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Having help live for multiple previous versions of your software

I have come across some cases where I owned a software and was happy with it. This meant that unless pushed to the limit, I was not really interested in buying a newer version of the software, and even though there were several mails and offers that came to me for newer versions of the software, I did not bite the bullet. It is another matter that in the end, there was a dependency that caused me to update my version. I bought a new laptop running Windows 7 and when I tried to install the software on this machine, I ran into some errors. When I looked on the internet for some solutions to these problems, I learned that others had the same problems and there were no solutions. A couple of people had posted some solutions, all of which had the same answer – buy the latest version of the software. I finally bit the bullet and bought the software, but was not very happy even though the cost of the software was low, low enough that it would not have broken the bank.
However, my post relates to problems before I moved onto a new laptop. Like any other software, the product had long since discontinued packaging a bound help file with the software in the box, instead when you clicked on the help, you found that it would launch your browser and load internet based help. Now, with almost everybody connected to the internet all the time, having your help available on the internet is not a problem to users, and to tell the truth, when you have a problem, would you have tried to consult the physical help manual (if you could locate where you had kept the bound manual) or would you have just put your query onto the internet and found the solution. The solution that you could have found could have come off the help site or from some other forum where a user already had a solution for the query from somebody who had the same problem as you.
Once when I had a problem in a certain workflow, I went to the site of the company and from there to the product and navigated to the online help. When I started reading, the workflow described in the help document did not seem to be the same as in my product, and left me confused. And then I saw a small tip at the bottom which mentioned the version of the product for which this help was based, and this was the latest version while I have a version that was atleast 2 cycles back. Fine, it makes sense for the company to have the default help for the latest version available to users, but what about those users who have older versions ? They paid for the product and the help is an integral part of the product, and so there should be a way for me to access the help. I did a query on the internet for the older version of the help, and as expected, a number of people having older versions had the same issue and had asked the same question. Apparently, it turned out that the company wanted to encourage people to upgrade to the latest version, and hence the help for the older versions was not easily accessible from the product site, it required something like 3 additional clicks to be able to access this help.
Of course, thanks to the marvels of user forums, somebody had posted the exact link of older help versions, and that is what I clicked. However, this interaction left me very dis-satisfied, and apparently many others. From this, it seemed to me that not having an easy way for paying users to access the relevant help version in way encouraged people to upgrade to the latest version; in fact, it seemed to indicate that the company cared more for money than user comfort (well, most corporations do, but they hide this feeling). It would have been far more encouraging for the reputation and brand of the company to have older versions of help available online in an easy access way so that users do not feel any discomfort.

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