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Altium scraps user-pays system

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EDA developer Altium has abandoned its controversial total support (ATS) user pays system for software patches and technical support less than a year after it was first introduced.

Complaints from several key long-term customers prompted the backflip into making service packs for its products freely available to all customers.

When introduced in October 2001, the program was bundled with Protel and P-CAD new license purchases as a free 12-month trial, with the first annual ATS fee to be paid after October this year, according to Altium corporate communications co-ordinator Jessica Maxwell.

While the program has been discontinued, the company has pledged to honour in full all current ATS contracts, including full hotline support and product upgrades.

For those customers coming off contract, a range of prepaid options is available for services previously available through ATS.

“At the end of the 12 months, users will have the choice to annually prepay product upgrades and/or direct access phone support, but more importantly there will be no disadvantages for those who choose to simply wait until the next product version to decide whether they wish to upgrade,” Maxwell said.

“This is about providing freedom of choice to our customers”.

Leading Protel user group the DXP Tech Forum overflowed with praise and exuberance from Protel users within minutes of the announcement being made.

“By the simple demonstration… that Altium does listen, you have insured [sic] my loyalty to this software and this company,” Dynamic Devices senior R&D engineer Madhu Annapragada said.

“Your decision puts me in a position where I can recommend the upgrade of our Protel seats to my management,” HPM Industries R&D engineer Igor Gmitrovic added.

Earlier, both joint chief executives of Altium issued an unequivocal apology to customers regarding the introduction of ATS in October 2001.

“In our haste to generate a more predictable revenue stream, we adopted the conventional ‘pay for bug fixes’ model, so rampant in the EDA industry,” Altium founder and joint ceo Nick Martin said.

“The concept of ATS was a mistake on our part and represents an embarrassing departure from the core values of our company”.

“Withholding technology and product fixes from our customers does not fit with the spirit in which this company was founded,” Altium joint ceo Kayvan Oboudiyat continued.

“We have realised our mistake and are taking measures to correct it”.

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