I’ve been working in the field of adaptive technology since 1998, and over that time I’ve seen many software upgrades.
There are many reasons why upgrades are released. A common reason is that Microsoft will issue a new version of Windows. Since Windows is the operating system on most of our computers, it then is a necessity to have the software upgrade so that your program will work properly with the new version of Windows. A more frequent reason for software upgrades occurs when bug fixes and program enhancements are added to a program in between major Windows updates.
All of this begs a few questions. First and foremost, should you upgrade your software? Are the upgrades worth the price after you’ve already bought the program? Why should you upgrade anything, if everything is already working well? These are all valid and important questions to consider, especially if you find that things are currently working well and your budget doesn’t support extra expenses, like a software upgrade.
Many visually impaired computer users utilize adaptive software in some way. They also pay a lot of money for that software and for someone to set it up, if necessary. When it comes time for an upgrade, they then have to pay again for the upgrade and any assistance reconfiguring the setup, to ensure things continue to run smoothly. In most cases, several versions of a program can be released year after year, forcing the customer to pay for each subsequent version.
When it comes time for a new computer, even if a person already owns an adaptive software program, they have to pay for the versions of a program they never used–as if they’re starting from scratch all over again. This continues to happen and the companies get away with charging these prices.
This is a truly unfair practice. Shouldn’t the fact that a customer has purchased a product be seen by the software companies as a positive thing, and shouldn’t these companies value our business enough to say, “Thank you for purchasing our program. As a token of our appreciation, we will make sure your software is upgraded free of charge”?
Also, if a customer does their homework and reads the feature list for an upcoming upgrade and, subsequently, they decide that the new upgrade has nothing to offer to them, why should they be charged more money if they skip a version or two of a program? As a person who has to use this software, I feel it is wrong to be charged for upgrades in this way and I wonder why this has gone on for so long.
At this point, with all of the advances with VoiceOver–which is included with many Apple devices–and the free NVDA screen reader, these companies need to wake up and realize that if they keep treating their customers like this, they may soon be without customers altogether.
What are your thoughts on this issue?