I object to this move to a subscription-based model of software renting. Yes, I know it’s been coming for a number of years, and I hung dearly onto my copy of Adobe CS 5.5 for as long as I possibly could. But the tighter my grip, the more software slipped through my fingers… Inexorably, we are being shoved slowly forward into the pit of ownership despair. As my daughter would say, “I do not like.” First the major apps, then utilities, then plugins, where does it end? We’re not talking about a video streaming or music service. I usually held onto my copies of productivity software for a couple of years before upgrading and then happily shelled out the cash to upgrade them, having earned enough using them for the upgrades to pay for themselves. But now I feel I am always having to pay just to use them.
I can see the viability of game, music and video services that allow you to use their catalogs and the convenience of being able to select content at will without plunking down a credit card each time. I mean I’ve been a video collector from way back and even I can see the benefit of not owning all these CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays (my shelves are overstuffed). The only ones I tend to buy now are the old TV shows not on any streaming service (yet). So who are the culprits? Adobe, of course, one of if not the earliest, CleanMyMac by MacPaw, FileMaker, now Suitcase from Extensis and a whole gaggle of WordPress developers. If they are going to offer a subscription plan, for the love of Pete, offer a lifetime option. I have the lifetime option of the video service Plex and the WP theme builder Divi from ElegantThemes. And I don’t regret my purchases at all, I have seen continuous benefits from both investments.
In the case of WordPress plugins, I especially feel I am being forced to subscribe simply because the pace of upgrades happen so fast, it risks security and compatibility if I don’t keep up. You can elect not to subscribe in some cases and allow the initial purchase to lapse after one year, typically, but then you get the nagging reminder in WordPress/Wordfence that you have a plugin out of date and that looks like bad maintenance to a client.
I have resigned myself to the fact that subscription-based software is here to stay, but I don’t have to like it.
A longtime friend recently replied to this post, “open source.” Are there alternatives to the subscription paradigm? Yes, definitely (said the Magic 8 Ball). LibreOffice as a Microsoft Office alternative, Scribus as a page layout program and Avast! Free as an anti-virus application. Of course on the Mac, you have Pages, Numbers and Keynote. And many WordPress plugins have free (limited function) versions, which more often than not get the job done. But the time and energy spent researching and testing can sometimes be frustrating. And typically the open source apps are a little lacking in the polish department, have advertising (or both). Shareware is another alternative, too. For example I use GraphicConverter for much of my basic image work. Acorn is another option (And who doesn’t want to buy software from a company called Flying Meat?).