When are free upgrades over?

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I was one of the original purchasers of a 6500 who waited over a year for delivery.  With all the discussions and different versions of S/W that have come out in the last couple of years I’m not sure exactly what will be my last S/W version included in the original purchase.   Is there an actual version number I need to keep track of (like anything less than 2.000) or is a date of purchase cutoff? 

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Nick

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Posted 3 years ago

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David

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FlexRadio has said there will be a cost for major release upgrades (1.x to 2.x to 3.x, ...). If you bought the radio during the 1.x release you should get all 1.x updates. You will have to pay (yet to be stated cost) when the 2.x release is provided IF you want to upgrade to the 2.x release. You could happy with on 1.x and see not need to upgrade. It is not a force upgrade.
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George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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There was also an option for early purchasers to include updates in the 2.x family.
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K7NXT

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When I purchased my 6500+Maestro many months ago, I understood that remote access was one of the features that I was purchasing (although I knew it was not immediately available). Then I heard that this feature would be a v2.x feature, so I assume that I will get this (someday) without additional charge.

To be candid, my patience is wearing thin on this issue - because I still don't know how many more months I will have to wait before I get this feature. I travel a lot, so remote operation was the primary reason that I purchased the products in the first place. (Is there any official answer to this?)

In my mind, the most important part of the 1.x releases so far have been important bug fixes.  
Therefore, I would not characterize the 1.x releases as "free upgrades", even if new features have been included.

In the future, it might be helpful for FLEX to separate feature upgrades from maintenance releases, especially if there is a cost involved.  My belief is that there should never be a charge for correcting product defects, even if they are software "bugs". At the same time, it is perfectly reasonable to pay for optional functionality that was not part of the initial purchase. 


William, K7NXT
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Sorry to hear you picked up mistaken impression, as being an early adopter (my first 6700 delivers June 21st 2013 and is the eleventh general release radio shipped) is was very clear that WAN was a version 2.0 feature.

You descriptive of doing maintenance releases (at the major point level) on a ongoing no-fee basis is exactly what FRS said they would be doing.

What we as users do not have to do is necessarily do a major version upgrade - so if you don't want V2.x simply don't pay for it - you will still receive any lower version updates/maintenance releases that come out.  FRS did say our radios would be running for years at the major release level we decided to stay at, if we didn't want to keep progressing.

I think the separation you suggest will first happen when V2.x launches and some folk decide to stay at V1.x

I doubt if FRS themselves told you that the native remote was only weeks/months away when you bought, as if you ask them they are very candid that it isn't ready for general release, intention is it will be V2.x and they won't pout a date on it.

Between all of us, in pure speculation, I'd think Dayton 2017 could be the timeframe - but please note that is a SWAG.

You can go remote now - several ways of doing it.  I've had good luck with the W6OZY VPN via Raspberry Pi system, but it is far from integrated and I needed some help getting going.  

Patiently waiting for native remote WAN with you,

73

Steve
K9ZW
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Todd Beay

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I have been waiting for the release of 2.0 to purchase a new 6500. I don't want to incur the expense to upgrade the software immediately after buying the radio! Hope it is soon!
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Walt - KZ1F

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@George - gee, I pre-ordered mine in July 2012. I don't recall being offered that.
@William - I believe WAN was always a 2.x deliverable and there was always going to be a upgrade price for 2.x whether a one time or an annual. The last official stmt I heard was, as I recall, from Gerald where it was said, part of the purchase price was for the software and all updates to that release shipped with the radio but would not span releases. There was a period of time where there was much push-back on the thought of an annual software license.  Personally, I think they should resurrect that as $200 is an incredibly small percentage of $8500 and software people rarely, if ever, work for free and release 1 has spanned 3 years. Assuming $200/unit is the cost of continual software development that amounts to $66/yr and falling for version 1. That said, I agree with you support is not and should not be confused with the capital expense of new development. 

All that aside, there are a lot of, shall we say, less than obvious issues with what people envision 2.x, specifically WAN will seamlessly support. No matter what FRS does, it can not overcome bad networks in Days Inn or name-your-favorite-home-away-from-home. From that perspective I suspect the biggest hurtle facing them will be managing people's expectations. They cannot and cannot be expected to manage environmental things outside their control. That said, you've been on here a little over a year.. There are those of us who pre-ordered over four years ago. So, you know what convinced me to buy a Flex? I'll tell you anyway, a protracted conversation with Barry Baines, President of AMSAT who, given he also was on the road a lot, routinely remoted in to his home qth to remotely operate his Flex 5000a and rotor and amp and shack power. So if Barry could perform that function pre-2012 with a 5000a, there is nothing stopping any of us from doing it now with a 6x00.

I would suspect there will be minor overlap of 1.x and 2.x development but from what Flex has said, after 1.x comes 2.x so I'd guess it'll be a while longer. Of course, it may actually make sense that the widely rumored upcoming functionality is either the initial release of v2 or final release of v1. I believe they've already made reference to a yet-to-be-released 1.x though.
(Edited)
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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@Walt - way back then we were offered a year software subscription included, Limited Edition may have had another year included (if I remember correctly) and you could buy-up additional years at a discount in an "Advantage" program.

By Oct of 2014 the year things had changed enough that the number of years you pre-bought were translated to the number of major upgrades you had prepaid.

I'm thinking that in my case that meant I had Pre-Release and V1.x included in the radio, an included upgrade to V2.x as part of the Limited Edition program and v3.x prepaid as I paid for the an extra year (now version level) under the Advantage program as it was an offer we were given when our radios shipped.  

At least that is how I recollect it, and to be honest I am good with paying after V2.x if I have that wrong.

I think when they called you to confirm delivery of your radio that is when you could have added another version, and again if it is one of the limited edition early radios I think they included a version level (was a year back then) as well.

73

Steve
K9ZW
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Walt - KZ1F

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Huh?! Well, as I said to Gwoege, I don't recall thar. We were in the process of selling our home and purchasing this one. There were a lot of moving parts back then. As for V2, If the rumored feature is the first drop, that may well be compelling
(Edited)
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K7NXT

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Guys, thanks for the comments.  

Yes,  when I purchased the 6500+Maestro+options, I was told that the remote access feature was not going to be included until V2.0.  

But I was also told (by the person that took my order and my deposit) that the 1.X versions were preliminary releases and V2.0 would start the "production release" versions, which would include all the advertised functionality.  

Therefore, I understood that V2.0 is what I purchased with the radio.


Regards, Dr. William,  K7NXT
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Nick

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Wow, good discussion, but this is exactly my point.  With 25+ years of being a Ham this is easily the best radio I’ve ever had.  And some of the 1.XXX  upgrades have been like getting a brand new radio.  I would absolutely pay for the upgrade.  I just don’t know if that means buying anything that is 2.XXX or anything that comes out after a point in time even it if is 1.99999xxxx.  I’d also like to know if purchasing an upgrade is for all the 2.XXX versions or a time period.  Again, I’m not complaining about the radio, just trying to figure out the billing schema. 

(Edited)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Official Response
The SmartSDR software upgrade policy is published on the SmartSDR for Windows product web page under the Upgrades tab

http://www.flexradio.com/amateur-products/flex-6000-signature-series/smartsdr/#smartsdr-win-tab-6
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Mark - WS7M

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I don't personally have an issue paying a version upgrade fee.  It's really no different and most other software out there that is commercially sold.

I do personally think $199 is a bit much and the policy as stated really doesn't say how many releases within the 2.x it covers... By this I mean:

I could purchase the 2.x update but then Flex gets busy with software for the Amp and only churns out 2 or 3 releases before deciding to go to 3.x and charge another upgrade.

I release it is impossible to forecast releases but other software vendors I've worked with when charging a few have at times at least stated what features will be in the updates.

All this being said, I'll pay it.  But I think Flex will lose customers if they charge $199 and then don't produce serious upgrades for that price.

I also think $99 would be more tolerable considering how expensive the radios are.  
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Winston VK7WH

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I think $200 is a reasonable price to pay every few years for a major upgrade such as WAN, particularly when this investment in the radio willl also include the future incremental Ver 2.x releases, and as is purely optional.

Based on Flex support for Ver 1 over the two and a half years I have owned my 6700, and the fact that I will not need to buy a new radio for many years, I think the upgrade fee is a good investment.

YMMV

Best 73

Winston
(Edited)
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Al / NN4ZZ

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The "no more roadmaps" strategy could make it more difficult for some to decide if/when to purchase the V2.x updates.   We know WAN is part of V2 but we don't know much more.  If WAN is not compelling enough then it looks like you would have to wait for each subsequent release to see if there is something you want.   Or maybe you would wait until a later version (V2.3, V2.7,  etc) when there are enough of the small things you want.   

If I knew what was likely to be included in V2, and wanted some of the features/fixes I'd just go ahead and get the V2.0 release out of the gate.  And I'd be content to wait till the features I wanted came along.  But I guess that is the definition of a roadmap.

FWIW, I don't have any issue with the $200 cost.  IMHO, if the number of updates in V2 is even close to what we got in V1, it will be well worth it. 

If you weren't here in the early days here is an example of one of the V1 roadmaps.  Content and dates were not guaranteed but they did a great job in forecasting.  


Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
SSDR / DAX / CAT/ 6700 -  V 1.10.8
Win10
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Michael Coslo

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From what I understand, Flex was demonized by so many people whining about the roadmap that they dropped it. 


Because just like the free forever updates, that people seem to have a recollection of learning.  people see the charts and demand that the guess when it would happen is when it darn well better happen. 


I wonder if the other manufacturers have these issues with their software upgrades?
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Michael,
Yes, that is my understanding also. Road maps are a double edged sword, customers generally like them but there will always be some criticism when things change. And in open markets there is often a concern about telegraphing your plans to the competition. Of course that is not a concern for the minor improvements like GUI changes, or when implementing minor enhancements that were in previous software like squelch, etc.

We used to provide road maps to our internal customers where I worked. In our case they were well received even when we occassionaly missed our delivery dates and anticipated content. FRS did a good job with their estimating but decided that it was not worthwhile in the end.

The pendulum often swings back so maybe some day FRS will provide some degree of forward looking predictions again. SDR radio is different and still in the early days relatively speaking so it's difficult to compare to the traditional architectures.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
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Michael Coslo

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I think what happens with roadmaps depends on the audience. I've worked with Gannt charts, but those were all made for an audience of peers, with everyone on the same page, so to speak. And if there is anything to lose it's way quickly, it's a Gannt chart. 

But enter the age of the internet, and not everyone is on the same page, or acumen level, not everyone has the same communication skills, and some folks just like to be testy. 

For me, a roadmap wouldn't be a problem at all. then again, I came into radio from the computing and software end. 

What I am fearing is that with WAN support on the SmartSDR baked into the software, we will have people wanting to access their radios while at a sketchy hotel WiFi, or out for breakfast whith a slew of people doing their morning check of their facebook accounts. We've seen a lot of people having trouble on their LANs with wireless, heck I have to use 5G for my new laptop into my router.

So somehow people are going to have to learn that a decent signal is also needed, because I am just about certain they will all be trying to do the deed wirelessly instead of via a wired connection.
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Al

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Went to the website and read the upgrade policy but still not sure of what my Purchase Order (attached) actually says about my upgrades. However I was told (by Matt Youngblood) when I signed up (at Dayton, 2012) that I would get two Major Revision Upgrades. So I am expecting to get Version 2 and Version 3 without any additional cost. I sure hope that someone from Flex would let me know if this is true.
Al, N4AB
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Eric - KE5DTO, Official Rep

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You are correct.
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Al

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Thank You Eric its good to know that "I'm good to go".
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Al

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Went to the website and read the upgrade policy but still not sure of what my Purchase Order (attached) actually says about my upgrades. However I was told (by Matt Youngblood) when I signed up (at Dayton, 2012) that I would get two Major Revision Upgrades. So I am expecting to get Version 2 and Version 3 without any additional cost. I sure hope that someone from Flex would let me know if this is true.
Al, N4AB
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Michael Coslo

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Where does it say on the invoice that you would be getting free upgrades? Something I''m not seeing here?
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Jay / NO5J

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Maybe Matt meant to explain that v7.0.0 and v10.0.0 would be free. For you only. Won't be that long, we are on what, v1.10.8? 

  SDRgadgets

#FlexRadio IRC chat

  73, Jay - NO5J

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Al

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Hi Michael
Under the ITEM CODE column the Flex Advantage item (quantity 2 under column 1) was explained to me to be the code for the software major revisions. Matt said something about early signup Purchase Orders got one revision and Dayton signups got a second revision. Anyway I got two Flex Advantages as shown on the PO.
Al N4AB
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Kevin

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This certainly looks like two free upgrades to me. Odd it says 1 year renewal each. Maybe they anticipated annual updates back then or maybe they thought they would charge per year. 

Your FLEX-6000 radio comes with a version of software that will operate your radio as long as you want. Period.  Yes, we will continue to make improvements and fix instabilities (aka bugs) in that major version.  At some point in the future, we will release a new major version and offer it for sale.  It's up to our marketing folks and amazing engineering team to come up with exciting new features and capabilities to convince you its worth upgrading.  In the meantime, we'll work hard to make sure your existing version remains stable and functional in your shack. (Note that anyone who purchased additional years of "Flex Advantage" when they purchased their FLEX-6000 Signature Series radio will be credited for that many major software version releases.)
From https://goo.gl/PF0N50

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