Sunday, December 26, 2010

Underwhelming update

I see that on Christmas Day (though of course it wasn't Christmas Day in Ukraine) the developers of the MixW sound card digital modes software released the long awaited MixW version 3. I couldn't find much information on the website about what new features it contained. "MixW3 is a next step on the way to the upcoming multiplatform MixW project. It proposes a new Telnet dialog with talk over DxCluster support and a possibility to have a backup copies of your log on our server," Nothing about what's new in the version available now. None of these "proposals" are things that I personally want, and I'm not even sure that chat over the DX Cluster will be welcomed by many users - there are enough non-spots cluttering it up already."

I decided to download the new version to see what I could find. As the screenshot above shows, it looks pretty much like MixW 2.19 which has been looking dated for years. I didn't see any new modes, nor support for RSID. What is even more disappointing, given the apparent lack of new features, is that this upgrade is not free. The website states "MixW3 upgrade is free for those who stay with us 10 years or more." I registered MixW a long time ago but not long enough, it seems. An upgrade to MixW3 will cost me the equivalent of $20 plus VAT.

At the time I paid for MixW It really was the premier digital modes software and I felt it was well worth the money. But after a few years it seemed as if MixW was neglected. In the intervening time new, more modern looking full featured competitors came on to the scene like Ham Radio Deluxe and Fldigi, which were also free. I switched to Fldigi a couple of years ago as MixW never properly supported the K3. And nothing I can see in the new version gives me any inclination to switch back, even if I could use the new version for free.

There is nothing wrong with charging for ham radio software. But charging for an upgrade in which the only apparent change is the version number and then expecting buyers to hang on patiently while new features are added won't work in a market where so many good products are free. Perhaps the multiplatform MixW 4 will be a must-have upgrade. I'm happy to wait and see.

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