Monthly Subscription = New Monthly Content

As new versions of software come out, some vendors are moving to make software a subscription or “software as a service”, as Microsoft calls it. While this works for other kinds of products, I don’t believe software needs to be or even should be, a monthly subscription.

The first supportive argument is that subscriptions allows software developers a steady stream of income so they can continue to develop their product.

I disagree.

In a nutshell, if I’m paying monthly for software, I expect new features to be added monthly. Not just minor bug fixes, but new, enhanced features regularly folded in.

This would negate the idea of, our next version will have the big feature advancement you’re looking for. My expectation is a continuous development cycle, where each month the software is better than the month before. I should pay you to keep the status quo for a year?

The way Microsoft handles things, as soon as you stop paying, the software stops working. I’m not on board with that. That’s not a subscription, that’s ransom.

In other cases, developers force users into some “Cloud” service to sync to their mobile devices. I’ve paid for your program, now I have to pay to access my data? Absolutely not.

I pay for software based on how it works today, whereas I feel subscriptions are the promise of software features for the future.

Another trend is major releases on a scheduled yearly cycle, which makes software disposable. Why buy this release when in 12 months you’ll be asking for more money? You are already admitting this software will be obsolete in a few months and you have no intention of supporting the current. What kind of relationship does that build between us?

I prefer Lifetime licenses over subscriptions. I would rather pay more for a program I use regularly knowing that future updates will be free. I recently did this for RightNote.

Another software problem is restrictive licensing. I’m sure most people have multiple home machines, so a 3 user license should be the norm, rather than the single license, which is outdated.

Steam and iTunes handle this is a pretty good way. I can install what I buy on any machine I use. I just can’t use two copies at the same time. Simple.

Software is a fickle thing. We want fantastic, feature right software at dirt cheap prices. Despite how it’s presented, the subscription model doesn’t offer that. It’s an interesting idea for products that (needlessly) cost thousands of dollars or that need to be shared by dozens of employees at the same time. However, it has no place for home users.

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