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Time Marches On!

November 16, 2012

Well, I thought that would be a cute title. The reality of a software company is that there are current products and there are old products. Sometimes things reach a point where maintenance of older products isn’t reasonable. This can impact users, so anyone in this business tries not to do this too soon.

Since April of 2009 when CD/DVD Inspector version 4 came out we moved version 3 to a status of being maintained but not receiving much attention. This has been the case since 2006 for version 2 of CD/DVD Inspector as well. But if someone had a problem with the product we would work on it. A common term for this is “functionally stablized”, meaning that new features would not be added but if there were problems they would be fixed.

Beginning January 1st 2013 we are going to take the larger step of moving older versions of CD/DVD Inspector to a status of “Obsolete”. Anything earlier than version 4 of CD/DVD Inspector will not be supported and the last build that is on the web site today will be about all there is. The current versions are:

       CD-R Inspector version 1         1.2.4, Build 372
       CD/DVD Inspector version 2       2.2.0, Build 4
       CD/DVD Inspector version 3       3.1.97
 

What does this mean for current users? If you have an old version of CD-R Inspector or CD/DVD Inspector version 2, we are going to give everyone a short time to upgrade to version 4 for a discounted price of $450. This is a 30% discount off the current price. If you have version 3 we are going to continue our $175 upgrade price until 1 March 2013. It is strongly recommended that you “get current” if you are using the law enforcement/forensic features of the product.

What if you are a customer with CD-R Inspector and are not using it for forensics but want something current? Today the CD/DVD Diagnostic product has nearly all of the features of the original CD-R Inspector product plus support for DVD and Blu-Ray discs. For $40 you can have a current, maintained product that should do everything you need.

Aside from the upgrade opportunities, what changes is this bringing to our customers? Well, I am sorry to say that if you discover a brand-new bug in one of the Inspector products that is being moved to “Obsolete” status it is unlikely that it will be fixed in that version of the product. The message will be that you need to upgrade to the latest version at whatever cost that entails. After 1 March 2013 that will be the full cost of the new product.

We are rolling out a new software assurance program to allow customers to budget better for keeping up with new versions. Previously, when a new version came out there was an upgrade cost that was variable and when a new version was available is obviously also variable. This prevented anyone from really budgeting for this upgrade purchase. What we are offering now is a yearly purchase that will not increase more than 10% a year that you can purchase every year. If you are current with your software assurance you will receive all updates and upgrades at no further cost to you. The expectation is that there will be new versions released somewhat more frequently than has been the case in the past and purchasing the software assurance will result in a savings of at least 1/3rd of the cost of the upgrade price if you are not purchasing the software assurance.

So why are we doing this to our customers? Well, for one thing our customers deserve to understand what we are prepared to do and not prepared to do if they encounter a problem with a product. We haven’t made it official previously and that could cause some problems for people. Clearly we do not have the staff resources to maintain all of the older versions of products that we have – no software company does – so we have to draw the line somewhere. With the software assurance program being implemented we think this will give customers a better way to budget for keeping their software up to date in the future. We are also mindful that many of our customers are relying on our software for information that is used in criminal cases. We want to make sure that product quality does not suffer and customers are informed about product directions.

It is important to us that our customers understand that when they buy a software product from us they are also buying into our support infrastructure. With our consumer products it means that we will do whatever we can to make sure that our products are working for them and they get their data or video back. With our forensic products it means that we will bring our expert knowledge to their problem or question and make sure that not only is the product working 100% but that the user understands what the product is telling them about the data. This is vital for our customers to be able to testify about the smallest details of optical and flash media to ensure a successful outcome.

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