Xi Graphics has a philosophy about SW maintenance of its SW. First, the SW should be (basically) bug-free. This means good clean architecture, design, implementation, and thorough testing.
Next, since stuff happens, the SW developers have to do the support work when it does. They hate that, since it is more fun developing new things. So, they have an added incentive to make it good the first time.
To insure Management is in tune with this philosophy up and down the line, the Company does not charge for maintenance support of its SW, at least the normal kind of maintenance. This eliminates the urge to ship poor SW and try to make money on service.
Such things as updating to a newer kernel in a OS series (e.g., Solaris, Linux, AIX) are usually done without charge. Even new monitors that have new resolutions are usually accommodated without charge, unless the change of monitors also requires the customer use a dfferent Summit Series or Edition.
This free maintenance support is actually not free, since Xi Graphics charges a license fee for each computer on which its SW is used (without a demo license). And the license fee varies with the complexity of the SW. So, actually we do get some money for support, in that sense.
However, since we provide it without extra charge over the license fee, we have an incentive to have very stable, bug-free SW starting with the first release. We get very few bug reports, and each one is a little "loss of face" since we emphasize how good and stable our SW is.
And we have not - to our collective knowledge - had a customer drop us because our SW was of poor quality, or our maintenance was lacking. Our customers expect our SW to work "out-of-the-box", but know that if something is wrong, there is someone to contact, and that someone will take card of them. - pronto.
Maybe that's why we have such long-term customers?
Besides, who wants to spend time negotiating a service contract each year, and then trying to figure out if all of the points, or instances, or whatever, are used up? Or have the customer not need to use his service contract for the whole year? The second negotiation would be interesting.
Some Limitations Apply
There are also other limits. Even though upgrades to OSs that we support in the main product lines (Solaris v9 to v10 for example) are provided for free (and the existing licenses will work on the newer version), we reserve the right to schedule the work on such upgrades. Expediting that schedule usually will entail an expediting charge.
One could reasonably argue that such upgrades are new development, and not maintenance. True, but if it is part of our "normal" mainstream product offering, the cost of the work should be on our side, we figure. It is the out-of-the-mainstream, special stuff, or "we gotta have it now" instances that usually will raise a charge.