There is a very good chance that history will judge my last article as somewhat wayward. And I would be forced to agree because it started out as a guide to cloud based services and ended as something of a rant against Microsoft and Office 365.
This article, I hope, will go a long way to clarify my thoughts on a subject I had only just tickled under the chin in my previous article; namely subscription based software and what it means to the average home user.
In 2008 (I believe) Apple introduced the concept of downloading applications directly rather buying them on CD and installing them yourself. When the Mac App store was integrated into the operating system Mac users could search for and download a select number of applications that would automatically install and dump themselves in your Applications folder. It was neat, simple and straight forward but it relied heavily on a strong and generous internet connection.
Since then a number of companies have hopped on this bandwagon but leave it to Adobe to take it too far. Earlier this year they announced that all CS products (Photoshop, Illustrator and so on) were to be offered as a download only. OK, thats cool. But then they added that this software was subscription based only, meaning that after downloading you have to pay a fee every year FOREVER or the product will stop working.
On the surface this seems like a bad deal but in reality is works out much the same as if the product was purchased in the box at the full price.
I cannot recall how much CS6 (the last boxed version) was but my educated guess is $3000 for the entire suite of products. Not an insignificant amount in anyone’s book and so people who bought it tended not to upgrade it just because a new version came out. There had to be a good reason. For this reason a copy would last five maybe six years and so the monthly cost, in reality, would be something like $50. This is very close to the rental cost being proposed by Adobe with the added benefit of being to upgrade to the latest version at anytime.
So far, so good.
This model also punishes Photoshop Elements , a software package designed specially for the hobby photographer. I have had my copy since 2006 and it cost me $138.00 (that’s $1.60 a month)
Thankfully there are alternatives to Photoshop and Elements, one of which is GIMP. I suggest you check it out or upgrade your copy of Elements as soon as possible before the Subscription bus comes crashing through your door.
The latest kid on the block to offer subscription based software is Microsoft but thankfully they aren’t being hard nosed about it and under the right circumstances this is a pretty good deal.
Office365 offers you 5 copies of Office for $15.00 a month. This represents extraordinary value for money if you actually want 5 copies. Most householders only use or want one copy but Government departments and businesses will love this.
If a home owner went and bought 5 copies in the box today it would cost them $ 849.75 and if they kept that version of 5 years that would be a monthly cost of $ 14.00. An Office365 subscription for the same product is $ 9.90 a month.
Bought in the box:
1 copy is $ 169.95 or $2.83 a month for 5 years
2 copies is $339.95 or $5.66 a month for 5 years
5 copies like it or lump it is $119.00 a year which is a total spend of $595.00 or $9.95 a month for 5 years.
Forgive me if I seem picky about this but I just want to make the point that a subscription based service isn’t always the right way to go, especially in home environment and especially when you consider how most people use their software at home.
But thankfully Microsoft are aware of this and will, at least into the foreseeable future, offer pay once copies – in the box- like they always have.