We decided to change our product lifecycle policy concerning our add-ins for Dynamics NAV and concerning our extensions for Dynamics 365 Business Central. We (finally) align our release policy with Microsoft's release policy.
Thus, we no longer guarantee the backward compatibility of every new feature we build. We also (eventually) stop supporting NAV (and Business Central) versions that Microsoft doesn't support anymore. However, we offer extended support for business-critical uses of our products. Overall, the streamlined lifecycle helps us gain flexibility, agility, and additional development power. This will further improve our product delivery and the value for our customers.
This blog not only outlines the changes we made. It also reflects the reasons why we are doing so.
The decision we made is all about streamlining, about maintaining and having a clear (and clean) approach.
We started our business with visual scheduling add-ins and extensions for Microsoft Dynamics in 2013. Since then, we have been treating backward compatibility almost like a holy grail. That means, when we launched a new VPS .NET version for Dynamics NAV (with C/AL integration), we shipped new functionality for all NAV versions from 2009 R2 to 2018. Or, when we launched a new version of the VJS extension for Dynamics 365 Business Central, we shipped new functionality for all BC versions from v.14 to whatever was the current one.
Our customers and partners appreciated this approach. However, for us as developers and vendors of visual scheduling add-ins and extensions, this approach increasingly became problematic for three reasons.
Problem #1: Development for no longer supported Dynamics versions
We maintain both add-ins for Dynamics NAV and extensions for Business Central that are made for versions, which are no longer supported by Microsoft. Of course, customers can still use those NAV and BC versions. However, Microsoft will not fix any bugs in these versions.
The older these versions get, the more risky this approach is. This is true both for us (see below) and for our customers. Microsoft explicitly says that they do not guarantee that these versions will work after a platform update (e.g. from Windows 10 to Windows 11).
Fictional example: A customer that runs e.g. on Dynamics NAV 2013 and updates to Windows 11 may experience issues with NAV after that update. If this is the case, Microsoft will not fix this as Dynamics NAV 2013 is out of support since January 2018.
Problem #2: Increasing risk of being unable to provide support
Now comes the hard case for us. If something breaks in a no longer supported Dynamics NAV or Business Central version that impacts our add-ins/extensions, users get an error and come to us. Microsoft will not fix the underlying issue. Hence, we will not be able to fix “our” issue as well.
Thus, there is an inherent risk, that this can happen with the update from Windows 10 to Windows 11. Ultimately, we currently offer a service called “product maintenance” although there might be situations in which we are just unable to deliver that service.
That is something that we decided to fix.
Problem #3: Not building on the state-of-the-art
Last, but not least, we face another issue when it comes to Dynamics 365 Business Central. We all have been observing the clockwork-wise execution of Microsoft's product team. As a consequence, Business Central is getting better and better with every semi-annual release.
If we would follow the approach of being backward compatible, we would always have to build on Business Central 14. That way, we could not properly leverage the best-of-breed product and services that Microsoft releases every half year. Instead, we would have to swallow technological (and functional) disadvantages - just for the sake of being backward compatible.
That is something we decided to stop.
Our product lifecycle policy for our extensions
for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (AL integration)
For Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Microsoft applies what they call the modern lifecycle.
It says that
- Microsoft only supports the current and the previous two versions
- Microsoft builds new features ONLY for the current and next version
That means if they build a new feature now (with Business Central version 19 being the current version), it will be available for BC 20, but no longer for any previous version.
We decided to fully follow Microsoft’s modern lifecycle. Starting now.
- We will provide bugfix support only for the current, and the previous two versions of Business Central.
- We will ship new features only for the current Business Central version. In addition to this, we aim at implementing new features also for the previous two versions. However, we cannot guarantee this as we can face technical limitations coming from Microsoft.
The table below shows the result of this definition and the resulting end dates for our product development, the sales period, and the support. To learn more about these product lifecycle milestones, please visit our lifecycle policy page.
Our product lifecycle policy for our add-ins
for Microsoft Dynamics NAV (C/AL integration)
The Business Central-related decision was the easy part. It was easy because Microsoft's modern lifecycle is clear, and there is a consensus in the market about the value of always being on the current version.
However, the world is different among the users of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Here is what we decided to implement - with immediate effect.
- We have to clean up our product portfolio rather radically.
- However, we also need to deliver to our promise of a "security of investment" in a reasonable manner.
- "Reasonable manner" means that we expect that Dynamics NAV customers will make the move to Business Central at the latest within the next years (until the end of 2024).
- We state very clearly, that we take responsibility for our code only. We cannot and will not fix issues that come from an ERP system that is no longer supported by Microsoft.
- We offer customers extended support after the “end of support” date. However, this support will get charged by the hour – without any guarantee of us providing bug fixes
Visual Production Scheduler (VPS) for Dynamics NAV
- We will launch one final version in June 2022.
- We will phase out the support for old VPS versions with targeting at reaching our end of “Dynamics NAV support” by the end of 2024 (taking into account that the VPS is the add-in that is used by most of our customers).
- We will phase out the sale of the VPS .NET for Dynamics NAV (stopping it one year before we stop the support).
Visual Jobs Scheduler (VJS) for Dynamics NAV
- We will not launch any new version (version 1.4 is the latest release).
- We will phase out the support for old VJS versions with targeting at reaching our end of “Dynamics NAV support” by the end of 2023 (taking into account that the VJS is our second most used add-in).
- We will phase out the sale of the VJS .NET for Dynamics NAV (stopping it end of March 2022).
Visual Service Scheduler (VSS) for Dynamics NAV
- We will not launch any new version (version 1.3 is the latest release).
- We will phase out the support for old VSS versions with targeting at reaching our end of “Dynamics NAV support” by the end of 2022 (taking into account that the VSS is the by far least used of our add-ins).
- We will phase out the sale of the VSS .NET for Dynamics NAV (stopping it end of March 2022).
The tables below show the result of this definition and the resulting end dates for our product development, the sales period, and the support. To learn more about these product lifecycle milestones, please visit our lifecycle policy page.