Forums Historical Software Bisque Blogs Daniel R. Bisque’s Blog Please Bear With Us…Changes They Are Coming!

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    Daniel R. Bisque

    Or, this blog could also be titled: “Why TheSkyX Serious Astronomer Edition is not yet available on the Software Bisque Store”

    The answer might seem trivial, but it’s not.  True, we released TheSkyX Serious Astronomer Edition last month at Macworld.  After four days of demonstrations and discussions with the Mac community, we came away with a list of “you should really change this and this to make TheSkyX Serious better”. 

    That's one project we're currently working on.  And, TheSkyX Serious Astronomer Edition will be that much better for it.

    Concurrently, (and more importantly) in order to better serve our loyal and devoted customers, as well as the entire astronomy community, Software Bisque is finalizing a completely new web site infrastructure (specifically, we’re updating and revamping our web servers, web site, web store, web access, and more)

    Here are just a few of the benefits our new web site will offer:

    •  A secure, easy-to-use, account-based and cart-based Software Bisque Store that will immediately process your order and give immediate downloadable access to your software products.  Once this site is in place, and provided you have access to the web, if you want your Software Bisque software now, you can have it now! (No matter where you reside on the planet and no matter the time of the day or day of the week).
    •  All Software Bisque software products can optionally be purchased as either “Downloadable products only” -OR- “Downloadable+Box” products (Downloadable =  you download the software product installer; nothing “physical” like a DVD-ROM is actually shipped to you; Box = we ship the software box and media to you in addition to having downloadable access to your software).  You can save money by purchasing just the downloadable product.  If you live outside the US, you can also avoid costly import duties and shipping delays.
    • Manage Your Software Bisque Account After signing in to the Software Bisque Site (exactly as you sign into the Software Bisque Support Corner now), you can visit the My Account section to view your invoices for the new products you've purchased, along with your product serial numbers, your ship to and billing addresses,  access and download the products and updates you’ve purchased, view the “shipped” status for boxed or hardware products, and review your software subscription status*

    Other important benefits:

    • The new site uses the same “Software Bisque Support Corner-like” engine that you are already familiar with. 
    • The new Software Bisque web site uses battle tested, proven technology used by sites like My (70 million users), Intel, Visa, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, NASDAQ, MSNBC, Chevron, Dell, the NFL, and, to name a few.
    • You will be able to contribute to the Software Bisque Community by writing product reviews and add/edit content to our Wiki.
    • The Software Bisque Web Site resides at a physically and electronically secure “co-location” (web-server farm) for fast, reliable software downloads and minimal “downtime”.
    • Sign in to the Software Bisque site using the normal sign in name/password technique, or use your OpenID (a free, single digital identity that is now used by many sites to simplify the sign in process).
    • The new site brings the “social networking” aspect of the support corner to a whole new level.  Make new friends, start conversations, upload media.  Have fun!

    *Subscription-Based Access to Software Downloads/Updates

    Software Bisque software products that you purchase after our new site is on line will be “software subscription based”.  What does this mean? 

    It means when you purchase a software product from Software Bisque, in addition to the normal software license that allows you to use the software as you always have in the past and for an unlimited period of time, you also receive a one year software subscription that provides:

    • web-based access to download the full product installer
    • web-based access to download the most recent product updates (updates include bug fixes, changes, improvements, enhancements, support for new hardware, etc.) 

    After one year, in order to continue to receive the above benefits, you will be able to choose to renew your software subscription or not.  The cost of the annual software subscription will be approximately 20% of the retail price. 

    To reiterate, when you purchase a Software Bisque software product, there are no restrictions to running the software on your computer and you still have a full year’s access to full product downloads and product updates. 

    I know the million dollar question that I still have not answered is:


    Provided all the parties involved in this “significant” undertaking come through as scheduled, the best answer I can give is mid-March, 2009 Revised estimate: Early May, 2009 May 8, 2009.  

    I hope the above sheds light on what’s going on behind the scenes here at SB.  Thank you for your patience.



    I bow to no one–no one–in my respect for the Bisque products. I have used just about every astronomy program that can be put on a hard drive, and I consider what y'all do to be THE BEST, period.

    HOWSOMEEVER…I urge y'all to reconsider the “subscription” bidness. We are talkin' about a fairly consequential amount in this tough day and age…about 50 bucks a year for a “Pro” user. I can certainly understand your need to control costs, and would understand fees for anything _beyond_ downloading fixes…but not for bug fixes…which will likely continue to be issued after the software has been on the shelves for a year (just like ANY software). Charging for bug fixes would be somethin' new on the software scene as far as I know, and would not set a very nice precedent IMHO.

    What will happen if you do this? Some people won't buy, others will and will just find a way around paying for hot fixes–but they and many others will be left with a bad taste in their mouths, nonetheless, for a company which has always been not just responsive to the amateur community, but, for me, A PART OF IT.

    If, OTOH, I've misinterpreted, and the subscription bidness does not include bug fixes, in the immortal words of Miss Emily Litella:

    “Oh. Never mind.” LOL

    Uncle Rod



    The Sky 6 Pro is great software better than the others I've tried. I believe when I buy a new version there will be bugs due the programmers inability to control all the variables. I also believe that I should not have to pay to correct any bugs in software. A future version that includes new processes could include a cost increase. Years go by to fast for yearly subscription rates. Can you imagine the fees one would have had to pay since the sky 5 was first released.



    I agree. I think the subscription based update system is a big mistake and a huge step backwards for the Software Bisque.  

    I am not incline to purchase software from a company that charges their customers for “bug fixes”.  

    Under your new support scenario what reason would I have to want to purchase new versions of all my  current SB software?

    If I was inclined to, why wouldn't I just wait for 1 to 2 years after it is released so I could get a more mature bug free version that included all the updates. T hat way I wouldn't have to pay an extra 20% or more for it? Do you see the error in your logic?  

    Seems to me the early purchasers end up being beta testers that find the bugs and then that get charged for those fixes and enhancements later.

    Imagine if Apple or Microsoft pulled a stunt like did this.

    It is for this very same reason there are other software packages that I no longer use or recommend. to others.

    This is indeed a sad day. You guys where one of the good guys.



    I t's understandable that the writers of the software will improve on their products the same way in which Microsoft improve on their software, but as long as the purchaser wishes to retain their software without making an upgrade to the new improved version the the company is responsible to ensure that the customer's product is upto date for that particular version.

    But customer must take into consideration that computer software is constantly been upgraded  along with computers by some of the major  companies i.e. Mocrosoft and some of the older versions of software become no longer compatible, and there may come a time one may have o purchase a newer vesion of software.

    If a costomer has purchased The Sky version 6 say then as long as a customer wishes to stay with this software on an existing PC, then there should be no additional cost to update that software.

    I have had to repurchase software when my computer which ran Windows XP Proffesional broke down and I purchased a new computer that was installed with Windows Vista, I could not run the XP, so i had to repurchase a later version of Microsoft Office, even some of the other hardware is no longer compatible in its full capacity.

    Charles. M. Rees.



    I agree that subscription based bug fixes is a bad move, especially considering the reputation SoftwareBisque has earned!

    I don't mind paying for value as it takes a lot of work to develop a program like TheSky.  The cost should include bug fixes.  If a major update or version comes out there should be at least a limited time discount for purchase by users of previous version.

    Also an option to upgrade to a more advanced version might be a good idea.

    I am sure many users would have purchased SkyX Student when it first came out if there had been an option to upgrade rather repurchase when Serious Astronomer is ready.


    Daniel R. Bisque

    Software Bisque has (since ~1994) offered an upgrade to higher editions for the difference in price.

    See this article for details:…/366.aspx

    This offer will still be true for TheSkyX.



    I have to clarify; the subscription is not merely to obtain bug fixes.

    The subscription allows customers to download the very latest version of the software (either the full installation package or as a smaller update).  In addition, the very latest version of the software includes not only bug fixes, but also includes new features and enhancements.  

    We considered making releases ?static? by not adding any new features or enhancements and instead ?hoarding? those improvements and at some future date charging for an update.  But this has the drawback of being disconnected and less responsive to our community.  

    In contrast, the subscription model puts the community right in the middle of our development cycle and gives customer/developer an ongoing incentive to report/fix bugs respectively, and to also suggest/implement new features.

    A very important benefit of the subscription is the ability to download the full installation package – something our customers have really been asking for.  Have you ever lost your TheSky media?  Or has your media gone bad or been scratched?  With the subscription architecture, you can just download the full package at your convenience.



    I'm not opposed to the subscription idea as long as it offers end users value and/or convenience. Many CAD software developers already use this approach. One possible “sweetener” to consider for the annual subscription model would be a modified license that allows users to (legally) install the applications on a laptop or second computer.



    Well, being able to download the installation package is nice. But how many people need to do that often enough to warrant $50.00 per year?


    David Toth

    Ron and others:

    There is one company that charges a yearly fee that is higher than $50 for all downloads, whether they be bug fixes or new features … I am not making a judgment as to whether that is the correct approach or not.

    However, with all due respect, we've gotten very spoiled. I don't work for SB, although it may look like it to some, so I DO feel I can say this. CCDSoft V5 has been out for 6+ years and NO CHARGES for updates and hot (bug) fixes. TheSky6 has been out since 2005 (betas released at the Winter Star Party) and NO CHARGES either.

    The subscription fee charges are a change, but the model is changing. Customer support is an increasing cost, even though they have worked on more efficient ways to do this. Are you even aware that one programmer's FULL-TIME responsibility is customer support? That has effectively cut the development team size down. Granted, many of you/us have been kind enough to help with support here and on the SoftBisqUser and Paramount lists on Yahoo (not SB groups but in fact these are owned by private individuals who maintain them and moderate them along with me as their “humble servant”).

    We have all had our TheSky6 upgrades for $99 and have had support for 4 years now with no charge, and you cannot really believe that is a model that has any chance of remaining viable.

    Someone raised the question about effectively getting buggy software dumped on us and then being abandoned. Let us please be reasonable. The upgrade/purchase price includes 1 yr. of downloads. TheSkyX Student Edition has already been out for 1 yr. Improvements have already been made. They have been beta testing Serious Astronomer, and making ENHANCEMENTS – actually it is hard to find folks who want to beat on the beta stuff, but there are a dedicated few.

    In short, being in the Astronomy software business or any aspect of Astronomy industry is a niche position in a small market. And, we all realize that things are tight and we need to budget accordingly. As another user, I would certainly respect your feelings if you chose not to upgrade at this time. They will keep making minor bug fixes to TheSky6 for some future part of the development cycle until they retire it (as they EVENTUALLY did with TheSky 5).

    HOWEVER, I think once you look at TheSkyX you will want to consider the upgrade, especially for the Pro version. The flexibility and customizations that you can make will certainly impress you. The ability to buy just the parts you want or need will help the pocket-book too. But, if you want, you will have all the functionality of TheSky, CCDSoft camera control, TPoint, Orchestrate and observatory automation (with consulting work from present-day automation developers since the automation needs to go cross-platform for Windows, Mac, and Linux  –  the present Windows add-ons won't work on Mac and Linux), and COM hooks for Windows users if they want to continue to use their present automation programs.

    We all want everything for free. That won't happen. However, the next best is good value for a reasonable price, and that WILL happen – you know Software Bisque, and they have a good track record of treating their customers fairly and honestly. You may not always love the answer, but you know they ARE listening.


    Dr. Dave



    I would agree with Uncle Rod about paying for bug fixes.  Stating that the “…subscription allows customers to download the very latest version…” and putting the consumer “right in the middle of our development cycle and…” giving an “… ongoing incentive to report/fix bugs respectively, and to also suggest/implement new features.”  seems like disingenuous sales double-speak.

    Bug fixes should be provided for free. If there is some genuinely value added feature that becomes available then the proposed pay system might be reasonable.  But what happens if I decided not get the subscription but at some future date decide to “upgrade/update”, what would I pay?

    So with a $50/year subscription and assuming that Sky has a five year life cycle, then I could reasonably conclude that I would pay $250 for the next “complete” edition.  Would this be worth it if that  in the second or third  year of the subscription the “upgrades” are not features I really care about or the bug fixes are for problems I don't have?  Or the opposite, if I don't buy the subscription and the “upgrade” includes bug fixes that are “discovered” in year two and I don't get them the software becomes unusable?

    Paying for features, even if they are incremental, is a choice we make every time we buy the next edition.  But if they are small incremental changes it tends to dilute the value of upgrading causing many to wait to pay for features they really want.  But paying for bug-fixes could be problematic.


    David Toth

    I believe that most of what you will see after the first year will more likely be enhancements rather than bug fixes. With the purchase price, you get the subscription for the first year included. You have a whole year with the product before you'd need to pay for a subscription anyway.

    To put it in perspective. another astronomy developer charges $499 for their camera control software, and that includes 1 yr. of updates/fixes or whatever you want to call it. Then they charge $150 for yearly subscriptions. If you have had their software already, then an update would really just entail getting the yearly subscription. People who own that software renew their subscriptions if they believe there is value for them, and those prices are higher than SB charges for subscriptions. Each company sets their prices based on their business model, and each company probably is not directly comparable, but you get the idea.

    At any rate, if you prefer, then you can stick with your current software.

    Currently, you have had free updates to TPoint for up to 12 years, 8 years for CCDSoft (from 2001), and 5 years for TheSky6 (from Feb. 2004 — I mistakenly stated 2005 in an earlier post). I believe that we've milked the heck out of these products. No other software vendor would have done this and expected to stay relevant.

    As a support group moderator, and not as a SB employee (I am a full-time Emerg Doc), I will try to support your older products as well as I personally can, but it will become difficult for me once I no longer use the older products.

    Your mileage may vary.

    Clear skies,

    Dr. Dave


    Don Scott

    I guess this is the way the world is going. Airlines are now charging for pillows and peanuts. My medical doctor recently went into a 'Concierge Practice' where I would have to pay a large fee each year to stay with him. (I found a new doctor.)

    Nobody likes to get 'squeezed'. Paying for services that we have been used to getting gratis is unpleasant.

    Each of us will have to decide if this is worth it. But clearly, there will no longer be a 'family feeling' about Software Bisque. It has become strictly business. I don't know what I will do.


    John Smith

    This is an interesting conundrum.  Bug fixes are one thing, new features are another.  With most software, bugs are generally resolved within the first year, usually shorter.  

    But users are always asking for new features, options, etc.  How long should a developer continue to respond to these requests with no additional revenue to offset the labor (a.k.a feed the family) ? a month, a year, forever?  Even though it is not tangible, software has as much or more intellectual capital in it as any hardware product.  (This is speaking as a retired ?hardware guy? and now a software author.)  

    Where does the ?value for value received? come from, if not from subscriptions?  With the SB installed base, the regression testing for a new feature can be prodigious, given the number of combinations and permutations.  And then what about support for new hardware?  And the testing of that support?  As long as hardware vendors eschew developing their own drivers, it is up to the application vendors.  This is not a SB issue, it is an industry-wide one.

    If you?re happy with what you have and it is stable for the equipment at the time it came out, then fine.  There is no need to upgrade.  But, if you want support for new features and hardware, isn?t it reasonable to expect to pay for it?

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