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Doug McLean

 
 

Silverlining or Goldlining?

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There's been a bit of complaining on the nets recently because La Cie's popular disk formatting and partitioning utility, Silverlining, has suffered an increase in upgrade price. In the past, if you wished to get a minor upgrade, which La Cie terms an update, the charge was a nominal $5. With all the work that went into making Silverlining compatible with System 7.0 though, La Cie raised the update charge fivefold to $25, which many people feel is unreasonable, especially in comparison to the policies held by other companies that produce drive formatting software (like Everex, for example). In addition, La Cie requires (presumably because they don't assign serial numbers) that you send them your original disk, a policy that is wide open to problems with mail delivery and the like.

I spoke with Louis of La Cie's technical support team, and he explained the company's position. The upgrade cost from version 4.18 or any other version in the 4.x range is $50, and La Cie recommends that anyone using those versions upgrade immediately since La Cie no longer supports those older versions. The update price from any version in the 5.x range will be $25 without any exceptions, but there may not be a serious need to that right away. The latest version of Silverlining is 5.28 revision 12, and it is System 7.0-compatible with two caveats. First, problems may occur if you try to password protect a System 7.0 boot volume, and second, if you mount a System 6.0.x disk with the Silverlining DA for the first time, before the disk has been prepared for System 7.0 by a previous mounting, "there's a potential for mayhem," to quote Louis.

No new functionality has been added to Silverlining in the latest version, so if you don't need to use System 7.0 right away, I'd recommend waiting a little longer until La Cie fixes the two remaining problems. That's probably what I'll do. I use version 5.22 and have had no trouble using the basic features of System 7.0, though I haven't tried using virtual memory or file sharing yet, both of which will probably have trouble on my system because I use an older version of Silverlining. The people who stand to be burned by this policy are developers, who will want a version that is System 7.0-compatible now and will want at least the final version as well, if not several in the meantime. Those developers will have to pay attention to how many times they must get the latest update or the cost will add up fast.

I'm not offended by the price increase for System 7.0 compatibility, since $25 is a reasonable price for all that Silverlining does, but I think that La Cie should come up with a reduced price plan for people who absolutely must purchase intermediate versions in order to do development work. In addition, if you have to get a new update because of bugs in the previous one, the charge should at most cover the disk and postage costs - users should not pay for buggy software. Of course, then there's the view that developers can afford to pay for the updates since they'll be producing wonderful works of software that will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. OK, maybe not, but if you are going to need intermediate versions of Silverlining, it's worth calling La Cie and mentioning my suggestion of a reduced price for several versions.

La Cie -- 800/999-0143

Information from:
Louis at La Cie
Edgar Knapp -- knapp@cs.utexas.edu

 

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