My LEtter to FS

  • From: Bruce Toews <water_drinker@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: jfw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 23:08:07 -0500 (CDT)

Here, before Mames tells us to stop the thread, in case he's still 
monitoring the list, is my letter to FS.

Subject: Disappointment with Recent JAWS Developments

First, I want to say that I know there are some very good people working for 
FS. This is not directed to them. However, I do not know of other avenues to 
take in expressing my concerns, and I feel these concerns need to be expressed.

I have been a JAWS user for several years now. I purchased the product and all 
related SMA's out of my own pocket. I believed, and still believe, that I was 
making the right choice.

However, it seems to me that FS is making not just an inadvertent distancing 
from their customer base, but seems to be making a concerted effort to do so. 
The result is a series of upgrades and updates with little useful new 
functionality implemented, with few bugs being fixed, and a growing feeling 
among the average JAWS user, the people without whom there would be no JAWS, 
feeling that they have no say. The frustration is mounting, the anger is 
increasing, and that frustration and anger are, I feel, quite justified. Never 
was this made more clear to me than when I tried, through proper channels in a 
public beta process, to report a bug with JAWS and the TripleTalk synthesizer. 
The response I received back was, in essence, Yes it's a bug, live with it. I 
no longer have a TripleTalk synthesizer, but as the bug sent through all 
incarnations of JAWS 5 without a fix, I can only assume the bug is still there. 
Access Solutions tells me that FS had promised to include the JAWS drivers for 
the DecTalk USB in JFW 6. I don't know about JFW 6.1, but in JFW 6.0 this did 
not happen.

The horror stories I am reading from users on the JFW list have led me to 
decide not to upgrade to 6.1. This is a first for me, becasue I am one who very 
much likes to put new software through its paces, which is why I tried several 
times to offer my services as a beta tester (by way of reward for which I was 
given several ridiculous runarounds, I gave FS personal information to which 
they would not be otherwise entitled, and was finally told my services would 
not be required). A lot of these horror stories would, I am sure, have been 
avoidable if FS would reimplement the public beta process, the removal of which 
is just another example of the programmers isolating themselves from the 

FS has further not endeared itself to the general usership by adding features 
at additional cost which the competition offers at no additional cost. Iw will 
soon become just as cost-effective to purchase Window-Eyes as to pay for the 
upgrading JAWS requires, and given the apparent focus on stability which GW 
Micro is exhibiting, some users may well see this as preferable.

We need FS to concentrate on stability, on bug-fixes, on evoking loyalty, not 
rage, from its user-base. Loyalty cannot be counted on to sustain JAWS's 
popularity in the future, if that loyalty isn't earned. The march over to the 
competition will happene, gradually, but it will happen. I am still a loyal 
JAWS user, becasue I prefer the JAWS interface. I have, until now, defended FS 
and JAWS against many criticisms. But I find the product FS is putting out 
these days, combined with the concerted effort to alienate its customer base to 
be indefensible, and I have moved to the side of the critics. I have both 
products on my system, and they are both up-to-date. My loyalty to JAWS is not 
bulletproof, and the more bullets FS fires into it, the weaker it becomes.

I invested in this. I saved my hard-earned salarty to purchase your product. If 
I hadn't invested, if I didn't believe in my investment, I wouldn't care. But I 
do care, because I want to be a part of the solution, not of the problem. I 
want JAWS to work because I have put several months' salarty into it. I want it 
to work because I don't like finding out I made stupid decisions. I want it to 
work because I truly do like JAWS.

Finally, I urge you to consider this question. The sentiment toward GW Micro 
from its users is one of increased loyalty. The sentiment to FS from its 
customers is one of increased bitterness, anger, alienation and outrage. Why is 
this the case, and when will FS decide that it is not worth it and aim toward 
stabilizing the loyalty of the existing users, the paople who pay your salary 
in the long run, the people for whom FS claims to be in business?

Bruce Toews
MSN/Windows Messenger: water_drinker@xxxxxxxx
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