* The Business of Software

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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

How right is it to stay firm that upgrades should be paid for?

I sell a software product that is nearly ten years old.

For most of its life, I made about 10 new releases a year and the functionality has slowly grown over the last decade.

In the last couple of years, the updates I make to the software have really slowed down. I added two new areas of functionality (one medium and one tiny) and about 5 - 10 fixes for clients with troublesome data in the past two years.

Due to problems with early releases of Windows 7 and 8, I had to rebuild with software with later versions of Visual Studio just to keep the software working. However it looks like more mature releases of Windows 7 and 8 can run old versions of my software okay now.

One customer (who incidentally bought a copy in a sale) updated to a new version of the software four years after his original purchase.

He insisted again and again on having a free upgrade. He completely ignored my argument that software maintenance costs money and no software company can afford to give updates 4 years after the original purchase.

In the end I caved in and gave him a free upgrade. It looks like he works for a sizable company which owns dozens of businesses. The cost of the upgrade is about the price of a meal for one in chain restaurant.

My question is that is it right to insist that customers pay for upgrades.

The last time I looked my only competitor now charges for his software at a yearly rate and offers no permanent registration keys.
AnonForNow Send private email
Thursday, October 01, 2015
 
 
I forget to say, I caved in because I didn't think the argument or bad feeling was worth it and that some customers probably won't use the new features anyway!
AnonForNow Send private email
Thursday, October 01, 2015
 
 
I'm on your side with this.
Scott Send private email
Thursday, October 01, 2015
 
 
We do minor upgrades for free, but major upgrades require either a new purchase, or an active maintenance contract.  Over the years, maintenance contracts have turned into more than 30% of revenue and it keeps growing every year.

So I wouldn't have caved unless there was a serious bug keeping the customer from using the product, and it was easier to upgrade them than fix the bug in the older version.
Doug Send private email
Thursday, October 01, 2015
 
 
I hope they realise that your caving was a one-off occurrence and they don't expect it in future.  Did you explain that to them?  If not, give them an inch and they'll take a mile...
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, October 02, 2015
 
 
>He completely ignored my argument

I don't argue with my customers. I have a policy that I think is fair and I stick to it. I might make the occasional exception, but that is at my discretion and not based on nagging or bullying from the customer.
Andy Brice Send private email
Friday, October 02, 2015
 
 
I always charge for upgrades.  I'm in business to make money.

As Andy said, you should define your upgrade "Policy".  Write it down, put it on your website and then stick to it.
TomTomAgain Send private email
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
 
 

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