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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

enduser query-ISV relationship VG, now have problem-how rectify?

I have a piece of software I purchased over 2 years ago, maintained by a private developer & his team (ISV). It appears that he has no stated policy in any form about discontinued support for my version, which is a few changes behind the newest major release (8.xx)

Our working relationship had been a good one. I had been asked to be a beta tester, had made many contributions/suggestions of which quite a number had been implemented. Given this, he had personally requested a testimonial for his site. I had provided this unpaid testimonial as copyright, meaning for his site & his site only, but he had deliberately ignored this & had posted it on many other sites. I said nothing about this.

Besides this, during the past two years, his service & our correspondence had been good & responsive--until now.

He has been very dismissive of both myself & the problem in our very recent communication. He has stated that he no longer deals with this version. In fact, he had implied that any further service would be obtained only by purchase of an upgrade.

From what I can determine, nowhere--on his site, his marketing communications, or in personal communications--has he stated clearly & unambiguously that he no longer supports my version (the latter half of the 7.xx series).

I need to know how I can get this situation resolved.

Complicating this is the fact that he indicates that he lives & works in Western Europe but I am as yet unable to determine if this is true or not.

Any suggestions?
AcrossThePond Send private email
Monday, May 20, 2013
Depending on the price of the software I would say simply buy an update to the newest version.

It's normal and (in my opinion) perfectly resonable that software vendors (big or small) discontinue support for older releases.
Daniel Herken Send private email
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Have you tried gently reminding him of how helpful you have been to him, explaining that you understand his reluctance to support an older version of his software, but that perhaps he might make an exception in your case?

It seems as though he's doing nothing explicitly wrong in refusing to provide support for an old version, but it does sound like the height of rudeness to refuse support for an exceptionally helpful customer.  Perhaps times are hard for him?

(If it were me, on the face of what you're saying, I'd be giving you a free upgrade to the latest version and then providing support for that.)
Richie Hindle Send private email
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
You cannot force this person to do what you want, no matter how hard done by you feel. However, you might try a non-combative approach, where you ask for help.

For perspective, even though you paint yourself as a helpful customer, it also seems from what you say that you have received considerable value from the product. In this case, why would you refuse to upgrade to the latest version? As others have noted, it is both reasonable and expected for software vendors to support only recent versions of their products.

I have no opinion on who is "right" here, but simply offer a free opinion.
Scorpio Send private email
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The developer's reasons are simple: supporting an outdated version takes almost as much efforts as building a new one, while bringing in ZERO revenue.

Please try and understand that.

All the developer is trying to tell you is "I'm bleeding hours & money here, help me! Please upgrade!".

The upgrade conditions could be negotiated. Given your past help, you may ask for a free upgrade or a significant discount.

It is the developer's mistake that the EOL policy is not stated clearly, but then he's a small guy, and it is easy to overlook it or just lack a time to write one.
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I'm with Vlad the impaler here.

I've given free upgrades when people have problems with older versions simply because it costs me more to support the old version. It has not yet come back to bite me in "need moar free upgrades" but I'm sure the cheapies will do that at one point.
Bring back anon Send private email
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
It would be helpful to know what amounts we are talking about here; in terms of how much you paid for the software originally and how much the new version costs.

Also, when you say you want to resolve the problem, what kind of resolution are you seeking ? A free upgrade ? The bug fixed ? An inside line to news on future development ?

I can see from your side, you have been helpful, made useful suggestions, supplied a testimonial.

From his side, he could be thinking he implemented all those special features that either a) you asked for (no one else asked for them) or b) he was planning to do them anyway; the bug you want fixed was designed out in the latest major version many months ago; your bug reports are vague and don't describe reproducible conditions; you're not such a good customer because you didn't upgrade after a very long time.

It's a bit rude of him to use your testimonial on other sites when you specifically asked him not to. On the other hand, why did you impose restrictions on its usage ? If you're willing to say that you found "SwabbleBuilder 7.0 very useful", why can that only be quoted in one place ?

Do many ISVs support non-current software (especially if they stopped selling it) ?

Just trying to see both sides of things.
koan Send private email
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I think the OP should clarify what he is asking.

It's not clear to me why the OP has a grievance at all here, or if he does what exactly that grievance is or what he expects to happen.

He seems to be upset there is no "end of life policy", and feels entitled to... something?

As has been stated he has an older version and there is a new version out. Is it that he wants bugs fixed in the old version which have been fixed in the new version?

As far as EOL policies, Microsoft has these, and I have noticed that big web services like Google and Yahoo will tell you that they are going to discontinue something when they decide to cancel it. But they don't promise to continue it forever. Since when is it an entitlement? For example with Apple, one of the largest tech companies around, I've never seen an EOL policy at all. There are some that have been implied based on past behavior - such as that they drop all support for current version -2 of the operating system. But that's never been a written promise, or even explicit statement, just that anything you own from Apple more than 2 years old you probably can't count on any support.
Scott Send private email
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
BTW, on the issue of customers with the sort of attitude, "I gave him helpful suggestions which he implemented, and I didn't even receive pay for this.", 90% of those cases the customer is nagging incessantly about a pet feature of use to them only. In rare cases where there is an established relationship with the customer this pet feature might get added, but begrudgingly. In general I do not like receiving feedback and feature requests. There has never been a single useful suggestion made that wasn't already one I had myself put on the feature list. Of the ones I don't put on the list myself, they are either useless, badly thought out, or of use to one person only.

So an alternative, and reasonable interpretation is that the developer spent a lot of time adding features specifically for this customer, which would have better been spent on other things, and now the customer amazingly feels the developer owes HIM something instead of the other way around.
Scott Send private email
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
What the OP is complaining about is that he gave the vendor something of significant value - an independently written positive testimonial, which the vendor splashed all over creation even against the customer's wishes - and the vendor is now being a dick about doing a favor in reciprocation.

The vendor sounds like a rude selfish asshole.  But I agree that the OP can't do a thing about this. You can't demand manners.
WannabeTycoon Send private email
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I support old versions but do not offer bug fixes or feature enhancements to them.  In almost every case my answer to users of old versions is "here's an upgrade coupon, please upgrade to the latest version".  Almost all of them upgrade without question.
Cowardly Poster Send private email
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
> The vendor sounds like a rude selfish asshole.

I believe this is a simplification of a complex situation with conflicting and pretty real monetary interests. o_O
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Thanks very much all for comments & insight. I have noted all comments & suggestions carefully, & wish to present a summary of these, along with my clarifications where necessary.

The chief suggestions were:

a) try & negotiate/negotiate for free upgrade or significant discount
b) upgrade (without negotiation)

Things I learned:

c) about the process of software development & relevant issue (s) eg. end of life policy
d) more indirectly, divergent developer views re. customer service

I needed to clarify what I sought:

e) older version bug fixed?
f) free upgrade?


My impetus was for a bug fix in the old version. We had been involved with other issues concerning that function a while ago, & it seemed that another related issue had recently arisen—the function had not been any trouble for quite some time. It was the recent issue that prompted me to contact him again. It was his attitude mentioned above, that he would not do it, that brought me here.

There is a certain sensitivity on the matter of the testimonial, without possibly implicating myself, & the possibility of the actual developer being part of this community.


I will look at the negotiate/ don’t negotiate suggestions more closely

>Things I learned

Essentially, that it is normal for developers to not support older versions/only recent versions. That ‘End of Life’ policies, wherein the customer is informed about the discontinuation of support of particular versions, are not automatically issued.

The developer views towards me ranged from matter of fact, to polite & accommodating, to seeking to explain & educate, to wariness, & given my particular circumstances, perceiving me as possessed of an attitude of entitlement (!). As to the last, I am perplexed as to why this view actually arose.

All views have been very helpful, & I am unsure of what experiences that you have with customers generally, but I felt that the effort to explain & educate, in reasonable detail, certainly struck a chord with me; it is one of the things that I was seeking. These things can be a bit tricky, as pointed out.

Thanks very much again.
AcrossThePond Send private email
Monday, June 03, 2013

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