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Microrim's four-month upgrade cycle.

How often should upgrades appear? That's always been a thorny problem: Some users get annoyed if a developer doesn't immediately deliver state-of-the-art features, while others complain about the hassles of converting too often to a new version. Microrim president Jack Noonan says his company has come up with an ingenious solution--a four month upgrade cycle that lets users themselves decide when to migrate to a new version. So far, Noonan says, the feedback we've gotten from our customers is that they love it."

Noonan explains that the Microrim plan--called Upgrade Express--is essentially a maintenance program for R:base 3.1, Microrim's relational database product. For $129, R:base users are guaranteed delivery of three upgrades per year, each of which includes a combination of new features and bug fixes. Alternatively, users can choose to skip several upgrades and then catch up by paying $99 for the current version.

A key part of the program, Noonan points out, is that Microim has made a commitment to ship upgrades on a firm schedule, so that users aren't left in the dark about when new versions are likely to appear. Besides helping customers budget for upgrades, Noonan says the four-month schedule has been "a real focusing tool" for the company's programmers. "Yould be surprised what developers can do to keep a project on track when they know that's all the time they have."

Another side benefit of Microrim's four-month cycle, he adds, is that "we don't have to swap product out of the channel." Incremental upgrades aren't distinguished with new packaging or coding; instead, Microrim sends out a free copy of the current version as soon as the customer registers--"no matter how dusty the original box on the shelf was."

Noonan also insists Microrim's four-month upgrade cycle isn't just a fancy way of describing routine maintenance releases. Although he expects R:base will undergo a complete face lift of its documentation every 18-24 months, Noonan says the core product has been redesigned for continuous evolution rather than quantum leaps" to a new version. We don't see anything that will happen to the product that we can't fit into our Upgrade Express schedule."
COPYRIGHT 1991 Soft-letter
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Upgrade Express plan provides R:base users with three upgrades per year for $129
Date:Mar 7, 1991
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