If you are considering Agilent oscilloscope software licenses, on April 1st 2014, Agilent is apparently offering all available software unlock keys bundled as DSOX2APPBNDL. For instance, an MSO-X 2024A can be upgraded, with all serial decode licenses (and mask limit testing, segmented memory, waveform generator, more memory, etc.), for the price of a single serial decode license. Hopefully this is not an April Fool’s Day prank.
Before the current 2000 series is retired, I do hope features that currently differentiate the 2000 and 3000 series, which are simply software features, are added to the 2000 series. Agilent has a history of this. Originally, the 2000 series memory could not be upgraded, nor were serial decode options available. Thankfully, Agilent at least left open the option by leaving the Serial button on the 2000 series panel. A few years later, activating it. Now competition from Tektronix and Rigol is increasing.
While it’s nice to see the feature list of the scope grow over time, as features are unlocked, it is a bit frustrating to know those options were available in the hardware the whole time, but intentionally crippled. Nothing new of course. Those who purchased the software unlock keys originally at full price, or those who purchased a higher end scope to get the feature that is later released in the 2000 may be irritated as well.
How does the bundling and big discounting impact resale value? Originally, a scope with a software option unlocked may have demanded a decent premium. Unlike the hardware, the software does not wear out or require re-calibration. However, be releasing all the software unlock keys in a relatively inexpensive bundle, the premiums created by installed software are destroyed. However, the longevity of all the related scopes increase, because they continue to compete with newer scopes, and thus the scopes may actually hold their value longer. Software upgraded hardware may be create interesting market dynamics.
Seemingly, all products with upgradable firmware, if you look around on the web you can find firmware hacks. The Agilent scope hacks appear very simple for v2.35. One alters a single text file to change passed command line options. While another changes a few consecutive bytes in a .cab file. While the software licenses are obviously not priced to appeal to a hobbyist, doing these hacks on a scope under warranty may cause problems, perhaps during repair, calibration, or subsequent firmware upgrades.