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Re: Genera 8.0 Announcement
Date: Mon, 05 Mar 90 18:17:25 -0500
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 90 00:59 CST
From: Cohen@MCC.COM (Richard M. Cohen)
Date: 2 Mar 90 15:57:00 GMT
From: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
This letter went out in hardcopy to all customers this week. The sales
reps also received this letter. If you have questions, please address
them to your sales rep, Gary Roberts, or Johanna Rothman.
Dear Symbolics Owner,
Customers eligible for Genera 8.0 will receive distribution media, an
initial documentation set, and one extra documentation set for each
additional five covered systems at a site.
In the brouhaha the new restrictions on software distribution, perhaps
this additional policy change got overlooked. Apparently we no longer
get a set of documentation for each machine under software maintenance
Do we even get one set of release notes per machine? Do we get the
right the duplicate the documentation for the other machines under
Symbolics tried to pull a similar stunt back at Release 5, claiming that
they would only distribute one set of documentation per site. The
policy was very short-lived.
This is not a "stunt." Rather, this is a direct response to numerous
inputs from users that, in the past, we have distributed far more copies
of the manual set than were needed (or even useful).
I think you may find that this varies according to the environment in
which these machines are used. In academia, 1 set of manuals per
machine is essential, if not
insufficient. However, I can imagine that, if all of the users on a
set of machines are proficient, one set of manuals per 5 machines might
suffice. The important distinction is that extra manuals don't hurt
the user, whereas a lack of manuals does. If a user feels he/she is
getting too many manuals, send them to us
because we can always use them.
You may purchase additional copies of the manual set if you so desire.
You might also find that the older edition that was included with your
original system purchase is still useful in most cases.
You should also note that in considering this type of complaint, more
research might be required. This may be impolite of us, but users
generally will not commend you for your decision to give us 1 set of
docs per machine. I think we
expect it. So, the only people you will hear from are those who feel
they are getting too many.
You might have thought to poll a more representative subset of users
before making such a decision, especially when you make the decision
after we have already signed our contracts.
There is nothing in the standard Symbolics software maintenance contract
about the number of manuals to be delivered per new release. If your
contract reads differently, please let us know and we will be happy to honor
In fact, slug might be
such a place to ask such questions.
A survey was distributed at the last SLUG annual meeting. Your
responses to this survey were the basis for determining the new policy.
However, this suggestion assumes
that your policy is in reaction to the complaints of paper-fearing
users and not just a "stunt" to save money. I question your
implication that this policy is truly intended to be in the interest of the user.
Our decision was based on what seemed to be the right number for
the "average" user. There are certainly sites where more manuals would
be useful. However, making our basic policy cover these sites would
result in cutting back somewhere else, and reducing services to other
Please recognize that all of our operating expenses come out of the same
pool of funds, as is true for any corporation. The new documentation
policy will save over $100K a year. This is money that in the future
will be applied to better alternatives, such as improved software
In all honesty, won't this money be used to avoid or minimize fiscal losses?
There is no difference between "avoiding losses" and cutting back on
services. Symbolics has no way of sustaining a continuing loss. If any
SLUG readers know how to do this, please tell us! :)
It is our policy to encourage users to duplicate documentation for their
own internal purposes, if they so wish.
When I buy any machine, be it a PC or a Lisp Machine or whatever, I
assume that all of the documentation will come with that machine, in a
physical form. The cost of providing documentation should be built in
to the cost of the machine. However, you are now telling us that we
are penalized for buying more than one machine at a time, i.e. by
owning 5 lispm's, we get less bang/$ than someone with 1 lispm. Would
it help if we put ownership of our machines in 5 different names?
Isn't this silly? Shouldn't we get perks for owning multiple lispm's, not
I think there are a couple of points that need to be clarified:
1. We provide one copy of documentation with the original purchase of
each system, and plan to continue this policy. The policy we are talking
about here applies to software maintenance contracts, not system
2. We are not penalizing you for buying more than one system. All
customers pay substantially less for software maintenance on additional
systems at their site beyond the first one. You are still getting
substantially more bang/$ for having more systems. We would be happy to
send you an additional manual set for each system if you put ownership
in five differnt names-- this would be a very good deal for Symbolics! :)
3. FYI: the annual Genera software subscription fee on "additional
systems" beyond the first at a site is $540 (commercial pricing). For
academic institutions such as yourself, this price is discounted,
substantially, to $297. The cost to Symbolics (not the price we sell it
at) of your manual set is about $250. This is computed as the total
cost of the press run divided by the number of manuals printed, and does
not account for the time and effort we invested in rewriting them. We
are providing a completely new manual set with your update. It seems to
me that you are still getting a pretty fair deal.
In summary, I find this policy *extremely* hard for Symbolics to defend
from any direction, and I would *love* to hear from someone (other than
stockholders who are not users) who supports and can justify this policy.
-- David Magerman, University of Pennsylvania LINC Laboratory
*** These opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinions of anyone else. ***