I know for sure that people buy NMR software, although it seems to be a rare event in the life of everybody. I am convinced about it because this is what I am living from. What I don't know is how much time is spent in deciding which product to buy. Being the aim of this blog to help the public, today I want to warn the reader. I have discovered implicit dangers directly on the web sites of the houses that make NMR software. The danger is so manifest that my warning is unnecessary for 99% of the readers. Please, don't feel offended if I seem to underestimate the potential of your brain. I am writing for the physiological percentage of distracted customers.
My research started from wXNuts. Curiously enough, all the web pages on the Acorn site report the date of their last update. Today I have read: "09/10/2007". I remember, however, having read a nearly identical page at least two years ago. Please note: I myself don't trust my own memory anymore since 2003. Why is it so important to know how old is that page? You'll know if you read it. Acorn is selling a product that doesn't exist yet! While they are admitting the fact, no time-limit is indicated for the final release. Maybe, I think, if only the readers knew how long this story has been going on, they would delete the Acorn site from their bookmarks. They say that the product is already half-functional and are alluring the customer with a 50% discount (calculated starting from an absurdly bloated listing price).
Assuming that it took two years to arrive at the half-functional product, it will take at least an equal span of time to reach full-functionality, and another equivalent span to arrive at a stable and tested product. I say "at least" because, if they are progressing so slowly, it's a sign that they are taking prolonged and irregular rests. I wonder: is it so difficult to wait until a product is finished and then announce it? Isn't it more convenient to keep everything secret to the competitors?
I doubt that Acorn will ever complete wxNuts but, if the day arrives, by that day you'll have a different computer and maybe a different operative system. I wish you'll have the same husband/wife.
The second stage brings us to the NMRnotebook. This page is also time-stamped (2005). It's certainly 3 years old. It says that the product is ready and that it can be enriched by additional modules (that come at an additional cost). All the modules are declared "under development". How can we know if they are ready, when the web site has never been updated in years? Anyway, the modules are very specialistic indeed and I don't care about them, let's talk about the base product. Are you brave enough to buy a software at version 1.0? According to their own official information, the Notebook is the only NMR software still at version 1.0 today. Their initial plan stated:
Major upgrade fee (once a year): 20% of catalogue price
from which I realize that something unpredicted happened. Not enough copies sold? Too many copies sold? Are they tycoons now, retired in Thaiti? (BTW: this is my own "plan A").
The first two stages were shrouded in mystery, but the third one is perfectly clear, because not only is the MestreLab site frequently updated, it also keeps all the old news, including the wrong and misleading predictions. On September 8, 2006 "MESTRELAB RESEARCH SL announces the impending release of its new, revolutionary NMR software, MestReNova". "The software will be commercially released at the end of 2006 ... whilst the finishing touches are given". Being it such a short-term and detailed prediction, how could you be suspicious? How long could it take to give the famous finishing touches? Well, the prediction was 150% wrong: it took 7.5 months instead of 3. On April 23, 2007 "MESTRELAB RESEARCH SL is delighted to announce today the commercial release of its new, revolutionary software package, Mnova". It was a partial truth, because only the Windows version had been released. The Linux and Mac versions came later. On June 14 "the NMR Software Solutions company based in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, is delighted to announce the release of the first commercial version of its software package Mnova for the MAC OS platform. The software is now available for evaluation and purchase for all interested Mac users... The Mac community is very important to us, and we very much look forward to serving it with our software in the future".
It was true in June, it's false today. If you bought a Mac during the last three months, or if you have upgraded your OS to Leopard, you have no chance to evaluate Mnova, simply because the installer refuses to install it! It took so long to make the Mac version, but it became obsolete after only four months. Let's start a poll: how long will it take before MNova becomes compatible with Leopard?
Last but not least, our tour lands at "The next generation of NMR data acquisition and processing Software". What the hell it means? Does it require a 10 GHz computer? I am talking about TopSpin. "In order to run TopSpin, you need a state-of-the-art PC equipped... The PC may run under Windows XP, Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS 3 or WS 4." What if you have Vista? Isn't it state-of-the-art? Could you Bruker tell, please, the trouble you are in?