A reply from SPSS Inc.

SPSS Inc. replied to my open letter on the poor quality of SPSS 16 for Mac:

Dear Bertolt:

I want to acknowledge your email/blog and apologize for the inconveniences caused by SPSS 16.0 for Mac. Your bugs, issues and suggestions have been logged and we will work on fixing them in future releases.

We are getting ready to start beta testing SPSS 17.0 for all three platforms -- Windows, Mac and Linux -- in a couple months. Would you like to participate? We would love to have your input. Beta testers get a free copy of the final software.


Arik J. Pelkey
Sr. Product Manager
Phone: [deleted]


I do acknowledge the friendly mail and the fact that they didn't try to reason or to justify certain issues. However, note that they apologize for the inconvenience SPSS caused, but not for the bugs, i.e. for the quality of their software. That may sound like splitting hairs, but to me, it's a difference. Why can companies never ever say something like: "We know we screwed up big time. We're sorry." Why does it always have to be some sort of marketing speech? Anyways, I do appreciate their invitation to their beta program which I am going to accept (criticism should always be constructive, eh?).

However, I also suggested two steps on SPSS's part in my reply: Firstly, SPSS should publicly acknowledge certain issues with SPSS 16 for Mac. Secondly, I urge SPSS to review their internal processes for software testing. A more rigorous product testing would have saved them and me a lot of time and nerves.

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Blogger matown said...

Once you have spss 16 on a Intel mac you can no longer atach a sav (spss 16 sav and spss 11 and spss 10 savs) file to your mail, not in eudora, not in safari not in mac mail not in firefox; all e-mail programs crash, or even the mac crashes.
Spss is aware of the problem and says: zip your files.
Spss 11 will not work the way it used to do after installing version 16.
Spss 16 crashes if the output gets large.
Then uninstall spss 16, the uninstaller does half work because you cannot reinstall spss 16 because it is already installed (???!).
It is crap.
You have to manually throw away some files.
And even then, Spss 11 stays unreliable (Email was ok)
And now they will not ditribute licences for spss 11 the only version that works well on intel mac.
And indeed, R is much better (f.i. have you seen bootstrapping in R: great), but, unfortunately, not the standard here.

2:02 PM  
Blogger nosila said...

I have exactly the same problem. Of all the issues logged in various places why is this serious email/file attachment issue not mentioned. As a PhD student - not new to SPSS - not being able to send files to my supervisor and folk in the research team is fundamental to my/our work.
So SPSS knows yet their 'support' techs have failed to respond to me with this query.
Crap is certainly a word that comes to mind. Pls let me know if you hear anything.

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Jason said...

SPSS is such a joke. When normal software companies fix their bugs through patches and updates, SPSS instead makes the updates and bug fixes a NEW VERSION! Wow, do we really need a version 17? Do we really need to pay another $600 just to fix the bugs they introduce in their software? Why is SPSS 16 so slow? Cos it's programmed in JAVA! Why JAVA, cos then the software will work across all platforms -- equally slowly! All the problems you've listed are not present on only the Mac version, but the PC version as well (because they use the same JAVA code). I have uninstalled SPSS 16 and reinstall version 15 on mine. Seriously, what other software companies make a new version every single year? Oh wait, I know, Endnote! What great company to be in with!

9:02 AM  
Anonymous institutional researcher said...

I have been a user and supporter of SPSS for many years. In the past I have found that the new versions generally did provide enhanced functionality and/or usability. Version 16 though is a HUGE step backward in my opinion. I see many of these same problems in the PC version of SPSS 16. I agree that one of the most frustrating aspects is the incredible slowness of any process. Even just running a frequency distribution on fewer than 1000 cases takes noticeable time. Our office (at a college) unfortunately did not renew the license for version 15 so we are stuck using version 16 if we want to use SPSS. Administration have been trying to get us to use SAS for some time and I have argued that SPSS works a as well or better in most situations we encounter, but SPSS 16 is the best argument for using SAS that I have seen so far.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

Not sure if you are still monitoring this but SPSS 16 is the worst product I have ever come across - it does seem to liven up the office though with the heart stopping moments you think everything has gone wrong, then you realise actually its just v16.
I am also using a PC with Windows XP and still have a a whole load of problems, I will mention below.
What is also great is that you can no longer buy SPSS 14 (the last useable version) licenses!
So heres problems I have had:
1) If you want to copy a variable list out, it simply doesnt work, it does about 11 variables (11, why 11?) and then everything else is blank.
2) Copying data out - again it may look like its copied but you just get random bits of blank or ? down the middle.
3) Deleting variables or moving variables just takes for ever - why reduce the scroll speed? and the auto jump to top is soo annoying!
4) Deleting more than a 1000 rows of data, simply is not something you can do with out a spare hour!
5) Frequency - this one is the real highlight - they are randomly wrong! Your checking down your data -everything is as it should be...then suddenly a number is totally random! So after your small heart atack and you check the raw data you realsie everything is fine and its just the frequency is orng (this has casued arguments with client's when our runs correctly and theirs doesnt!)
6) Adjusting the idth of variables (on the sreen) no longer works on more than 1 variable!

right rant over....I wonder if they made 17 even worse?

11:22 PM  
Anonymous lgeorge said...

In case matown & nosilla are tracking this - try dragging & dropping your .sav file into the email message. that worked for me; suggested by someone on the spss discussion listserv.

I'm planning to learn R when I get a chance. In the meanwhile I'm back to spss on the PC (& wondering if there's any way to get my $s back for the grad student version...)

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Jan-Willem said...

I learnt to work and do research with SPSS when they just added the 'X' and the big news was that you could also run it on a PC. Somewhere in the end of the eighties. SPSS was sacred in those days. Perfect. No bugs at all.

But since then a lot has changed. Java in itself is not a bad choice. There are a number of good Java programs out there, and it is a solid language that produces highly reliable code. Most of serious internet applications are running on Java.

Frankly I believe they are just making money with the plain old statistical package and this is the price we all have to pay because we haven't been looking to alternatives for a long time.

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SPSS 16 is crap!!! it crashes if you try to run 10 regressions by syntax.

2:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ergently need your help!
Dear You,
I notice that in SPSS version 17.0 for Mac, there is no function as "Table of frequency", which I had used in other old version very efficiently. Because I can run "Table of frequency" for single variables, and it can also be grouped by a second variable. Now, how I should do that? I have tried many times in crosstabs, it doesn't group several variables by a single variable. I have tried the construct a new table function, it doesn't work either! What's the reason you guys delete the convenient functions and make your users in an even more difficult situation? How can you let your users like your new version of your SPSS, it is only for earning money by issuing new version?

An angry user of your SPSS

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another dissatisfied SPSS 16 user on the Mac. Mine simply doesn't display the menu bar on Snow Leopard. I could get it started restoring the JVM 1.5 besides JVM 1.6, but no menu bar whatsoever.

7:36 AM  
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2:25 PM  
Anonymous Cubytus said...

To all of those trying (and failing) to use SPSS 16 on Snow Leopard, which is still in wide use because of the stratospheric price for a site licence, don't bother trying.

SPSS 16, surprisingly, is actually usable on an up-to-date OS. I could install it in an Ubuntu 9.10 virtual machine, along with PSPP.

Technically, I set up a VirtualBox virtual machine, added the Guest Additions, automatically mounted the shared folders, and got a working, albeit very ugly, copy of SPSS 16. No need to leave Mac OS X here.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a much easier fix. The problem is due to codes in the file that the Finder's browser cannot read. Change the browser's format from column to table (so that it doesn't try to read the file type but merely lists it) and it should work fine.

3:36 PM  
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