PTC’s Will Kohler knows just about everything about PTC Windchill. His official title is Senior Vice President of Product Management, but many customers know him as a long-time PTC Windchill product manager.
I recently asked him about the feedback he’s hearing as customers upgrade to PTC Windchill 10, as well as the benefits of upgrading to PTC Windchill 10.2 and what we can expect in future releases.
How many PTC customers have moved to PTC Windchill 10?
Will Kohler: The vast majority of our customers are on Windchill 10.0 or later. It’s in the 80-90% range, so we’ve seen great adoption.
What is some of the feedback you’ve been getting on PTC Windchill 10?
Kohler: Customers really like the improved user experience. What we’ve heard is that it is a lot easier to use, more intuitive, and more flexible. There’s a better display, better navigation, and it’s more responsive so it feels faster. Keep in mind that with the PTC Windchill 10 change in the user experience, we went to a technology that relies more on the browser itself. As a result, acceptance and adoption of Windchill 10 improves significantly if the customer uses a newer or more modern browser.
If I’m already on PTC Windchill 10, or PTC Windchill 10.1, how difficult is the upgrade to PTC Windchill 10.2?
Kohler: Over the last few releases of PTC Windchill, we have invested a lot in improving the upgrade tools. Upgrading to PTC Windchill 10.0 was a lot easier than previous upgrades. Going from 10.0 to 10.1 was very straightforward. It does not require any data migration, so we call that an “update.” Moving to 10.2, however, is an “upgrade,” meaning there is some data migration and the upgrade manager runs in the background. But it is a very straightforward upgrade. With the improved upgrade tools, customers say that it’s the easiest upgrade that they have ever performed.
Can you tell me about the new maintenance release model that PTC is now using for PTC Windchill?
Kohler: With Windchill 10.2, we introduced a change in the support model for PTC Windchill.
It used to be that the primary way that we fixed bugs was through a new maintenance release. Or, if a new maintenance release wasn’t coming fast enough, we provided customers with a one-off temp patch. With that temporary patch model, we saw a proliferation of unique environments in our customer base, making it very difficult for us to ensure high quality and consistency. So with PTC Windchill 10.2 we adopted a cumulative critical patch set support model, which is much more of an industry-standard best practice.
Starting with PTC Windchill 10.2, each release is supported with a series of critical patch sets. After the initial release, we will introduce a cumulative critical patch set every 30 days. Because they are cumulative, you don’t need to take every single patch set. You can skip some if you like. They’re the same for all customers, and they’re all validated and certified for all PTC Windchill platforms. This is more efficient and allows us to provide better quality service.
Brian Shepherd, EVP at PTC, discusses the highlights of PTC Windchill 10.20.
What release do I want to use to be sure I continue to get bug fixes?
Kohler: If you want long-term bug fix support, you need to be on PTC Windchill 10.2 M020, or PTC Windchill 10.2 M030 once that comes out in February 2015. Both these releases will have long-term CPS support.
What new functionality can users expect in the future?
Kohler: We are actively working on unifying the PTC Windchill search with the PTC Windchill classification search. This means joining the advanced search experience, which is the typical experience for searching on attributes and full text information, with what’s called the classification search. Classification search allows you to search through a classification hierarchy of a particular part. For example, if you want to find all fasteners that are of a certain pitch, you can navigate through to fasteners, thread type, and find them all.
We’re also introducing faceted filtering in the search results. This is similar to a lot of ecommerce sites where, after you do an initial search, you get the result set and on the left-hand panel there is additional criteria, or facets, that let you further filter the results. It’s going to unlock lots of potential for our customers because it saves time and promotes re-use.
Any more hints about upcoming releases?
Kohler: We’ve got a nice list of productivity improvements that we’re working on that will improve the PTC Windchill homepage, for example, by introducing things like quick actions. From the homepage it will be a lot easier to invoke your most commonly used commands. We want those quick actions to be configurable by customers. We’re also getting rid of the remaining applets in PTC Windchill which will improve performance. Customers can expect to see an acceleration of the conversion of applets to HTML starting with PTC Windchill 10.2 M030. People have complained about the applets for a while, so I think it will be well received.
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