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SPSS: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
By Patrick McLeod, Research and Statistical Support Services Consultant
As many of the members of our university community know, there have been some recent changes in support for SPSS for Windows at the University of North Texas. How did we get here? Where are we now? Where are we going? I hope to answer all these questions (and more!) in the following article, available exclusively at Benchmarks Online.
How did we get here?
SPSS has a long history at UNT, as it does at many institutions of higher education. Before my time in Academic Computing Services, SPSS was run from the academic mainframe. As mainframe terminals gave way to desktop computers, SPSS was also provided as a desktop application. In my time in Academic Computing Services, we’ve seen SPSS versions 11.5, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 for Windows and SPSS versions 13 and 16 for Mac. Until the middle of last year, we were receiving requests for support for all of those versions of SPSS and we were handling them as best we could with a high degree of success.
The short story is that SPSS changed their support policy to move more or less in unison with the current version of SPSS for Windows and SPSS for Mac. This current SPSS support policy offers active support for the most current version of SPSS and the version immediately prior to the most current version. In the case of SPSS for Windows, the most current version is SPSS 16, so the currently supported versions of SPSS for Windows are SPSS 16 and SPSS 15. In the case of SPSS for Mac, the most current version is SPSS 16, so the currently supported versions of SPSS for Mac are SPSS 16 and SPSS 13. Note here that the Mac versions do not follow the same released pattern as the Windows versions; SPSS 13 for Mac was the prior release to SPSS 16 for Mac. SPSS 13 for Mac only worked with PowerPC based Macs, not with Intel based Macs. SPSS 16 for Mac works with both types of processors.
Where are we now?
The SPSS support policy leaves us in a bit of a pickle here at UNT. We have a substantial number of SPSS 14 for Windows local installations (installations that are licensed locally on the machine) and network installations (installations that are licensed from our ACS license server). As of April 1, 2008, SPSS will discontinue all support of SPSS 14. We do not feel that this will be a significant issue for support for SPSS 14 at UNT because we have the most current possible authorization codes (for individual installations) and the most current possible license code running on our license server. Both of these codes will license SPSS through the end of May 2008. We currently have both SPSS 15 for Windows and SPSS 16 for Windows available for local installations and SPSS 15 for Windows is available to be licensed from our ACS license server as a network installation.
The most immediate change is that everyone will need to make plans to migrate to either SPSS 15 for Windows or SPSS 16 for Windows on or before the end of May 2008. My preference would be to get everyone from network managers to lab managers to professors up to SPSS 16 for Windows by the end of May 2008. Bringing everyone up to SPSS 16 would greatly streamline our SPSS support workload, but more importantly for all of us, it will give the campus research and instruction communities the greatest amount of time between May 2008 and when we will need to upgrade again whereas upgrading to SPSS 15 will not provide as much “stable production” time since it is the prior version being supported instead of the current version being supported.
I know that this is a lot easier to write about than to plan and implement. I will be beginning communication with Network Managers via the NETMAN email list later this month to gather information and begin establishing a plan for getting all of us up to SPSS 16 in as orderly and timely a manner as possible.