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Personalised special offers for non-Select and Adjust users

By Chris Williams. Published: 6th Oct 2005, 20:33:28 | Permalink | Printable

Call ROL, barter a deal, then post what you were offered here

Select 3 motifRISCOS Ltd. said today that it will make a "personalised" deal with anyone who wants to upgrade to Adjust or a copy of Select 3i4. The company is ditching its myriad of discounts and sliding scale pricing in favour of a one-on-one chat, via email or phone, to negotiate a sale. Factors that will decide the final price will include how many RISC OS 4 upgrades previously purchased, Foundation and Select subscriptions, how long you've been using RISC OS, and amazingly, how polite you are.

Beyond that, ROL's new pricing scheme, which lasts until the end of the year, is a black box of mystery.

ROL hope developers and punters will upgrade en masse to RISC OS 4.39, enticing third party programmers into taking advantage of the various features and abilities provided by modern RISC OS 4 - such as the image file rendering system. ROL bosses will also be crossing their fingers that this new sweeping special offer will alleviate the company's cash flow problem, caused by Select subscribers walking out after a lack of updates and legal costs from last summer's platform in-fighting.

The developers of RISC OS 4 have also suggested that third party software programmers could design their applications to use Select features, and then inform the user that functionality which requires RISC OS 4.39 has been disabled if the user isn't using a recent version of RISC OS 4. Which, of course, includes Castle's RISC OS 5.

ROL MD Paul Middleton argued that, "everyone would be encouraged to get the latest version of the OS instead of still running RISC OS 3.X on their RiscPC, because they still rely on an 11-year old public domain application. If everyone continues to work to the lowest common denominator then the market will totally stagnate."


RISCOS Ltd. statement

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...and, of course, most developers won't use Select features if they aren't avaliable for the Iyonix.

No blame attached here - but nonetheless a fact.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 6/10/05 10:02PM
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Ah yes, these would be the Select features that require you to subscribe to Select to get access to the documentation. Given that PM's rationale for this (when I asked him at last year's SE show - [link]) was that the Select API is consistently changeable and we have now had:

a) Adjust (which certainly doesn't have a changeable API, being a ROM-based product)


b) there's been no new Select release for ages

is this going to change? If not, then what's the point? Equally, I'm fairly sure that a large number of the active developers have Iyonixes. What's the point in writing software that requires features you can't use (and thus test) on your development machine?

It is, however, nice to see ROL trying something different in order to achieve sales. Perhaps they may also like to begin to market the benefits of their products in ways other than interminable lists of "features", most of which are incomprehensible to the average user.

 is a RISC OS Userjmb on 6/10/05 10:14PM
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At least they are trying somthing different. However I beleive it would have been better to have simply come up with some new special offeres, based on the items he mentions in the press release. That way everyone knows how much they expect to pay. Perhaps an extra discount here and there for politeness!

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 6/10/05 10:35PM
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Well, 'Cash flow problems' are never good, especially in small companies. It sounds to me like its getting close to crunch time, especially with retail sales practically stalled country-wide.

Fingers crossed, this won't happen, but giving personalised discounts seems a little dubious to me.

 is a RISC OS UserJDC on 7/10/05 1:20AM
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In reply to jmb: I absolutely agree with your last paragraph. Until now I never ever found a feature list worth the trouble to read which does tell me from the end user point of view why I should go for Select. OK, in IT it is a common trick to make numbers huge so that probably is the reason for ROL offering the change logs including things like "reference to Acorn removed" or "imported into CSV". But what good do 400 changes in OS do me if 375 are internal ones not offering me real end user benefit I can see?

To ROL: I think that unless you draw up a end user list of the features you offer over RISC OS 3.x or 4.02 I'm afraid that quite a few users just continue to state that they don't really see the benefits worth the price taking into account that they have a nicely working system at hand. I don't think that asking the developers to do your job of telling users what benefits RISC OS 4.39 offers is a good idea and that kind of restrictions would have to be mentioned before selling the product and might result in the end user just not buying it. And in this context the question arises what features 4.39 offers for this to happen with no work-around available for 3.x and 4.02?

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 7/10/05 7:57AM
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Have to agree with hzn's comments to ROL. ROL basically make no effort to market the features of Select/Adjust so you have to trawl sites like Drobe or Iconbar to see what it offers. Why don't they have a section on www.riscos.com showing how nice the alpha-blended sprites look, how much better the improved !Draw/!Paint is, why having thumbnails in the filer is good thing, etc. etc.?

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 7/10/05 9:43AM
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hzn: "what good do 400 changes in OS do me if 375 are internal ones not offering me real end user benefit I can see?" Speed. Stability. Facilities for software authors to use.

The problem with an OS is that all that users 'see' can be things that are easily dismissed (rounded corners spring to mind!). I do think ROL need to make much more of explaining the improvements to the non-technical public - but accept that it's a very tough job.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 7/10/05 12:01PM
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I find the initiative of making "personalized" prices dispicable! It is discriminating and arrogant. It is one thing to determine a price based on the amount of OS upgrades one has purchased from them, an entirely different one which is based on "how many RISC OS computers you have, how long you have been a RISC OS user and most importantly how nicely you ask!"

However, the goal of encouraging RO Adjust (or Select 3i4) is commendable and a progressive one, which I fully support. To further this goal, hopefully ROL can see it within their ability to produce a nice, attractive feature-list of their products which would actually make sense to the casual user. Let's hope this can provide some cash for Mr. Middleton to finish Select 4.

By the way, why isn't there a phone number or email contact on ROL's press release?

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 7/10/05 12:26PM
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Possibly a lot of over reacting going on. My interpretation:

It reads to me like the sliding scale is still present - but this time ROL will work out what you have to pay rather than providing confusing tables with multiple prices.

This way they can negotiate grey areas (eg people who subscribed for a while but lapsed and people who still subscribe but have received nothing for a while).

hEgelia: Maybe they just need to know how many machines you have in case you are ordering ROM sets? I suspect the asking nicely bit is a joke.

I think this is a case of a well meaning, but could have been phrased a lot better press release. By eliminating one source of confusion it has added another.

Why do people always have to assume the worst?

As for me - not interested - Iyonix release please :)

 is a RISC OS Userbenc on 7/10/05 12:47PM
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In reply to jc: OK, speed and stability is fine - but: Not that I really remember any stability problems wit 3.5, 3.7 or 4.02 which makes it hard to sell... As for speed some figures (be it approximate) should be thrown in, since a 1% increase is a bit different from 25%...

As for user can 'see': There are things like CDFS with Joilet support and DHCP which are end-user relevant and probably more interesting than rounded corners.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 7/10/05 12:57PM
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I would say that I would like to see software developers actually use the new features, as this should encourage Castle to utilise them.

I have loved useing my copy of Adjust, to the extent, that I have started using my old copy of impression to create documents for work and uni on my aging machine again.

3.5 - Not very good CD support...typical OS for a new breed of machine, buggy everywhere 3.7 - Dear god, any applications actully run on this without having at least one problem? - also I seem to remember the numerouse patches to stableize / enhance the OS 4.02 - Can't say I have ever had a problem. Adjust - Never crashed on me yet (or any application I have tried), has no problem with LAN talking (even to server 2003), The best clipboard for RISC OS yet!

I say upgrade :@P if I wasn't a student, I would upgrade the various ones laying around the place.

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 7/10/05 1:42PM
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Well I have two machines, an 'Adjust' RPC and an Iyonix, so until ROL show some interest in selling me something for my Iyonix, nothing to purchase.

 is a RISC OS Userron. on 7/10/05 5:39PM
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Closing down sale, or pre-emptive asset stripping?

Going once, going twice...gone!

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 7/10/05 6:42PM
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"I would say that I would like to see software developers actually use the new features, as this should encourage Castle to utilise them."

The problem is that ROL won't tell a developer how to make use of the new features unless they're a select subscriber. So non-subscribing developers can't use them. Add in the fact that Paul M proudly describes the Select API as "a moving target", and it's no wonder that people don't use the features it provides - the implication is that code you write to the specifications of the current version of select might cause the next version to crash horribly. Things that were right will suddenly become wrong, and you might have to re-write the program for every version of select. At which point you just write code that works on every machine (from 3.7 to 4.xx to Iyonix), without using the "select features", because that way you (a) get your program to the greatest number of users and (b) spend less time dealing with untraceable bug reports.

 is a RISC OS Userchrisj on 7/10/05 7:00PM
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The fact that RISC OS 4.39 is available in ROM means that the API is no longer a 'moving target' - that argument is a now a red herring. However there have been changes to 'Select' APIs in the past - for example to usage of Wimp_Extend reason codes. IIRC this was mainly to avoid incompatibility with features implemented by Castle.

 is a RISC OS Userthesnark on 7/10/05 8:56PM
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Hang on a moment. If there is "differential" pricing I can see that as potentially irritating for end users and may infact be counterproductive. What if User A says to User B "Oh, I got my Select for 50" - "Whatttt!!! I paid 100, da*n ROL I'll never buy off them again...."

Then there's the notion that programmers will use Select features and give "error messages" to users telling them Select is required (now for users whose machines *can* be upgraded this will be mildly irritating - but for users whose machines can't be (e.g., Iyonix) it'll make them see red!). Whipping the end user to hop through ROL defined upgrade "hoops" is very Microsoftesque and IMHO illbecomes this platform.

As jmb pointed out there's the lack of documentation (an impediment to developers) then there's the lack of ubiquity (how many people have select - obviously not that many if ROL has the time to talk to people *individually*). This whole tact I am sad to say looks incompletely thought through and has an almost pathetic despiration about it.

The leading RO version is 3.7, followed by 4.0X and 5.XX that's what developers are aiming at. If RO wants them to aim at Select - then Select needs to get (a). More commonly used (b). More publically documented and (c). available on the platforms developers use rather than the ones ROL *wants* them to use.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 9/10/05 5:52PM
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to ams your last paragraph is contradicting the one above. By indvidual talks they try to sell more copies and that's your a), and a) means more people know about b).

to ams and chrisj A developer has to spent money to get the details what's so strange about that? They did buy the PRMs at a much higher price to get details about the API at that time. OK, it would be nice if it was freely available but... it isn't (just yet).

 is a RISC OS Usernico on 9/10/05 8:42PM
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nico>"your last paragraph is contradicting the one above. By individual talks they try to sell more copies and that's your a), and a) means more people know about b)."

No. Why do the two have to be linked *at all*. More people are likely to *write* for your platform if more people *know* about how to use it. More end users are likely to upgrade to your platform if more developers write for it. Consider free API documentation as *free publicity* - it helps sell your OS/Platform. It also helps programmers develope for it - which further builds demand for it.

There's nothing to stop ROL having a free (but limited) API documentation set - with a more detailed one available as a charged for purchase.

Yes the PRM's do cost (I got the PRM disk off ROL funnily enough and a printed set from CJE later) both don't cost as much as Select - and the Iyonix (for example) already has it's API documented and available to all on the Castle (www.iyonix.com) website - thus encouraging development for Iyonix *even among programmers who don't have one*. ROL IMHO don't do that so lose out on potential converts.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 9/10/05 9:26PM
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What use is documentation for Select features for a developer if he doesn't have Select to test or play with those new features ? What use does a non-Iyonix owner & developer have with the PCI/USB/Unicode FontManger documentation as he can't use this information in his programs because he's not able to test it out. It might be nice for some very simple/trivial enhancements or to satisfy the curiosity but it is not going to fuel real adoption of new Select features.

When you buy Select/Adjust, you have access to all its documentation and are as a developer ready to support those new features. Not before.

 is a RISC OS Userjoty on 9/10/05 9:45PM
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