More about NetNewsWire 2.0

People have been asking me—even on our bug tracker—if there’s an update to NetNewsWire in the works.

Yes! There is.

The next release will be NetNewsWire 2.0. We’re shooting for a public beta in the first half of June, and we hope to ship by WWDC. It could be later, of course, since we won’t ship it before it’s ready.

(Since Ranchero Software is mine and Sheila’s company, and not some big software company, we have the luxury of listening to the craftsman in us that tells us that quality is worth the extra time.)

It will be a free upgrade for 1.x users. If you bought (or if you buy) NetNewsWire 1.x, all 2.x versions will be free. We won’t do this for every major upgrade, but we’re doing it this time.

A number of people who already know about this policy have asked if my head’s on straight. An upgrade fee would be reasonable, they say, and there’s nothing wrong with asking people to pay for all the new features.

Here’s why it will be a free upgrade:

NetNewsWire has sold n copies, but the number of copies we could still sell is n times some large number. The number of people that could benefit from a feedreader is huge compared to the number who are already using one. So we’d much rather concentrate on new sales, and at the same time reward people who’ve already supported NetNewsWire.

This is a very different case than, say, Photoshop or Microsoft Office. Those markets are saturated: they have to charge for upgrades. While NetNewsWire is a successful product, it’s not in the same position as Photoshop.

Another question you might have is...

Why 2.0 instead of 1.1?

Though this release was originally going to be 1.1, a big part of the reason for that was that we didn’t want to do upgrade fees. Then we realized that it could still be 2.0, and we could just not do upgrade fees. Problem solved.

One of my peeves is when software companies use version numbers as marketing. How many times have you seen a product go from 1.0 to 2.0 (or 2.0 to 3.0, etc.) and then scratched your head because there weren’t very many changes? It’s happened to me many times. It’s dishonest.

The changes in NetNewsWire warrant the 2.0 designation. (I listed some of the changes back in April. There are some other changes not on the list, still under wraps for now.)

Also, making it 2.0 instead of 1.1 gives us the freedom to make some of the more radical changes we’ve wanted to do. And that’s a good thing: it’s all about making the software better.

Summing up

The upshot is this: we’re working full-throttle on 2.0, and plan to be in public beta in the first half of June. It will be a free upgrade: all 2.x versions will be free if you’ve bought (or if you buy) NetNewsWire.

20 May 2004

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