JackFocusrite wrote:Hi all,
Joe (Rockrooms) has already posted on here but I thought I'd summarise a few points:
- We don't ever want to stop providing updates for any of our devices. We don't directly gain anything by ending development support for a device and we're well aware that, when we do have to do so, it will upset some of the users of that product. If we could, we'd support all devices indefinitely.
Thanks Jack. Let me make a couple of follow up remarks to the point that pertain my original and followup posts.
- At the same time, there sometimes becomes a point where it's simply not viable for us to continue to provide updates for very old products. This viability depends on a number of factors, ranging from engineering availability to technical practicality, amongst other things. Our hand is sometimes forced by OS/platform updates (e.g. Apple M1).
So much is clear, and reasonably uncontroversial.
Thing is, the Forte is not very old
. As an example, one of my interfaces is a RME Hammerfall Multiface built circa 2001. 20 years ago. That I can accept that is very old
and I truly marveled when I found out it worked flawlessly with w10 and it continues to do so update after update.
The Forte was launched in 2012 and has been sold, I guess, for a few years after. So someone might have bought one in say 2016 and now - from his/her perspective - be 5 or 6 years from the purchase. Now I find it difficult to reasonably qualify something that's been 5 or 6 years old as "very old"?
Furthermore, it is connected via USB 2.0 and nothing dramatic has happened to USB 2.0 in itself in this time (certainly not remotely as dramatic as the introduction of a fundamentally different hardware execution architecture). I am not aware of any dramatic change in Windows support for USB2.0 either (but I cannot be certain as I have not worked with it in the past few years, so please tell if that's the case, with some concrete reference to where to go look). There's also an argument that - if Windows support had changed so dramatically - it would have affected all similar USB devices.. and it patently hasn't.
So it would be cool to have an idea of what are the technical aspects that are stopping maintenance, beyond the usual somewhat generic arguments. That's because - from the point of view of someone reasonably familiar with the technical aspects of it, I cannot fathom any (and not for lack of trying). I could easily fathom the business reasoning beyond these changes, but I'd rather not - hence my post.
Just tell the world what's happened, in some degree of precision. While that kind of transparency is undoubtedly unusual (and occasionally can prove slightly embarassing - "we've lost the source code!"-style
) it could really be helpful to maintain credibility in what is, after all, a relatively niche market. It buys good will to no end, and good will buys product as much as good prices.
As an aside, it'd be very cool if you made the codebase open source so that someone else can actually adapt it. But I completely understand that that
is difficult, so no requesting it
- Where we can, we have provided software support for products well beyond the trends happening elsewhere in the technology sector. As an example, Apple typically provides OS updates for their hardware for around 7 years - the last update we provided for the FireWire Saffire range was in 2019, a decade after they were launched. The update in question means that Saffires will still work with Intel-based systems running the very latest macOS (Big Sur, launched towards the end of 2020).
Please bear in mind that the Saffires are FireWire 400 devices and Apple stopped putting FireWire 800 ports on their machines back in 2013. At this point in time there really aren't that many FireWire peripherals (audio interfaces or otherwise) that work with the latest Mac hardware/operating systems.
There are, of course, plenty of examples of other technology products receiving updates after both longer and shorter amounts of time than this.
That is nice to hear, but once again, it has little bearing on the Forte issue. Firewire has experienced a gigantic loss of market place which has shifted the hardware situation immensely. While not fun, I wouldn't complain about lack of FireWire support because FireWire is by now, well, "very old".
Not so for a plain USB2.0 product.
As of Apple: it is among the worst sinners when it comes to dumping technology and users, so hardly an example to follow in my humble opinion. But Apple is chiefly a consumer
company, it seems to me - which makes the behavior at least understandable, if not agreeable. In other words, I expect my iPhone to be out of date in a handful of years and I do not rely on Apple hardware for anything business related because of the same reason.
Again, the Forte was marketed as a "professional" product (from the manual's introduction:Thank you for purchasing the Focusrite Forte, one of the family of Focusrite professional computer audio interfaces incorporating high quality Focusrite analogue pre-amplifiers.
- When we stop providing updates for a product or range we communicate this as clearly as we can on our Help Centre. Us announcing that we're no longer providing software/driver updates does not immediately mean that the product in question stops working. As a user the option to hold off on updating your computer's operating system is always in your hands (though, of course, we recognise that everyone likes a good update!).
Well frankly, I would be surprised if you didn't (communicate clearly etc)
My argument is exactly with the decision of not providing continued support in the face of no overwhelming changes in the system landscape - changes such as the shift to ARM platforms or to a completely different connection protocol.
With Windows, the system landscape continuously undergoes a slow change (as said, I haven't checked for a few years now, but I doubt that the USB infrastructure changes with every
update). Of course, it would be even easier if it didn't, but it does.
Writing good audio drivers is a very particular skillset bestowed upon relatively few software engineers (in many ways it's not really like writing "software", it's often closer to middleware).
As I already replied to Joe, any discussion about difficulty is somewhat pointless, as it depends on the context and the capabilities and experience of the person speaking (or writing).
The sense of the statement is as I clarified already. Nobody is saying that the activity is trivial. Building a house is not trivial. And yet is the job that people building houses have elected to do. Same goes for audio interfaces or any hardware interfacing with a Windows computer. After all, there are literally millions of hardware devices doing so in the world.
Your use of the term "middleware" is different from the one I recognize, but the word is fuzzy and overloaded, so no point in going there.
We write and maintain our drivers (Mac and Windows) in house.
No problem - apologies for my incorrect guess. It was based on personal experience of receiving boilerplate examples of driver code from hardware manufactures, that a development team often takes as a starting point.
It was also
in the context of my guessing what possibly could cause a USB device to be dropped. Happy to hear it's not the case... but that gives even more force to the question on why in the world that in-house work cannot
You're telling me you own the entire codebase, the Forte hardware hasn't obviously changed, and the only changes are relatively well-documented changes in generic Windows USB infrastructure, if any...
I do not mean to give you a hard time (and as I said, I like Focusrite): as written already, I do think that a degree of transparency on concrete whys and hows, while unusual, would be really a tremendous differentiator in an ever more crowded marketplace.