"Like most if not all RISC OS related companies, Virtual Acorn is small. Aaron deals with the customer facing side of things - distribution, licensing, support, shows and so on; and I write the applications. That's it. Even with such a small number of staff, the income from something like VRPC after licensing, taxes, p and p, marketing, running costs etc., is nowhere near enough to support either of us. I have a full time job and VRPC is written and maintained in my rapidly dwindling spare time - evenings, weekends and holidays."
I've been using RISC OS practically since the beginning, I really know how the market has shrunk and how most RO companies are managed nowadays. I do respect that choice, but you have to realise that you're still part of a commercial business which has to have a certain standard. People involved in such companies cannot hide behind the state and psychology of the market they're representing, certainly not in your case when dealing with the much larger and professional PC and Mac markets. Still, I'm familiar with what's involved, since two friends actually do the same and work their ars*s off. It's tough, but it really doesn't help when a potential customer visits a website and notices a poorly presented software company with a decidedly dated web-design, which releases paid-for beta's. I'm sorry, but in this day and age that's just a sign something's not right. Even many websites representing FOSS projects have a more professional image, which is what commercial developments are more and more up against. When I look at MW Software's website I see an interesting business with a very appealing product, which is thoroughly documented. If I'm not mistaken, it's run by one man, who also does other work. I have a friend who solely runs a record label, produces and releases music and is one of the head programmers at a large cultural centre/club. He does occasionally have a hard time with it, but he manages and in the end it was a conscious choice.
"VRPC is not a particularly complex piece of software, but it does touch on a lot of different areas, in multiple versions of multiple operating systems, and tries to make them do many things they don't really want to do. Getting it all developed, tested and working seamlessly is not easy."
I understand that, but I can only assume others have been there and others will in the future. It's part of the choice you made when starting out the project.
"I do wish to apologise to those potential users for raising their hopes that there would be a Mac based VPRC long ago. Against Aaron's better judgement, I thought it would be good to demonstrate an early development version of a product I really believed would be completed within months. Unfortunately it wasn't stable enough, and other commitments came first, and getting from there to here has been hard work."
Thanks, I do appreciate your candour.
"Luckily we are now just about in a position to release it as a product but for various reasons, including saving endless hours ours of difficult support calls for Aaron, we'd like to release it as a beta to a select few customers who know what they're getting into, i.e. they know RISC OS and MAC OS X and are willing to help us turn it into a robust product which we are proud to sell."
With 'release it' you actually mean 'sell it', which I find rather inappropriate considering the product is simply not yet ready and cannot be properly supported. However, if people are willing to help you guys out and pay for being a beta tester, that's just wonderful. I'm sure we've all seen that before with a certain other RISC OS company. Trust me, ultimately this road is a dead-end.
"If everything goes to plan, the Intel version will hopefully available for purchase very soon. Unfortunately the PPC version doesn't run properly under Rosetta, so we won't be able to distribute beta versions to non-PPC users."
That's good news. Typically, here you name it 'distribute' beta versions, while they're simply sold to users, whereas you refer to the Intel version as becoming available for purchase. Anyway, my question remains - why, when the x86 JIT code has been extensively tested by many Windows users over the years, has the PowerPC beta version been released for sale? I think it could have been a better move to first release a dependable Intel Mac version, while the PPC version is tested in the meantime and released later. It could even be sold separately, i.e. no Universal Binary, and priced according to the amount of time and effort that went into it.
That's nice, thank you. A small tip; I think you've copied and pasted the PC story, since underneath the screenshot it reads "VirtualRPC-Adjust turns your PC into ...". Strictly speaking a Mac is a PC, but a PC is commonly recognised as something that runs Windows as standard. It's rather trivial, I know, but I figure every little polish helps. Perhaps you can update the intro / front-page of the site later, to reflect the emulator will now also run on a Mac, not just a Windows PC anymore? Frankly, the site also looks kind of cheesy (especially with the initial RISC OS 3-like Boot-up screen), but I figure that's something for later.