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Thread: Dear Alpha Software: It's Time to Start Fresh

  1. #31
    "Certified" Alphaholic
    Real Name
    Cal Locklin
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    S.E. Michigan

    Default Re: Dear Alpha Software: It's Time to Start Fresh

    Quote Originally Posted by seaken64 View Post
    It makes perfect sense to me that Alpha, or any other company, should drop support for old products as they produce new, and better products.
    I believe the issue in question is, "What constitutes a better product?" If everything in your app is working fine now and you would really like that new whiz-bang feature, a new version with that new feature is a better product. If you are having problems due to bugs or other issues that the current version creates and the new version doesn't solve them, then adding a new whiz-bang feature does not make it seem like a "better product" - only the same old product with the same old problems and a new feature.

    The old browse certainly falls in the latter category so I hope the new browse will solve all the problems we've been living with for years - if not, it won't be a better product in my mind even if it looks better and is easier for Alpha to create new features in. I generally don't care about new features when the old issues never go away. I haven't allowed any data entry in browses since, I believe, A5v4. I want scrolling and editing of multiple records in browses to be fixed - as in 'rock solid' - before I will consider any browse a "better product". (No, I haven't really evaluated the new browse yet because I've been busy with production apps - but I plan to this week.)

  2. #32
    Real Name
    Shane Moore
    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    Default Re: Dear Alpha Software: It's Time to Start Fresh

    I wasn’t going to write in this thread anymore, but I cannot pass this one up.

    Name one software vendor, other than Alpha, that ABSOLUTELY abandons their old version when they release a new product. I honestly cannot think of ANY other vendor that does this. There may be a few “shareware” developers that do this, but not a serious commercial vendor.

    You cannot compare the decisions, timings, and expected survival rate of any version from Alpha Software to either Microsoft or Apple. The lifespan of M$$$$ and even Apple’s products are EXTREMELY longer than Alpha is. If your goal is to be around for MANY years, but at the same time you drop a cost on your customers on what calculates out to be ALMOST every year, then your customer’s are going to start looking for other alternatives. Especially with economy today!

    To attract NEW customers, you will have to have happy OLD customers. That’s a fact. Anyone reading these forums, blogs, or anything about the product they are looking into will often judge or even base their decisions on such, especially when it comes to a product that will cost them a lot of pretty pennies to purchase.

    I think maybe we need to define the term “old product” here. What quantifies a product as being “OLD”? What would you expect from a product that you purchase as far as timeframes are concerned, as in life expectancy of the product?

    At any rate, I would expect a product’s life span to be more than 1.3 years before the support, bug fixes, and security fixes were completely dropped.

    Let me refer you back to my original question that I addressed to Steve. Which was….

    So, you would be perfectly OK with buying a new Microsoft Operating System every year as long as it had a new feature you liked, regardless of bugs or security flaws? And you would be okay with them dropping all support, bug-fixes, security updates, and development on the previous operating systems after the new one was released?

    I strongly disagree that patching and support should be dropped when a new product is released. If that were so and every company applied that theory, we would be in a world of hurt in many ways. We’d be changing out our operating systems faster than we could get them loaded, we’d be changing out our routing & switching equipment faster than we could keep up with. Your computer would be even more obsolete before you took it home….. What your graphic card doesn’t work correctly? Well, we discontinued that product because we released a new version of it. So, we don’t support it nor will we produce the new drivers or software to conform with what you need it for.

    I would bet just based on a driver, thousands, if not more people would start to stray from that specific vendor and find a reliable alternative vendor.

    As to Alpha Four… Yes, it is… how come? I think the answer to that question will provide you some of the valid points that I have mentioned in all of my posts. However A5v1 thru v6 are no longer actively mentioned anywhere on the site. A public forum does not constitute as SUPPORT by the vendor either. By support, I mean bug fixes, security updates, and so on. If you need help programming something, then that would be a different type of support. Usually one that is charged for and not given free regardless of when the software was released or discontinued, or even not discontinued & still supported.

    Yes, Alpha has completely abandoned their support for previous versions. Versions are identified as v1, v2, v3… not by a change of Alpha Four to Alpha Five. If your theory were so, then the terms of the software agreement would allow everyone free updates to all of the releases in the past 7 years.

    20-year old stove… that’s about 18 1/2 years longer than the current life expectancy ratio of Alpha Five versions. However, at least the manufacturer of that stove supported it for 10 years, not 1.3 years. I’m not asking Alpha Five to stop development, by no means; I’m not asking for 20 years of support and patches either. However, I would expect my software to be kept current for at least 2 to 3 years at a minimum. Give me the choice to move to a version; don’t force me to do it.

    Also… if your customer’s are satisfied with your support, they usually won’t mind paying more for an item. At the same time, if a customer came in after purchasing an item from you just over a year ago and you said “NO, can’t help you, you need to buy a new one instead”. Then I would be willing to bet that that customer is now your FORMER customer. Eventually, after so many episodes of this, your name will get around as being a bad company. This of course, can work in both directions, good if you are truthful and willing to work with people; however, bad if you screw people over all the time just to achieve a sale. Nope, I don’t know you and it wasn’t a personal attack, just a general statement about “word of mouth” in the business world.

    I do agree it is the best in it’s class, but at the same time a line has to be drawn on whether or not I want to purchase a new version every year just in hopes that it’s fully working correctly. There are many products out there that can do what Alpha Five does; some more complicated, some more expensive, some not. Some may take TWO applications to achieve, but it can be achieved.

    I agree, good thread, and all the opinions a very much so valued!

  3. #33
    Real Name
    Doug Page
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Vancouver, BC Canada

    Default Re: Dear Alpha Software: It's Time to Start Fresh

    I've avoided this thread since its inception. But since you're talking about opinions, well....

    I personally chose Alpha BECAUSE it was from what I believed was a small, versatile company with an excellent product. Except for a foray by another company when Selwyn and Richard were on sabatical for a few years, it has always proved me right. The business model has been the same as far back as I can remember and I started with Alpha 4 v2. I would dearly love to have v9 but right now my company is just not in the position to do that. I don't feel abandoned - it is just my circumstances for right now. Luckily there are many talented people who are able to suggest work arounds for some of the problems I may run into so that I can continue. And as a developer of my own products, I realize that anything that I create now may not work 100% in the future. I also realize that since Alpha is still not in the multi-billion dollar business level, that they have a great crew of people working on the most recent product offerings and not spending any further dollars on what is now considered discontinued. To me, as a business man, this just makes perfect economical sense. I remember not too many years ago creating a software package that continued to develop and many versions later I was going nuts. With so many versions out there at different clients, you had to try and get your head back into code that you probably hadn't even looked at for months if not years. Didn't take too long before I adopted a plan very similar to Alphas. Lost a couple of customers (which didn't spend alot of money with me anyhow) but saved my sanity which allowed me to help out the clients, who supported me with current versions, to a much higher level. They appreciated the service that I provided because I wasn't spending (read that wasting) time trying to solve problems with old versions.

    So for me, Alphas business model has been a long running constant that I have learned to appreciate. At this point when I am stuck in v8 and no continued updates, I am still happily plugging away and getting my work done. And in the end is that not what we are all trying to do!

  4. #34
    Real Name
    Geoff Meredith
    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Default Re: Dear Alpha Software: It's Time to Start Fresh

    I have followed this thread with interest and I have always had the belief that Alpha should support the current version and previous version including bug fixes. I feel this is a must if they truly want to maximise their user base. I haven't purchased V9 purely because of the lack of support when a new version comes out. It seems to take Alpha the best part of a year to iron out many of the bugs and I'm not sure of the current status but there was a lot of bug reports around Christmas time (9 months after release). Having read the opinions given there seems to be a definite divide between the new feature junkies who can't wait for the next release and the camp of desperation who want all the current features to work and be stable. I have to say that when I first got V7 I was a new feature junkie myself and couldn't wait for V8. However after using it for some time I have defected to the stability camp.
    Personally I would like to see a stable browse, which to be fair is being worked on but we were also told that for V8. Secondly I would like Alpha to truly be able to support/use Active X modules. Whether this comes from collaboration with some of the leading firms in this area to make there software work with Alpha or Alpha to ensure that A5 is compatible with Active X components.
    Finally for them to go through all the current controls and make sure the features shown in them are appropriate and work. I have grown tired with being told that something isn't a bug it just shouldn't have had that option available.
    I guess what I'm asking for is for A5 to be tidied up a bit. As everyone has stated its a great piece of software with numerous features but it definitely needs a bit of a polish.

    Finally, to the support of older versions. Deep down I know Alpha haven't the resources or have chosen not to place the resources into this area. Well rather than just moan about I would like to offer a possible solution. I do not know how many copies of A5 are typically sold but I'm sure if everyone was offered the choice of paying $10-$20 extra for guaranteed bug support for 12 months after a new release it would be taken up. This money could be used to pay a dedicated programmer to handle bugs in the older version.

    There are lots of other things I would like but my priority is to have confidence that the features I have are stable and the options they give are valid. I would then have confidence in the knowledge that when things aren't working it is more than likely down to something I have done. That may already be the case but who knows when problems like the browse have gone so long without being solved.

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