cash.

I can't stand when a vendor releases a major-version update, and the only changes are new, splashier colors, and a few token changes.  This happens all the time.

The sub-issue that pisses me off the most is when an application has bugs that get fixed in the updated version, but ignored in the old version.  That forces me to pay to obtain a fix to a product defect, and it puts a snarl on my face.

I wouldn't say that upgrades should occur every two years, though.  Upgrades should happen when upgrades are feasible and sensible.  How often depends on the product genre, the product itself, and on the people behind it.  If the current version of the product has significant issues, or a significant number of issues, fix them.  If you're working on a new version that does fix those issues, give people a free or seriously-reduced-cost upgrade.  And people who give up their personal time to help improve your product should always get a free update.
« Next Edit: Tomorrow at 12:13:47 AM by Scott »

tenseiken

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Re: Upgrade cycles — How often is too often?
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2005, 02:13:51 AM »
Too often is when mouser updates a program 3 times in one evening. :p

Seriously, I don't like the idea of time-limited OR version-limited licensing periods.  I think that, ideally, the developer should price the product so that he can afford to accept a one-time payment.  If that's not feasible, then version-limited is the next best thing.  But I don't mean just changing some colors around between versions--if I'm gonna pay again, the developer needs to make me WANT to pay again, just like he did the first time around.

There's probably a better way to do it than just repeating the charge.  As Scott mentioned, a reduced cost for upgrades is a good idea.  That seems pretty fair to me.  Generally speaking, the core functionality isn't going to change from version to version, so since I've already paid for that, why not just charge for the new features?  The price could vary based on how much has changed between versions.
-John

mouser

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Re: Upgrade cycles — How often is too often?
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2005, 03:52:55 AM »
i think scott and tenseiken hit it exactly on the nose.

time-limited periods of free upgrades are complete bullshit and should be outlawed.

i agree with tenseiken, ideally a program should be free upgrades for life, and thats a good way to build a good rep.

but if you make serious major improvements, then it may be reasonable to charge a small some for upgraders.
upgraders should get a minimum of 50% off upgrades, though i think 75% off would be more reasonable.

furthermore, this has to be contingent on the idea that serious bugfixes in old versions have to be fixed.  you cant verywell come out and say, our old version has this security hole, and you have to pay us to upgrade to fix it.

the bottom line has to be that if you are going to charge existing customers for an upgrade, it has to be 1) optional and 2) a real increase in functionality and 3) substantially discounted.  if it cant meet those 3 criteria then you are ripping off your customers, who should move to a company that cares more for its customers.

mouser

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Re: Upgrade cycles — How often is too often?
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2005, 03:55:53 AM »
there are really 2 issues here, right?  one is regarding charging for upgrades, and when and how.
the other is the issue where some companies release new version for publicity (but dont try to charge customers to upgrade).

the second case is not nearly as bad but it still gets annoying after a while.

some people get annoying with companies that release lots of betas..
i sympathize, but as long as they dont keep the program in beta for 6 months, it doesnt bother me.

Scott

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Re: Upgrade cycles — How often is too often?
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2005, 06:44:29 AM »
You know that some of your review winners don't meet these upgrade criteria, right?  (And that some of the same ones that shit this bed also spam their customers...)

I think free lifetime updates is a great thing from the standpoint of an end user, but I never expect them.  If I buy software, it's because I feel that what I see, now, is worth the price, now.  I don't feel entitled to the benefits of someone's labor forever.

Eternal betas are another issue, and I think it's a sign of half-assed authorship.  If you need 7,000 public betas for one major version, you're an idiot.  Software that shitty should be fixed internally before going public.  But I also think some authors keep their software in "beta" just to cover their ass.  "It screwed up?  Oh well, it is beta, remember.  Yes, I did charge you, but too bad!"
« Next Edit: Tomorrow at 12:13:47 AM by Scott »

mouser

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Re: Upgrade cycles — How often is too often?
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2005, 07:36:14 AM »
we've reported on upgrade policies in an ad hoc manner - it would probably be good if we made an effort in reviews to say clearly what the program upgrade policy is.

tenseiken

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Re: Upgrade cycles — How often is too often?
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2005, 12:13:07 PM »
I'm not completely sure about all of the others, but on the FTP server review, we did take upgrades into account on making our decision.  But that's not the deciding factor, as you pointed out, in choosing software.  The biggest question is 'do I need it enough right now to pay $x for it?'  I think the same should apply to updates--'do I need these new features enough to pay $y for them?'  Hence the whole 'pro-rating' thing in my previous post.
-John