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Now Software Shuts Down

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We're tremendously sorry to report that Now Software, makers of the Now Up-to-Date & Contact software and its Now X replacement, has suspended day-to-day operations. Company head John Wallace has set up a site to provide support for existing Now Software customers; it offers downloads to those who need copies of already licensed software along with user forums for technical support.

On the site, John has also posted a farewell letter to the Now Software community, explaining that the company essentially bit off more than it could chew with its next-generation contact and calendar management software, Now X, which spent years in development under the codename NightHawk.

Now Up-to-Date & Contact was based on an extremely old code base, and the Now Software developers knew they had to rewrite it entirely to move beyond the basic Mac OS X compatibility they were able to achieve with the original code. But calendaring software is devilishly difficult to do well, especially when it's designed to offer sharing among members of widely dispersed workgroups, and Now X needed to shoehorn both calendaring and contact management into a single program.

That task took years longer than anticipated, leading to a situation where Now Software wasn't earning much from the elderly Now Up-to-Date & Contact, but still needing significant resources to devote to Now X development. Although Now X officially shipped in August 2009, it had numerous rough edges and many Now Up-to-Date & Contact users had already switched to other programs. Apparently, sales of Now X weren't sufficient to bring the company back from the brink.

We moved to BusyMac's BusySync and iCal (see "Converting from Now Up-to-Date to iCal and BusySync," 12 December 2008), and then to BusyCal, which is amusing because that brought us back to the work of Now Up-to-Date's original creators, Dave Riggle and John Chaffee. We also use Address Book, though not entirely happily.

This was actually the second incarnation of Now Software. The first company, which I remember forming around the Now Utilities collection of updated shareware utilities in the early 1990s, was purchased by Qualcomm in 1997, when Now Software was reportedly the 71st-largest software company in the United States, with nearly 2 million users (at the time, Qualcomm boasted 18 million users of Eudora; how things have changed). The acquisition was seemingly aimed at bringing Now Software's expertise in contact and calendar management to Eudora users in the form of a program called Eudora Planner. It wasn't a success, and utility company Power On Software acquired the rights to Now Contact and Now Up-to-Date and Eudora Planner in 1999.

Three years later, Power On Software revived the Now Software name as a division of the company (see "Macworld Expo New York 2002 Superlatives," 29 July 2002), and eventually renamed the entire company to Now Software, dropping all of Power On Software's previous utilities to focus on the bundled Now Up-to-Date & Contact. For a number of years, Now Up-to-Date & Contact remained one of the most capable contact and calendaring solutions for workgroups, particularly given iCal's abysmal approach to sharing and Address Book's complete lack of sharing capabilities until recently. In 2006, we worked with Now Software to produce the free "Take Control of Now Up-to-Date & Contact" ebook, which remains available for download.

It's always sad to see a company upon whose products you have depended disappear, and that's all the more true for us with Now Software, since even before we worked with them professionally on the Take Control title, we'd known John and Sheila Wallace, along with a variety of other Now Software employees, from various MacHacks and Macworld Expos. We wish them the best of luck, and look forward to whatever they end up doing next.

 

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Comments about Now Software Shuts Down

ileneh  2010-03-22 15:39
This is upsetting in so many ways! First, for the company. Second for the few loyal supporters.

I've used Now Software - the calendar portion - since my son was born. All our appoint., dates, and everything is in there! That's why I never switched to anything else.

Anyone know how I can convert to something else, preferably not iCat?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-03-23 08:32
My current recommendation is BusyCal, which uses the same database as iCal, so it's great for syncing and integration with other programs, all without having to use iCal.
Deborah Shadovitz   2010-03-22 16:12
I've loved John & Sheila Wallace since they were part of the original Now team many years ago. Their OS 8/9 security software & Action Utilities was the best! I'm sad to see Now close but I bet we'll be seeing a lot more from the Power On Software team. Best wishes to the entire Now team for everything in their futures.
Samuel Herschbein  2010-03-22 16:26
The sad part is how they didn't update their code nor fix bugs year after year while keeping the product on the market. I had no end of trouble keeping Now clients & server running through OS upgrades, it finally became dysfunctional. Now caused their own demise, they were once the premiere PIM for Mac. Sorry to seem cruel, but I'm not surprised nor sad to see them go.
Randy Murray  2010-03-22 16:44
Sad news indeed, and perhaps the end of an era. I was part of the Power On/Now Software team for seven years and greatly enjoyed my time there and the opportunity to meet and work with people in the Mac market.

I started using Now Up-to-Date & Contact long before I joined the company, getting a copy with my first Palm Pilot. It looks like Palm my not be long in following Now Software into the sunset.

My best wishes to John and Sheila and all the former crew.
Now Software was an important part of the Macintosh for me. I wish John and his employees luck in the future. Very sad to see another company go under.
Karl S.  2010-03-22 17:39
I finally emailed them last week to ask for a refund of my pre-release purchase of Now X (then "Nighthawk")...maybe that was the email that broke the camel's back.
Shouldn't have waited so long to decide that, yup, it just plain doesn't fly right- even on 10.6.

Sigh.
Really sad to see them fade like this. NUTDC was the spine of my daily computer life for years.
Guess I should have pulled the trigger long ago, when Adam did
Ralph Smith  2010-03-22 18:21
I loved Power On's Address book from the 90s. It was simple and powerful but best, it was very flexible.
The think I liked most was the ability to print double-sided address books at any custom size.
I still am considered installing OSX 10.1 or even 9.2 on a small partition to get that ability back!
James H  2010-03-22 19:11
What great memories. I also loved the address book. It was so flexible. I always printed one out to keep in my car (an era before the PDAs were popular). NUTD was also my calendar of choice for years. I miss some of the basics...like color coding days, numbers, weekends etc... Seems simple enough. Are you listening BusyCal???
I don't have as glowing memories as you do. John broke Now X at Macworld a number of years ago saying it would be only a few months before release. He took money for the software which never appeared. They continued to take subscriptions offered awful to nonexistent tech support. I am happy to see them go. Time to move on John . Ok? Bad bad bad.
Steve Basile  2010-03-22 19:56
I bailed years ago on Now Up To Date in favor of Entourage's calendar. Because of the iPhone I've recently bailed on that for iCal.
I'm still a user of Now Contact. Where from here with that program? Oy.
Ranger Lefty, Black Rock Rangers  2010-03-22 21:39
Unless someone can otherwise point me to a Mac product with similar functionality at a reasonable ONE-TIME cost, Now Contact v5.3.2 for Mac OS X, as of today, 03/22/10, provides INCREDIBLE, MULTIUSER, REMOTE operation to a contact database THAT ALLOWS FOR A RECORD WITHIN A RECORD.

WHAT...OTHER...MAC...CRM...OR...CONTACT MGMT....PRODUCT... can let the user create/edit/update multiple sub-records (ie. NC's Notes records) WITHIN a particular contact record (NC's Contact record), for all subscribed to see and edit and add to?

Don't bother trying -----> there are NONE!

One has to buy into the MEGA-$$$ co@t for a Salesforce.com-esque project from Hell, or pour unending $$$'s into someone building & customizing & then fixing & maintaining a Filemaker or Bento DB (yuck!).

We NC/NUTD users yelled & cursed you Now Software. But underneath that ire was real LOVE, as your product creates mammoth amounts of unrecognized VALUE daily, to this day and into the foreseeable future.

All you retiring Now Software employees & Now Software alumni should be proud of yourselves. Your built-up Good Karma will serve you well and help you land gracefully.
Matthew Bookspan  2010-03-23 08:21
Have you looked at Daylite? It can do everything you've described and more. To learn more, please contact me here: http://mbookspan.com/contact/contact.php
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-03-23 08:35
Turns out one of our staffers (Rich Mogull) uses Daylite, so I'll be leaning on him for some coverage soon.
Lane Roathe  2010-03-22 21:48
How I wish Now X had been up to the standard of NUDC; but alas even the very latest versions had major issues where the program simply did not work at all, as well as being extremely memory hungry and so slow I simply could not use the application. Still, I purchased Now X to show support in the hopes that they would be able to work the kinks out...

NUDC was one of my indispensable programs, and I have yet to find anything remotely able to replace it.

Sad news indeed.
jahamasa  2010-03-22 21:59
I'm reminded of Joel Spolsky's essay "Things You Should Never Do, Part I" from April 2000 in which he wrote

"Netscape 6.0 is finally going into its first public beta. There never was a version 5.0. The last major release, version 4.0, was released almost three years ago. Three years is an awfully long time in the Internet world. During this time, Netscape sat by, helplessly, as their market share plummeted.

It's a bit smarmy of me to criticize them for waiting so long between releases. They didn't do it on purpose, now, did they?

Well, yes. They did. They did it by making the single worst strategic mistake that any software company can make:

They decided to rewrite the code from scratch."
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-03-23 06:24
Complete rewrites are extremely tough to accomplish, but they're the sort of things that programmers like to do sometimes because they're so embarrassed by their old, crufty code and band-aid fixes.

But surviving through a rewrite is tricky - everything takes longer than expected, and if you don't have a revenue source during that time, you could end up like this. There was a neat program called ThoughtPattern from the wonderfully named Bananafish Software back in the early 1990s that fell prey to this as well - 1.x was great, but they wanted to rewrite for 2.0, and they were never able to get it out.
Guenther Fischer  2010-03-23 00:40
Sorry to hear that Now Software has shut down. I used their software for many years and it was quite productive. What I never understood, is their decision of no longer supporting the older versions and jump into a rewrite of NowX. It would have been a small effort to make things work in 10.5 and even in 10.6. compared to a complete rewrite and they would not have lost their complete customer base.
I am still using a palm, but the actual sync solutions are far behind the older Now software.
What I still miss is a better address book: Apple or may be someone else should have a close look to the old Now software. I miss that! On the other hand, BusyCal has brought at least a good iCal replacement, that compares to the old Now software.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-03-23 06:25
My understanding (from some behind-the-scenes conversations) is that the NUDC code was REALLY old and crufty, and there was only so far it could be taken in the modern age.
Marc Vogiela  2010-03-23 01:40
I've swiched to "Contactizer Pro" about 2 years ago, coming from NUDC, and I don't regret it.
It may fit your needs too.
Jim Redelfs  2010-03-23 03:16
That was a nice farewell, Adam. I fondly remember my devotion to and eager use of Now Utilities. All good things come to an end.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-03-23 06:26
Now Utilities was the first package ever reviewed in TidBITS, so I too remember it very fondly.
I used Now for quite a while back when I moved to the Mac in 2003. The problem I always ran into the product was that it was falling gravely behind in features and "Mac isms" meaning, it never seemed to be following along with the operating system. Things like Mail Integration was terrible, no iCal support and the list goes on, was it a bad product? No, it was fine for what it was at the time. But when I discovered DayLite by MarketCircle, I completely abandoned the product for DayLite and have never looked back.

Does this mean Now wasn't a good product, no. It just means that they never satisfied my need for features and I found another product that did a better job. It appears to me that they focused on the wrong things and eventually realized they couldn't generate the sales they needed to sustain business.

It's sad they couldn't keep going, but this happens to many companies who don't remain "relevant."
Christopher R. Whent  2010-03-23 09:48
The single most useful feature for me of NUDC was the "New fax/letter" facility. Even with many other features no longer available, I still have Contact as an active application for just that feature.
Robert  2010-03-23 10:39
Our department operates three venues and ancillary support components for live performance and production. We have used NUTD and Now Contact from the beginning on Macs and then additionally on PC's to schedule thousands of events each year. It has proven flexible and comprehensive for creating schedules and tranferring information. Can't imagine where a comparably priced and capable application will come from.
This reminds me of the program "In Control" that I used on OS7, 8 & 9 (?) I really liked In Control, worked great for me. That and when Opcode (Vision, Studio Vision) went out really hurt. Ever since I have tried to use programs where there is a path to relatively easily move data from one to the next as these companies come and go.

Boy there was a bunch of great software in the System 7 days - ClarisWorks was great, Claris Impact was great, HyperCard was very interesting and great, Studio Vision was great, etc. What great software did you use back in the day?
Jim Syler  2010-04-06 06:43
I STILL use ClarisWorks (AppleWorks now) for some things, even though I own the iWork suite. I've been using Now Up-to-Date, in its various incarnations, for more than fifteen years now. I can't believe it's gone for good.
dave w  2010-03-23 12:37
Have read but never contributed to this forum before.
Yes I also fondly remember NOW in all its incarnations since I've used Macs from 1990, and paid for them too.

That's the recommendation! Would you pay for it? In this country before Internet downloadable software, these cost +/- US250 the pair from Apple dealers, and I upgraded several years too so must have spent 3x that.

However in the end, waiting 3 years before I joined the X crowd, the software wasn't any more functional or pretty, and by not incrementing and improving basic things, you lost your customer base. Sorry to see you go, but, thats business! dave
David Slone  2010-03-23 13:10
It is sad to see the end of Now Software, although the writing seemed to be on the wall given the long gestation of Now X.

I started using NUD at least as early as January 1993, and still use 4.5.3. It works flawlessly under 10.5.8, and I would have a hard time living without it.

I have developed fairly intricate list views, and unfortunately the later versions always broke those. I would have gladly sprung for the upgrade, but the work to regenerate my list views was not worth it. It is not clear whether the new versions had anything I needed, anyway.

I never used Now Contact since I had already set up my contacts in FileMaker Pro.

I wonder whether NUD will break if and when I go to 10.6.
Jim Syler  2010-04-06 06:54
They've got a compatibility script on the nowsoft.com download page. I'd get it now before it's gone.
Lynn Fredricks  2010-03-23 17:15
I was a part of the old Now Software in Portland. Ive written up some of my experiences there, and also the Qualcomm takeover.

I am very sad to see it go. NUD&C (and Now Utilities) were at one time products every mac user wanted to have.

http://www.lynnfredricks.com/2010/03/23/now-software-gone-but-not-forgotten/
Raj Rodrigues  2010-03-23 18:05
Sad news indeed! I've used Now Utilities ever since my first Mac in 94 and will sorely miss them. The combination of Now Utils with Action Menus was almost magical for me.
Biggest problem for current multi-user, multi-platform (Mac and PC) users of NUtD will be lack of additional serial numbers as new staff members join the firm. Up until a week or so ago, you could ring Now and still get a S/N for a new comer.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-03-24 08:30
The site at http://nowsoftware.org/ has a link to contact them for additional licenses, so hopefully that won't be a problem.
Alas. No response to email request.

Time to look for a multi-platform compatible alternative.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-03-25 12:30
John's being overwhelmed with email - hopefully he'll get to it soon.
Zip, nada, zilch after weeks. They're gone!
Tripp Frohlichstein  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2010-03-24 11:15
I was a happy user of Now products - until I wanted additional copies for my own personal use. They wanted to charge me full price, even though I simply wanted another copy for my MacBook Pro so I could share my calendar with myself. When the new version came out, they told me the same thing - no breaks. So I became an iCal user as there was no break for multiple copies (or users in the same family)
Robert Ward  2010-03-24 11:54
It is sad to hear this news. I work for a company named Beezwax Datatools. And we develop Filemaker applications that work with calendars, like iCal, and we make a CRM product called Hive Contacts. I suggest taking a look at that for anyone who needs solutions in these areas.
Stuart Landay  2010-03-25 11:29
I still use NUDC 5.3.2 with OS 10.6.2. The server programs work. I can sync my Palm Treo 700P phone and the calendar on my wife's Palm TX. Now Contact is a lot more powerful than Address Book, especially with regard to printing,keywords, notes, and custom fields. NUD is a lot more powerful than iCal. When I get an iPhone, I'll have to graduate to BusyCal and Address book. I wish John Wallace had left the knowledge base online for troubleshooting.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-03-25 11:37
The new site is run through Google Sites (which is quite limited), whereas I imagine the knowledgebase required a dedicated server. I'll ask him, though, and perhaps an interested member of the NUDC community would be interested in hosting it.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-03-25 12:31
I've checked on this with John, and he's working on getting this information back online. It's a somewhat non-trivial task, so won't be happening right away.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-03-25 14:10
Has anyone used SOHO Organizer 8, which would appear to have many of the same features as Now Up-to-Date & Contact?

http://www.chronosnet.com/Products/sohoorganizer.html
Ryan Cash  2010-03-25 14:20
Just thought I'd mention that Marketcircle is offering some help to Now Software users, along with a 30% discount on Daylite license purchases.

Visit http://www.marketcircle.com/daylite/nowsoftware/ for more info.
Linda Cameron  2010-03-26 10:52
I loved Now Contact & Up to Date and have used both since around version 1. I have used it less and less over the past few years because they haven't kept up with the way things change. I always thought it should have evolved into an email client with all the extras. That way people who used it would always have it open and handy and depend on it even more. But when you have Entourage and Mail both integrating with their own calendars and address books, it gets easier to start using those tools. There is still room for some kind of a program that will let you integrate your address book, calendars, and mail merges with customized labels. There are lots of third party programs but none seem to do everything we want them to do. Apple should give us back a good database program like we had in AppleWorks but make it part of iWork. Numbers can do the job for lots of things but I can't print mailing labels with custom fields.
Bob Harris  2010-03-30 10:39
Adam
I was past Pres of Jam Software (Smart Alarms) and deeply miss the Reminder function of that or at least that of Now Up To Date.
One historical note. The origin of the Now Contact was Touchbase no? Guy's funded company.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-03-30 11:44
I can't remember the exact history of TouchBASE, but a scan through our archive indicates that Now bought it at some point from Adobe.

http://db.tidbits.com/article/1485
David Ticzon, DDS  2010-04-23 10:04
As read the postings I see everyone is recommending BusyCal. I talked to the developers at MacWorld, and thought they were not very friendly. The problem with their product is that it doesn't run on older Macs, and it forces you to have to buy new machines. In my office, I still have old G3s and G4s using NUDC as it shares calendars and contacts with Intel Macs running Snow Leopard. No problems. Fast, no slow downs. When I asked the developer of BusyCal why they don't support older machines, he couldn't give an answer. There are many businesses that still use older machines to just do light duty things, including serving an Calendar and Contact Database. NUDC satisfied this need. BusyCal requires a fairly new machine, and that is not a good reason to use this software.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-04-23 10:41
I'm very surprised, since the BusyCal guys (there are only two of them) are very nice and extremely competent. The simple reason why older machines aren't supported is, as far as I can see, that they target Mac OS X 10.5 and later, so Macs running 10.4 and earlier won't be able to play. Every developer has to draw a line in the sand about supporting older versions of the OS, since there are significant testing and development costs in extending support backwards in time.
Susanne P.  2010-04-30 14:14
What a sad day it is! I LOVE NUDC and have been using it for 8 years (still in version 5.3.2) I was anxiously waiting for NightHawk because Don Hobson at Now Contact, whom I adored, mentioned NightHawk would remedy a HUGE mistake we have made. We have written all of our notes in the COMMENTS area, not knowing the comments area was not really a true field and it would not export out into another program. He said NightHawk would fix this problem allowing a transfer of these comments into the note field. Does ANYONE have any experience with this? I am lost because I have 24,000 customers with extensive notes that I will have to export into a new program. Have emailed John and left messages and no call back. Any thoughts or comments would mean the world to me. Thank you in advance. ~ Susanne