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As the manager of a site that has had software and hardware support for years,
let me say that I have been happy with the recent responses I have had from
software support.  

While I wish that bug fixing were included with the purchase of the
software or at least with the "subscription" service, I can understand
that Symbolics may make more money if it charges for it.  I have to say
that there have been few substantial bug fixes that we have gotten in
the past year or so as a result of the Contract Support Service.
Perhaps we will wish to consider going to Software Subscription Service
only.  I hope that Symbolics does distinguish between the two in how it
allocates expenses.  The subscription service should be charged for bug
fixing (and a part of software advances) while Contract Support should
be charged with hand-holding and responding to mail and phone calls.
(The Subscription Service does cost about 50-75% of the Contract Support

As an aside, suppose customer A on Contract Support Service has a problem
which is resolved by Customer Support.  Then customer B who is not on
Contract Support Service asks for a solution to the same or a similar problem.
Is it fair/legal for customer A to provide support to customer B?
[Please note:  I am not asking for a formal opinion from Symbolics on this.
My question is mainly directed to SLUG recipients although I would appreciate
unofficial opinions from Symbolics personnel.  I would suggest any
unofficial opinions from Symbolics personnel be directed to me only and not
to the whole list!]

Of course, customer B can not count on all his problems already being
solved.  But if customer A is one of those people who answers questions
on SLUG, his answer may depend upon his already being helped by Customer
Support.  Since I may be in the position of being customer A, I would
appreciate opinions.

Scenario:  I have a problem and ask Customer Support for help.  They
provide it to me.  Then I decide it may be a generic problem that other
people will run into and broadcast the answer to SLUG.  I couldn't do
that with code (but I could send code directly to those sites with PLAs
(as I understand the situation)) but I could do it with methodology or
suggestions on how to change the code.

Modification to scenario:  I broadcast my problem as well as sending it
in to Customer Support.  There are public discussions of it (as other
people have the same problem), perhaps with some suggested
solutions/work-arounds.  Now Customer Support responds with the best
solution (perhaps pointing out why the public suggestions aren't right
or don't work).  What do I do then?

P.S.  My understanding of SUN software maintenance pricing is that our costs
would be about the same for the same number of SUN machines (including maint. on
Lisp and SPE).  However, SRI is one of the larger SUN sites and so actually
has much cheaper software maintenance.  We do have 38 Symbolics's so we do
have a fair sized Symbolics site also.

Oh yes -- we do have similar gripes about SUN not putting in fixes to bugs
until a year or so later.