February 2007

  Vista compatibility and other bits
  Monday, February 19, 2007 @ 8:24PM EST by:  Kevin
I've gotten a lot of questions recently about compatibility of my programs for Windows Vista, and here is the official reply: It's going to happen, but it's going to take a little longer than I had originally anticipated.

For those of you who do not know (and for those who do who need reminding based on the aggressive tone of some messages recently sent my way) TPA Software as a whole is not some big corporation with offices and multiple employees. I am a one man show who works out of a spare room in my house with some help from various family members with administrative tasks (registration issues, tech support, etc.) to free up my time for development. With that in mind, the reason there will be a delay for Vista compatibility is because my computer does not meet the requirements for it. In short, I'll have to invest in a new computer pre installed with Windows Vista before I can start compatibility for it and from a financial standpoint it's not something I can afford right now. So unless there is someone who wants to donate a Vista installed laptop it's going to be a few months before that work can get started. Again, it will get done eventually, but it will be on my own timetable and I can offer no target dates at this time.

I should also note that the work required to make WavMan and everything else compatible with Vista will be quite a bit. With this in mind, the current versions of everything offered from TPA Software will require major updates in the form of new programs and not added compatibility to what exists right now. It's not going to be a matter of simple code changes, but rather rewrites of the programs removing compatibility for everything lower than Windows 2000 and AOL 9.0 to make room for Windows Vista and AOL 9.0 VR. This means that there will be some upgrade costs to the new programs because the reality is I cannot do all this work for free and just give it away. There have not been any major upgrades to WavMan in almost four years. In the software business this is a lifetime. So, to continue to be able to offer new versions of WavMan and the other programs and to offer minor upgrades at no cost, there has to be some continuing income generated from these programs. It's been my experience that when asking for this continued support comes, it's met with a lot of anger and complaints. Please, I would appreciate it if we could keep those to a minimum, because all that tells me is that my work and efforts are not worth continued support. The fact is, if these programs do not generate enough income to support themselves and the effort put into them, then they would not exist. It's as simple as that. I put a lot of time and effort into creating and supporting my programs and in most cases exceed a typical eight hour workday (I am an admitted workaholic) and have to support myself and my family in the process. I understand than many people feel software should be free, or that one should only have to pay for it once with unlimited updates forever, but to continue to keep these programs alive and working required support for new products. To put it into perspective, I offered the WeatherMan desktop program for free and asked for donations. Out of over 11,000 plus downloads and installations of the program, total support for the program has not yet exceeded double digits. Unfortunately, WeatherMan may never see Vista compatibility because very few people don't feel it's worth a donation to keep it going. That is how is really works in the software business.

The good news is that I've been working on the new WavMan for some time now (and is tentatively called WavMan Professional) and it is going to have more new features and goodies than you can count, plus a boatload of improvements to existing features. It's about half done and will have a very public beta test when the time is right. It's going to be a different beta test this time in that I'm going to do it "nightly builds" versus an update every few weeks. In addition I'll be posting progress to a "blog" of sorts to keep it active, informed and maybe even interactive provided we can keep the complaints and "flames" to a minimum. I tried an interactive forum some years back and it turned into a place where folks (and competitors apparently) used it as an opportunity to hurl insults and negative things to say about me, the programs and my skills as a programmer in general. We'll see, because I don't have the time to be a programmer and a moderator at the same time. :-)

In the meantime and the very near future, support for AOL 9.0 VR will be added to the existing program lineup at no charge. Providing that no software crisis emerges in the next week or so I hope to have that work completed by then. WavMan 11 is already AOL 9.0 VR ready and those waiting for Fade-It to be updated will be addressed next.

As always, I welcome your comments, suggestions and criticism (as long as it's civilized...I won't reply to flat out rudeness) at kevin@tpasoft.com. Please keep your support requests to the support request forms available at www.tpasoft.com/support as to gather all necessary information at one time.

I look forward to the beta test of the new WavMan program and am having a great time writing it. I've learned a lot of new tricks since writing WavMan 11.x and hope that the experience I've picked up along the way shows in the new programs. Check back frequently for updates regarding this and other things happening here! :-)