02-11-2010 09:33 AM
About two decades working with programmers (writing a good deal of code myself) confirms that first comment of yours about call ins for technical support. I am always astonished by the high level of tolerance that office workers have for improperly functioning software. (I'm only exagerrating a little here) I'm quite astonished when I use someone's computer only to see smoke coming out the back and have them tell me that this is fine with them as long as it doesn't blow in their eyes! So, when you write that they don't call for technical support, I'm hardly surprised. People put up with a lot until their is a total failure.
I'm fairly certain that Act's technical problems are business related. Either the division is very badly managed, or the head corporation puts a low priority on the product. My impression is that there is a churn in employees and a lot of work has been outsourced. As a result very few people are capable of delving into the code efficiently (once a product is finished and released for sale). This is complicated by something you mentioned, installation. When left to themselves installation and documentation are the last things programmers pay any attention to. The Act installation/deinstallation routines are about the worst I have ever seen on a commercially available product (until, at least v 10, which seems to install correctly). That is the "recurring" solution to inumerable Act issues--reinstall the program being sure you clean up the registry, because the previous installation failed to do this.
Microsoft is Microsoft, although, in my experience, they are pretty receptive to reports about bugs. Personally, I have never run into another program that experiences the number and severity of database corruption errors as Act. The web is just brimming with them, too. I've been called on a dozen occasions by Sage programmers following up on reports of bugs, only to learn that these are known errors to be fixed in the next version. I'm sure that all of this can be traced back to the management and money issues I mentioned earlier though.
The alternative is not so simple. There are few competitors left for MS products. I am not holding on to this version of act, and when outlook bcm catches up with the proper transfer programs, i'll upgrade office once (instead of act three or four times) and i'll, at least, have a stable if somewhat less flexible application.