From:        	David Harris 
Date:        	Mon, 29 Nov 1999 16:55:35 +1300
To:           	PM-NEWS@BAMA.UA.EDU
Subject:     	Time to work out the future

We're approaching the dreaded millenium, and with it, a much smaller milestone, but one that is important to me: in February, Pegasus Mail will celebrate its tenth birthday.

I've been working on Pegasus Mail for ten years now; I have no regrets at all about having spent that much time and effort on the program and its companion products, and I still enjoy doing it.

But the Internet has moved on, and I now find myself wondering whether there is still any place for products like Pegasus Mail, based as it is on ideals that have probably been superseded. Like all e-mail developers I suspect, in the last two years I have seen a veritable cavalcade of my long-term users dropping Pegasus Mail like a hot brick and moving to Microsoft Outlook/Exchange. I am sure that there is a variety of perfectly good reasons for this move away, and I am not particularly bitter about it - although I have to admit that it hurts terribly every time I see it happen.

With the migration of users has come a matching drop in income. Money has never been the primary motivation for making Pegasus Mail available, and I don't think anyone could say that I've ever been greedy.
But the fact remains that there are significant costs involved in supporting a program like this, and they have to be met from some place. With enormous reluctance, I sent out a plea for help in 1998, which was met with considerable support. I found myself forced to do much the same thing a few months ago and had a much smaller response. I had hoped that my suggestion of a "support consortium" would yield enough interested parties that I could ensure the ongoing survival of the system, but I only received about a third of the interest I needed. In my experience, people tend to "vote with their pocketbooks", and I therefore have to assume that the downturn in financial support indicates a general loss of faith or interest in the program.

So, from where I'm sitting, it looks like the writing is on the wall, and I'd be a fool if I didn't read it. I have *no desire* to stop working on Pegasus Mail and Mercury, but if there is no support for them, then I really have to question the value of persevering. I had hoped to outlast some of my competitors and not be the first to be trampled underfoot by the Microsoft Monster, but right now I'm not holding my breath.

So, what do I do? Do I simply accept that Microsoft's total domination of the industry is inevitable and that I am an equally inevitable casualty of that? Or do I carry on, content that I am still serving a significant core of users well and effectively? In the end, only my users can decide which it will be.

In order to feel confident about the future of Pegasus Mail, and to feel that I can commit to another ten years of supporting it, I need a core element of financial support from my userbase. What I am looking for is one hundred or more sites who are willing to pay an annual subscription for technical support and manuals. With this level of committed support behind me, I will be able to continue working on the system, but if I can't get this much support going (since it doesn't seem like a very big ask to me), then I'm afraid the future is grey.

It's in your hands now. I really, really don't want to stop doing the work, but if I'm no longer needed, I have to start thinking about what I can do with my own future, in a world without Pegasus Mail.


-- David --

------------------ David Harris -+- Pegasus Mail ----------------------
  Box 5451, Dunedin, New Zealand | e-mail:
           Phone: +64 3 453-6880 | Fax: +64 3 453-6612

Quote for the day:
   The most important thing in acting is being able to laugh and
   cry. If I have to cry, I think of my sex life. If I have to
   laugh, I think of my sex life.      -- Glenda Jackson.

This page is last updated 29-Nov-99.
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