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More & More Software Vendors Moving To Annual Subscriptions

There was a time – oh yes, I remember it well – when we paid once for a Premium program and we then owned it. Have you noticed that these days, more and more software vendors are moving to an annual subscription model where we never actually own the software but rather lease it on an annual basis?

I own a copy of Snagit 12, the professional screenshot capture tool, which I purchased many years ago for a one-time payment. It still works fine today, still does everything I need. Similarly, I own a copy of Ashampoo Burning Studio 18 which I purchased around five years ago for a one-time payment. It does everything I need or could ever need.

Now, I can appreciate and understand an annual subscription model where ongoing development is essential, such as with antivirus software, for example, which is required to keep pace with new and emerging threats. However, in many cases, the software is already optimal and fit for purpose with zero ongoing development required.

CCleaner Pro Pricing

Take CCleaner as a prime example, a program that updates with regular monotony. The areas where junk files accumulate are well known and not subject to change. Are you fixing things that should have been correct in the first place?

What I say is, if the software wasn’t optimal when you sold it to me at full price then you shouldn’t have charged me the full price in the first place, should you? CCleaner Pro is currently selling for $29.95US per annum which means that after 10 years the user will have paid around $300.00US for a basic junk file cleaner – and that’s provided the annual subscription does not increase during that time. Yeah, sure. Haha.

Needless to say, I NEVER buy software that requires annual subscriptions. I will pay good money for a good program but only if I can buy it with a one-time payment. And that, my friends, is becoming ever more difficult to find.

End of rant.

14 thoughts on “More & More Software Vendors Moving To Annual Subscriptions”

  1. Like you, Jim, I prefer to own. Have only exception which I get every 18 months (though they also sell them yearly) and that is KIS. Am fortunate that the bulk of my lifetime purchases have remained lifetime. Unfortunately, some vendors state their reference to lifetime updates are limited to a specific version number. That is a load of bull. These programs still work properly as far as I can tell, so I see no reason to upgrade and spill more blood in the process. Heck, there are Freeware programs which I use and sometimes show my appreciate by sending them a few bucks, Mindblower!

  2. Glad that you have brought up this subject which I have been complaining about for some time. Buy Now? yes, subscribe? F.O. I have also been watching the progress of this surge of ‘subscription service software’ with dismay for the last 2 or 3 years. Additionally, the software updates are more generally tweaks rather than upgrades. Even if it is a full-on upgrade, one may not require or want it. Its a developers scam to force customers to pay for the same (virtually) product every year. Like you, I decided not to buy any annual subscriptions. There are often freeware alternatives which may not be quite as competent (though some certainly are as good or better) and I always look for these.
    My grandmother has a nice phrase for this, ” your paying good money for old rope.”

    1. the software updates are more generally tweaks rather than upgrades

      So true. Or bug fixes which means the software was not 100% when purchased.

      My grandmother has a nice phrase for this, your paying good money for old rope.”

      Grandmothers are so wise. 🙂

    2. VEPHEUS, you might be totally correct that most of “the software updates are more generally tweaks rather than upgrades”. Have you considered that these tweaks might be due to the monthly operating system patches? Just another way to look at things, Mindblower!

      1. Rarely, if at all, do application developers need to update their software due to OS patches. As a former OS software developer, patches pretty much never change the APIs that applications use to access OS services, that is a big No-No for compatibility reasons.

      2. Mindblower, I have to agree with Peter that monthly OS patches would rarely have any effect on apps. I still believe this is a cynical ploy by developers to force customers to pay them regular subscriptions. It becomes a permanent revenue stream for the same product (more or less)

    1. I think sometimes it can be a good idea cost wise at least for the short term but it is good to own something and know it’s paid for and legally yours.

      I feel that people have complained about media e.g. music, films etc. But in general these can be bought digitally cheap but software can be very pricy which can force people to pirate. Sadly cracks are a great infections method.

      I’ve also seen software in the past that has an upgrade every year with possibly 1 or 2 new features but they redo the UI so it looks new but your basically paying for a lick of paint

  3. Only thing I have with a subscription is for the drivers.I have bought and paid one time for several pieces of software that do the job just fine. Example: I have a copy of “SketchUp 2016 Pro” that I use I can still get some of the newer ext3entions to work in it. My main gripe is the SU is now going into Version 2022 and most anything from the 3D warehouse that is 2017 or later I can’t download a copy of it. What a world, What a world.

  4. I couldn’t agree more! The only subscription I maintain for all the PCs in my household is for Vipre Advanced Security. Unfortunately, my wife who has been an Adobe user (Photoshop, Premere, etc..) for many years would be kind of screwed if we didn’t keep up a Creative Cloud subscription. However, I refuse to pay Adobe’s exorbitant prices, and with three kids in school (college and high school) we rotate through them using their school email to get a student rate of $20/month instead of their ridiculous $60/month full price. I still use Office 2010 on my PC because I will not subscribe to this either I could care less about all the cloud nonsense in their 365 product. Given the never-ending security breaches of so much data kept on us by major companies, I will never keep any of my personal information on a cloud server (i.e., someone else’s computers). I started in the computer field back in the 70s when mainframes and timesharing was the majority of computer use. It seems we have gone backwards in time.

  5. What these companies don’t realize is, that you lose a lot of potential sales by going to an annual cost that is usually 2-3 times greater than a monthly cost! The problem comes about that during these periods of high inflation, the “disposal income” (actual cash in the pocket) drops considerably! So that person that really wants/needs that software will choose NOT to purchase the software at all because they have a greater priority elsewhere for these funds.
    Usually, these software companies rarely spend a lot of company funds on marketing depts. that assist with these types of decisions (the 4 P’s of merchandising).

  6. Decided to share a list of programs to which I have a lifetime license.

    Those with an * at the end of their name, offer a yearly subscription, as well as a lifetime license. Those with an ! offer a free or lifetime license. The others only offer a free 30-day trial, then you must purchase them and the license is lifetime. Before purchasing the lifetime licence, I put the programs to extensive tests, making sure they were worth the cost.

    AdGuard *
    Mailwasher PRO *
    PhoneTray Pro !
    TeraCopy Pro !
    Wise Care 365 PRO !
    WinX HD converter
    Video Proc converter
    ZTree Win

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