Most of the software companies upgrade their software to a newer version which presumably provides more feature, better functionality in addition to fixing bugs. Any user who buys the newer software seemingly benefits by buying the latest version of the software – be it the Microsoft Windows, Office or any other EDA or other software.
On the surface of it, this looks good, but newer versions of software, even though supposed to be backward compatible creates a series of issues for its users. This can be catastrophic in many case while causing inconvenience in most others. Windows Vista and Windows 8.1 played havoc with the productivity of a company where customers were forced to buy the Windows 8 even when they would have liked to stay with Windows 7. The new interface requires a learning curve and companies lose several thousand dollars in training and lost time trying to get used to the newer operating system.
The writer is a hardware design engineer and faced a number of issue related to the newer software. Many hardware will just not work with the Windows 8 even when it was supposed to be backward compatible. The writer has a USB to Serial Port cable from USB gear that worked seamlessly. But when switch was made to newer operating system, there was no driver or the one that was available just did not work.
In EDA industries, for example, the newer Allegro 16.6 files will just not work with older version, say 16.3. A firm A develops a brd file in newer version while company B has only the older 16.3 version. As a result of collaboration the company B receives the brd files from company A but can not use it because the older software will just not work. There is not a big difference in 16.6 and 16.3 and it should have been possible to save the 16.6 file as a 16.3 compatible file, but Cadence will not do it. This forces the Company A to upgrade its software costing it tens of thousands of dollars.
When Microsoft updated its Office excel, it created a new extension xlsx. More than 99% of the cases just did not need the extra features of the updated software, but it still used the newer xlsx as a default extension – the basic reason – it will force others for upgrade the Office software bringing Microsoft hundreds of millions of extra revenue.
Firms creating the software must remember that such practices can bring them extra revenue but if it regularly plays havoc with the smooth functioning of business they will eventually abandon them. The key is to balance the greed of their revenue stream
with needs of the customer.