Opinion: For whom Tektronix' licensing model makes sense

February 25, 2014 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Opinion: For whom Tektronix' licensing model makes sense
The licensing model of Tektronix' new MDO3000 oscilloscope takes some getting used to. Nevertheless it makes live easier for many engineers - but not for all.

So far, this licensing model is unusual in the measurement instruments market. After all, it is something like buying a Ferrari at the price of a Volkswagen - only that you cannot switch to the second gear unless you pay extra. I can imagine that some users are not happy with the imagination that there is a very powerful instrument sitting on their bench but they are prevented from utilising its full potential. On the other hand, everybody who owns a computer (hence all of us) is familiar to upgrade models for software. It might be unusual to transplant this model to the measurement instrument domain but it is not at all revolutionary. This model simply reflects the fact that today software determines at a large extend the functionality and performance of a complex instrument.

The option to upgrade the instrument across multiple stages from entry level to its maximum configuration is owed to the observation the average working life of an oscilloscope in most cases is much longer than the design cycles - while an embedded design typically occupies an engineer a year or less, the scope lives on for about six to seven years. And since today's embedded designs get more complex from generation to generation and require more sophisticated instrumentation, a user quickly finds himself in the situation that his good old scope does no longer keeps up with his needs. A field-upgradeable instrument is already a good thing to have in such a situation, and if the upgrade can be done as easily as in the case at hand - just by acquiring the respective dongle - it is a practical contribution to ease designer's life. Only for users who do not need upgradeability at all this option is useless, but this is certainly a small minority among electronics designers

However, the dongle approach could prove to be the Achilles heel of Tektronix' concept. While the

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