I am not a beta tester but am aware of the NDA all must sign. Therefore it's
possible that nobody who knows will be allowed to answer my question.
However, I am wondering how they can truly beta test a software that is
supposed to run on an OS that the software doesn't run on? And also test it
on an OS that hardly anybody has loaded on their machines?? (not to mention
Seems obvious to me that the only beta testing of 2008 that is being done
must be on XP. Therefore, how can anybody even be talking about SW on Vista
is there is no way to prove that it will work in a production environment???
This would seem to indicate that the first true version of SW for Vista will
have to wait until at least a later service pack of 2008, if not SW 2009.
...also you might also look at the token prereleases and consider beta
testing was a farce again...I wouldnt bother about violating NDA
either...after what SW themselves chose to strategically leak thru the
blog squad and the draft 'whats new' its been rendered fairly
pointless for months....
Ultimately it is up to SW to test their software and provide it to
users in a finished and usable form. Over the years we have come to
expect to have to test it ourselves. It is rather surprising to me
that the OS makes that much difference in how SW operates. But it
Having been around for a while (like you) I went over in my mind the
history of Beta testing (help me here with dates.)
When SW was marketed circa 1995 the company was very tight lipped
about any new feature or functionality. When released it was solid ( I
rarely found problems). Problems were handled in Concord and that is
were you called for tech support. Pro/E seemed to be the paradigm for
what the software was supposed to do and at least in my mind Pro/E was
the standard to which SW should be evaluated. 166Mhz was a screaming
fast processor at the time. From 95 to 98 there were few changes to
the user interface and some basic functionality that was still being
sorted out like having a single mate tree in an assembly.
By 1998 SW was starting to have a few show stopper problems and for me
performance was starting to be an issue (300 Mhz was about the fastest
processor and it wasn't adequate for mold work). I started asking my
VAR when he thought the next SP was ready to use. SW would never
release vaporware, bucking the general trend in the software
By 2001 SW was starting to involve power users on a limited basis in
testing and product definition. The 3 Amigos met Biasotti in the lobby
of SW. Beta was still not open to the public. 1 gigahertz processors
were starting to be available and were still not fast enough. SW was
using statistics to determine what to fix and whether the product was
acceptable in the marketplace. There were small inklings of future
directions at SWW.
Around 2003/2004 SW started to open up beta testing. At first it
seemed to come out of the trend of having to ask the VAR whether SW
was really ready for production. SW was letting users identify
problems and leaving problems that user's didn't identify as being
show stoppers till last or never. 2003 was a major shift in
functionality in SW with the addition of multi-body support. This had
been in UG and Pro/E for years and was the last really great
improvement year in SW. SWW was being used to "vote" on new
functionality. Feature bloat in response to Inventor and SolidEdge
seem to become a driver in new functionality.
Currently it seems that SW has started to depend on schedule and beta
testing to wring out problems and release the product on time. SW
regularly releases vaporware at SWW now. Question: "At which SWW did
SW state that they would add some limited backward compatibility to
the software?" Pro/E is no longer the paradigm, Inventor and
SolidEdge are the paradigms.
What is wrong with such extensive beta testing? I would say skewed
statistics. People who are actually using the software probably don't
have the time to spend on beta. I know, I have spent hours at it. It
is hard to get work done and beta test and do a reasonable job at
both. Most beta testers will not have the latest cutting edge hardware
whereas SW always seems to. Vista is a good example.
Well you have been a user longer than I have but I tend to have a
slightly different perspective on this.
I am afraid I am somewhat more cynical than that.
To me beta testing is pretty much baloney - not because testers
haven't tried in their sincerity but because SW don't do anything
meaningful with the info prior to release. The number of bugs in a
release has gone up not down.
Honestly, how can they release PR1 and then PR2 a week later and have
people believe in it. Same as last release when they skipped through
it to meet their feel good launch schedule..
I'll bet many people didn't even download PR1 let alone test it before
it was gone.
Are we really supposed to believe they fixed things in-between?
We probably would have more success finding weapons of mass
To me beta testing has been both a free lunch on the good will of
users when they should have paid a team to do the job and a clever but
empty PR gesture.
Lets face it by the time a release gets to testing its pretty much set
in stone and the bulk of fixes are going to arrive about sp3
Whatever Matt might think he achieves in complaining about the
interface for example its pretty much pointless and he should know
I well remember the complaints in the past about playing the 'we got
it too' game with SE and Inventor and half finished half baked
features and its all the same deal today.
There are still major problems with SW management grasping vital clues
about being in business to serve customers rather than farming
customers and keeping pet blog squads.
We are talking about an engineering tool here not having something in
the showroom to dazzle 'em with every 9 months....
..but all old comments... and why I stopped buying.. ;o)
I looked hard at both prior comments and, thought of my experiences
since 2000-2001 with SolidWorks and with other "tech" on the bug side.
Microsoft has been so susceptible, I had to make major work change to
keep SolidWorks running happy as much as possible. That means
limiting XP Pro to ONLY Swks and MSOffice and Nothing Else, including
I have had to avoid all SolidWorks early releases until the software
gets to about SP4 before I load it, and things then don't seem to have
major problems or anything but small #s of crashes.
Then when I compare Microsoft & SolidWorks with another software
intensive platform I use, I wonder why MS & Swks can't do the same.
Apple's OS's have been rock solid for 5 years for me. Once in awhile
an application quits and then restarts w/o problem with Apple. I
don't wring out every last feature, but I don't recall a show stopper,
and have had maybe 1-2 OS crashes in 5 years, that caused a
Then Apple announces the iPhone, and the industry leaders like MS &
Palm's CEOs trash Apple for not knowing what they are doing, and the
pundits write what appears to be a hundred articles about why it will
not be right, acceptable, functional, bug free, safe, for so many
dreamt up reasons.
The reality of the iPhone was? I have used it for 2 months and it is
the only phone I never read a manual. It is the only phone where
every feature I tried worked as it should (though I didn't try every
option). Crashes? I crashed my Trek and the iPhone kept on working.
That crash hurt me. The iPhone is still solid.
It is possible to design good code and release it when you say you
will, and the customers will pay a premium to get good systems, with
good code. Apple has shown it, and their growth rate of triple the
industry shows they are making hay off of their skills.
As this decade progresses, I predict that MS is going to slowly get
edged out, as it continues to believe an Operating System is going to
continue to be premium priced and that the OS must "look cute", and
that an OS must be humonguous and please everybody's wishes with every
release and be DRM'd to death for every copyright holder, while at the
same time MS elbows the standards orgs to adopt their rediculuously
complex "OOXML" or whatever other standards, to try to lock in the
world to MS products.
If MS were smart, I would say they take the XBox approach and start
designing high end PC boxes that people scramble to buy to match
Apple's path that has been shown to work, but that is just me, a
stupid user speaking. Mind you, MS would not want to copy XBox
quality in PC boxes or they would go BK.
1. User interfaces must be more thoroughly planned out to be the best
and most intuitive. Reading 1000 page manuals with every other major
release is the pits on productivity.
2. Major Release once every two years
3. Major Release must be free of major bugs
4. Major Releases must have functionality pulled if not solid.
5. No Service Pack goes out without extensive developer testing.
6. Manuals on DVD need to be provided
7. The Most modern code writing, organization and debugging systems
must be employed.
8. The best people must be hired in the "write" places.
Toyota and Apple did not get where they are by taking shortcuts.
(Interesting analogy: Microsoft calls file aliases "shortcuts", and
that seems to ring true with me about Microsoft).
Companies that don't emulate the execution shown at the top of their
industry are going to ultimately face users who abandon their
I hope SWks gets its act together. I'm sticking with Swks 2006 for
now, though I may hit 2007 soon. We'll see how a trial run goes