I'm a bit of a lone ranger, in that I just about never contact a software company's tech support line. I find that it's usually faster for me to figure out the problem than to wait several days for a response that more than likely doesn't answer the question -- as happened recently with an Internet radio I bought.
(Its alarm went off every six hours, at 17 minutes after the hour. The vendor's Web site promises 48-hour response time; it took them five days, but before then I had already returned the unit. In any case, their response had no relation to the radio's problem.)
(Another story. I spent several hours yesterday trying to figure out why automatic pagination wasn't happening in my InDesign document; turns out I had to turn off the Automatic Pagination option. Would Adobe have solved the question any faster? I didn't want to pay to find out, and I had a deadline.)
Turns out SolidWorks customers are getting an upgrade that will block their ability to get upgrades. Mr Mingus quotes a letter sent to dealers:
The release of SolidWorks 2010 SP4.0 and later [in mid-April] will block the service pack installation [the only way to get bug fixes] if the customer is not on subscription at the time they attempt to apply the service pack.Deelip Menezes had quized a SolidWorks exec on this issue sometime earlier, got an unsatisfactory response (make sure you're not drinking coffee while reading it), and now SolidWorks is announcing it is making things worse for its customers. The company has become inward-looking: "What's best for us?"
It seems to me that SolidWorks execs (and marketing) have just made it a lot harder for themselves in trying to convince users to switch to the cloud, where upgrades are as inevitable as death and taxes.
SolidWorks is telling their customers to take it or leave it, bad, very bad message. More and more of my clients want to drop SolidWorks Subscription Maintenance.
SolidWorks Service Packs DO NOT provide new Features, they can't. Why? Because if you're using Service Pack 0 and I'm using Service Pack 5, we CAN'T EXCHANGE FILES!
Posted by: Devon T. Sowell | Apr 07, 2010 at 07:45 AM
Bentley do the same with MicroStation - no subscription, no patches/point updates.
Posted by: DF | Apr 07, 2010 at 08:09 AM
Service packs can and do include new features. What they don't do is include new features that change the file format.
Check out the release notes for the past several releases if you would like to see what types of additions have been made.
The real debate is if subscription service should encompass only major upgrades and technical support.
The current system also ties service pack access into the subscription service.
Some users would like an additonal option that only includes upgrades.
SolidWorks used to offer this option, but very few customers purchased only upgrades.
Posted by: John | Apr 07, 2010 at 09:29 AM
And it is the same with Siemens PLM: you need a "webscription" account to download the maintenance packs. You need to be on maintenance to get this account.
I believe that amongst the CAD giants, Autodesk may actually be the only one providing bug fixes for free.
Posted by: Norm C. | Apr 07, 2010 at 11:10 AM
@ Norm C : Autodesk is certainly not the only CAD major giving free fixes. Graphisoft has never charged for their ArchiCAD hotfixes. And recently, they distributed a hotfix for an older version which came as a pleasant surprise to many users who hadn't upgraded!
Posted by: vistasp | Apr 07, 2010 at 11:16 PM
Well sorry, but I wasn't considering Graphisoft as a CAD giant. Unless their business is in the billion$ like DS, PTC, Autodesk and Siemens PLM...
Posted by: Norm C. | Apr 08, 2010 at 10:24 AM
@ Norm C: Billion$? I guess my bar set is much lower then... ;)
BTW, my name has nothing to do with Microsoft's previous [shudder] OS.
Posted by: vistasp | Apr 08, 2010 at 07:53 PM