Once upon a time, you just purchased your software outright and it was yours to keep forever. Now many software vendors such as Microsoft and Adobe are offering you the opportunity to rent your software on a monthly subscription. Some software such has the latest version of Adobe Photoshop has now become subscription only. While this new way of purchasing software can work well for some businesses, many businesses may actually work out worse off, lets discuss some of the pros and cons:
- Your software will always remain current – You will constantly have the latest version available to you within the monthly cost that you’re paying. Businesses that renew their software regularly and have to have the latest version will usually be much better off.
- Ability to add and remove licences – Licences can be added or removed on a monthly basis, if you business is expanding or you are not to sure if you will have the need for the software in a few months time then this can be a fantastic option.
- Cash Flow – With no hefty up front cost, the subscription model is much better for cash flow or businesses that can’t afford the upfront cost of some software.
- Not every one needs to upgrade – Many companies don’t actually upgrade their software that regularly, if you only upgrade your software every 4-5 years then you are financially a lot worse off with the subscription model. Some companies just simply don’t need the latest version, or can’t be bothered with the hassle of upgrading and the change involved.
- Payment Issues – Many software vendors cut you off pretty quickly if they fail to collect payment, meaning that you are left unable to access your files.
- Internet goes down – Most subscription software is reliant upon connecting back to the software vendors server to check your licence and subscription is still valid, if for what ever reason your computer is offline for a period of time you may well find that your software will stop working.
Subscription software is not necessarily better than licensed software, and vice versa. The benefits of the subscription model have been laid out by companies such as Adobe and Microsoft; one of the main differences is how quickly each company is moving toward this model. But pitfalls also exist, and they can snare users who don’t think ahead with regard to what precisely they’re signing up for when they go the subscription route. Again, however, that doesn’t mean we should shun subscription software, but in every area of life, we must weigh more than just the monetary cost and the shiny new features when making individual and business decisions.