Maintenance Subscription Support Program FAQ
Posted by Jason Poitras on 06 February 2008 02:20 PM
In 2008 MicroSurvey introduced a new way of licensing our software and an improved way of providing patches, updates and new features to our customers. We have been very pleased with the results of this change as it provides our customers with a stable, flexible method of licensing software and an easy method for managing software updates and/or version changes. This article will help answer most of your questions related to our Maintenance Subscription Support Program (MSSP).
Q) How does the MSSP benefit my company?
A) Those of our customers who are on a MSSP plan are guaranteed to get bug fixes, new features, new releases and phone and web support from our support department. In addition, we offer a substantial discount on the cost of online training to customers who have a current MSSP plan.
Q) Why should I have to pay for bug fixes, why don't you post patches for free.
A) In the past this is what we did. We kept new features for upgrades, and released bug fixes in service packs. Trying to maintain software projects so that bugs and new features were separate was very difficult to manage and sometimes led to even more bugs! The extra maintenance involved took a lot of extra effort on our part and part of this extra cost was passed on to you in the overall cost of an upgrade.
Overall, it is much easier and safer to work with one code stream that includes bug fixes and new features and just release it when it is ready. This method allows us to incur less overall operating cost which allows us to pass this savings on to you.
Another thing to consider is that many bug fixes are dependent on other components or "chunks" of code that might have new features in them. In the past, fixes for these types of bugs could not be released, because new features were always saved for upgrades.
From time to time we will release "free" updates for important bug fixes and this will be done by only incrementing the third number in the product version. There is a description of how this works below.
Q) How is my MSSP plan and USB License Key related to one another?
A) When you purchase our software (new license or upgrade), we add a record in our license database. The record contains the serial number of the key, the name of the company who owns the key, what product and how many licenses the key is allowed to run, and also includes the end date for the MSSP plan. Also stored in the same database are the dates of each build we release to the public. For example MicroSurvey CAD 2008 (8.0.0) was released on October 3, 2007, SP1 (8.1.0) was released on December 17, 2008 and SP1.1 (8.1.1) was released on January 19, 2008. These version numbers and dates are stored in our database.
When you run the license manager on your computer, it contacts our license database. The first thing that happens is based on the USB key's serial number, we look up and find the record that matches your serial number. This record will contain the end date for your MSSP plan which we then use to determine what product version you are allowed to run. The last version released before your end date is what you are entitled to run with your key.
Let's assume you bought 1 MicroSurvey CAD 2008 Premium license and your MSSP plan expires on January 15, 2008. Using what you've learned so far if you ran the license manager, let's say on November 1, 2007, your key would be activated to run 8.0.0 because that was the current version at that time. If you later downloaded SP1 and updated your key on January 2, 2008 your key would be updated to run 8.1.0 because that was the current version.
Q) How exactly does MicroSurvey use product version numbers?
A) Product versions are always denoted by three numbers separated by decimals and take on the format of major release.minor release.build; for example 8.0.0 or 8.1.1. The first number will always denote the year the product was released and all service packs will be denoted as the second number. Minor additions to service pack releases will be denoted as the third number.
An important thing to note is that the third number isn't used by our license system, meaning that as far as our licensing system is concerned an 8.1.0, or 8.1.10, or 8.1.99 are all the same service pack version. A key activated for 8.1.0 will run all three versions. For example we released an update (8.1.1) for MSCAD 2008 SP1 in early January 2008 which means that anyone who has a key activated for 8.1.0 can also run 8.1.1 because the major and minor number are the same.
Q) How can I confirm what version I'm running?
A) You can confirm what version you have installed by using one of the following methods:
Q) How can I find my MSSP end date?
A) You can type MSCAD_ABOUT at the command line which will open our about screen. Towards the bottom you will see how many days you have left in your maintenance plan.
Q) What happens if I let my MSSP plan expire?
A) You will still be able to run your software forever as long as you have your USB key. You will be able to run the license manager which will update your key with the last version that was current before your end date. You will no longer have access to our support personnel, or use of our Helpdesk ticket system. You can make use of MicroSurvey online training but will be charged the full price.
Also you will not be able to run any new service packs or new releases until you renew your MSSP plan.
Q)‚ Do I have to renew my MSSP plan immediately?‚ What happens if I wait three months before I renew it?
A)‚ No you are not required to renew your MSSP plan right away.‚ Once you're on the MSSP plan your expiry date never changes, it will expire on the same date every year.‚ If you decide to renew three months after your expiry date, your new end date will not be one year from the date you renew, it will be one year from the date your MSSP expired.‚
If you wait 14 months, you will need to purchase 2 years, which will give you all the updates for the previous 14 months, plus all updates and upgrades for the next 10 months.