act 2012I have a page on my website that offers free software for the old ACT! 6 product.  Unfortunately,  ACT! 2006 users frequently try to download and install those freebies and find that they don’t work.  Let me make this abundantly clear – ACT! 6 and ACT! 2006 are not the same product.

If you’re not yet confused, let me try harder.  Potential clients will call with questions on “ACT! 8” when they actually need help with “ACT! 2008.” And no, ACT! 8 is not the same thing as ACT! 2008.

Let me try to clear things up a bit.  Once upon a time life was simpler and the very first version of ACT! introduced in 1987 was called “ACT! 1.”  Subsequent versions of ACT! were labeled ACT! 2, ACT! 3, and so on until ACT! 5 when things got a bit complicated.  By this time Symantec owned ACT! and converted to the naming conventions adopted by Microsoft; ACT! 5 was also known as ACT! 2000.   InterACT Commerce repurchased ACT! from Symantec  and rebranded ACT! 5/2000 as ACT! 5/2000 but shipped it out in a totally redesigned box.

ACT! 6 came out in 2002 and remained relatively unchanged for nearly 4 years.  I say relatively because although ACT! 6 didn’t change, the labeling did and ACT! 6 became known as ACT! 2002, 2003 and 2004.  Confused?  So were the folks who had ACT! 6/2002 and upgraded to ACT! 2004 only to find that they had purchased the same product they already had.

Fortunately for the consumer things calmed down a bit, but only a bit.  When Sage Software purchased ACT! in 2004 they were not allowed to use the name “Sage” in the United States because of a naming dispute with another company in Texas.  Therefore, ACT! was officially “owned” by Best Software – at least until Sage prevailed in a court case and could start using the name Sage.  Today ACT! is officially owned by Sage Software.  However, many consumers still think ACT! is a Symantec product although Symantec only owned ACT! for five of its twenty-five years in existence.

I usually tell ACT! users to “add 2” to their ACT! product to find the true version they are using so ACT! 2011 is version 13 and ACT! 2012 is version 14.

Speaking of names, I’m often asked what the name ACT! stands for.  And no, it doesn’t stand for American College Testing, another source of confusion.  Although many people think ACT! stands for Activities, Contacts, and Time, the name originally reflected ACT!’s very first owner, Activity Control Technology.  Rumor has it that the owners later changed the acronym to “Automated Contact Tracking.”

As our pal Bill Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?”