Re: APCC v1.9 and one-year renewal subscriptions #APCC

Dale Ghent

I think it's not uncommon for the initial reaction to a change in software pricing model, and certainly from a single all-inclusive to some form of subscription, is one that can be described as jolting.

Paying for upgrades (note: different from updates which are things like bug fixes and small adds within a major version) is a model that has existed for a long time, just not under the banner of a subscription. Using Microsoft examples, which are a small subset of all possible examples: Windows upgrades, Office upgrades, Server upgrades ... these were all for-a-fee upgrades. You got patches for what you had, but you had to buy the upgrade. Hey, that's a subscription model if I've ever seen one. It just wasn't called that, back in the day.

I think the psychology behind these upgrades and how they're quantified by our lizard brain is why MS changed their product versioning. We didn't upgrade from Windows 3.1 to Windows 4.0; we upgraded to something psychologically different - Windows 95. Sure, I'll pay for that. It has "new product" written all over it. But paying $100 for a mere 9 more 10ths of a whole version number to get from 3.1(1) to 4.0? Ha ha you gotta be kidding.

The pay-for-upgrades scheme is equitable. It funds the development of the software in a /more reliable/ way and you're not pretending that the person who bought your software 3 major versions ago, 5 years ago, and who would benefit from the next release still funds the development that next release. The monolithic single-price, upgrades-in-perpetuity model was, I think, an unfortunately popular trend in the computing industry as a whole. Consumers latched onto it because they got a *really* good deal out of it. Upgrades forever? Sign me up!

The point is that software development has real costs and there are limits to it being a loss-leader or funded on an allowance provided by the incidental sale of some other product. At some point it has to fund itself in order to be sustainable, and some form of subscription model is a way to do that.

People might know me as an unabashed free/open source software booster. How I do my software is of course my own preference and I do it for my own reasons. But I know that if I did things in a commercial sense, a subscription model would only make sense. Maybe not for little one-off things that are more of a create-and-it-lives-forever-as-is tool, but certainly it would be the case for software that has a long term vision and roadmap.

On Aug 17, 2021, at 18:02, W Hilmo <y.groups@...> wrote:

I apologize if I caused any confusion.

To be clear, this specific model is not "keep paying or lose access".? It's "we need to be paid for our efforts, and we would prefer to make it recurring and not tied to specific major releases".

I understand this model very well, as well as many pieces of software that use it.

As it happens, I have some experience with this model as implemented by a competitor to Astro-Physics.? I recently renewed one of these subscriptions.? In my case, the couple of features that I needed turned out to be not included in the subscription.? They wanted a significant additional cost - and *another* subscription - to get them.? My response was to start migrating away from that software.

While I don't expect that kind of problem with Astro-Physics, the subscription model, in all its forms, is a slippery slope across the industry.? So often, we lose things that end up being significant by looking the other way from a bunch of small things that, taken individually, are not necessarily significant.

My response to that is to stay off the slippery slope.? I've compromised a few times before, as above, and typically regret it.

The thing that I'm wrestling with today is that I have been looking forward to these new features.? I want very much to say "Just take my money!!!", but I don't want to feel like I've sold my soul to support this model.? I honestly don't know how it's going to go...

Finally, I realize that I'm being an idealist here, and am out on the fringe.? But my life has revolved around the software industry in some way or other for nearly 40 years, so I am passionate about it.? It would be far easier for me to just take out my credit card, than to write these two responses.

With that, I don't have anything more to say about it.? My intent was to make one response and be done.? I'm only making a second response to make it clear that I have not misinterpreted the model, and that pointing out other software that uses it does not endear me to it.

On 8/17/21 2:31 PM, Bill Long wrote:
This is an important distinction as it's not like Office 365, for example, where you lose access (other than read only) if your subscription expires. Voyager uses this same model that AP is implementing, as does SkyX, and if I'm not mistaken MaximDL.?

From: <> on behalf of Roland Christen via <chris1011@...>
Sent: Tuesday, August 17, 2021 1:48 PM
To: <>
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] APCC v1.9 and one-year renewal subscriptions #APCC
You can continue to use the version that you have forever, without a subscription. All the new features that we developed took a lot of people a lot of effort over the last 2 years. As the state of the art of astronomical imaging advances, we are advancing with it. And it isn't cheap or easy keeping up with you guys. APCC Pro is now incredibly powerful and accurate, just ask George who spent 3 days last week imaging until dawn without ever turning on his guiding software. (hey George, when are you going to process those images?).

I've spent most clear nights this year working with both our 1600 and our Mach2 mounts doing imaging-testing with various scopes, and these new functions work great. Ray has worked tirelessly on developing this program and Marj and others have spent all their spare time bringing it all together. When i mean all their spare time, I mean that Marj worked all thru our vacation, and every day including Saturdays and Sundays for the last 2 years.


-----Original Message-----
From: W Hilmo <y.groups@...>
Sent: Tue, Aug 17, 2021 3:29 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] APCC v1.9 and one-year renewal subscriptions #APCC

This is a difficult response for me to write.

I've been eagerly waiting for some of the new features that are included in this release.? But I'm incredibly disappointed with the change to the business model.

Please understand that this has nothing whatsoever to do with cost.? If you put all that great work into new features, and then called it APCC Pro v2, and set a $200 upgrade cost for the major version change, I would have already purchased it by now.? I absolutely support the fact that the folks that write software should be compensated.? I, myself, have made a very good living writing software.? It's allowed me to own your fine products and to retire while I am young enough to enjoy the freedom.? As such, I am familiar with the economics of software development more than most.

My problem is that I am *very* strongly opposed to any subscription model for software that runs local to my machine.? Note that this is different than paying a subscription cost, say, for content as with a streaming service.? My feelings on this are strong enough, that there are other astronomy software packages that I will never be able to use because I will not support the model.? There are even products from the company that I used to work for, that I will never use for this reason.

Until today, I have had nothing but good feelings about all of my interactions with Astro-Physics and your products.? Now, every time that I run APCC Pro, I'm going to be reminded of this subscription model.

I am very sorry to send this response, but I have enough respect for Astro-Physics that I feel that I should make my feelings known, as it affects my position as a customer.? I do not have any expectation that you will change your model over my feedback, but I needed to get it out there.

Thanks for listening,

On 8/17/21 1:02 PM, Marj Christen wrote:
APCC v1.9 is now available for download at the following links and from the APCC Download Center of our website.

This version has several long-awaited and significant new features for APCC Pro:
• ? ? ? ? ?APCC Pro - Declination-Arc tracking algorithm. This new algorithm is an alternative to the normal all sky tracking model that APCC Pro uses.
• ? ? ? ? ?APCC Pro - APPM can use ASTAP for plate-solving.
• ? ? ? ? ?APCC Pro - APPM can use NINA for camera control.
• ? ? ? ? ?APCC Pro - For third-party satellite trackers, real-time RA/Dec can be returned using the :GRGD# command.
Complete Version History with all updates and bug fixes for APCC Standard and PRO versions:

Many thanks to Dale Ghent and Ray Gralak for working together to add NINA camera control to APCC. We know that many APCC users have been very interested in NINA to improve their workflow.
Since the introduction of APCC years ago, our website has stated that we intended to offer a subscription renewal option after the first year for approximately 20% of the price. ?Many of you have been using APCC for years without any extra charge as we added new features and refined our pointing model.? Many features were suggested by users to streamline their workflow, provide additional information or control, integrate with other complimentary software and to safeguard your system.

The time has now come for us to implement our subscription renewal program so that we can continue to develop new features that our users have requested.

If the date of your APCC license key is August 1, 2020 or later, all of the new features outlined in the version history will be activated when you install v1.9.

If the date of your APCC license key is earlier than August 1, 2020, only the bug fixes and minor updates will be activated. To activate all the new major features, you will need to purchase a one-year renewal subscription. When that process is complete, you will receive a new license that includes the renewal date.

Major points:
• ? ? ? ??Renewal is optional. Your current version of APCC will continue to operate as it always has.
• ? ? ? ??Everyone is entitled to the bug fixes and minor updates of v1.9 and all new versions going forward regardless of whether you renew your subscription or not. We encourage you to keep your software up-to-date.
• ? ? ? ? The process for obtaining the one-year subscription takes you to the DigitalRiver MyCommerce e-commerce website. It is available to you at your convenience and does not require contact with our office.
You probably have many questions about this new process. We have anticipated many of these and encourage you to visit the Order and FAQ tabs of the APCC page on our website. Please take a few moments to read that first before your posting questions here. ?

Thank you for supporting further development of APCC!!
Marj Christen

Roland Christen

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