Will We Soon Have to Rent Computer Software?

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When you purchase a DVD or a paperback book, there’s little question you own it.

It’s a physical thing in your home. You can hold it in your hands. Definitely yours.

But with digital, the ownership question gets a little murkier. E-books and iTunes singles are treated more like long-term, licensed rentals. It seems like some computer programs are moving in that direction too.

Microsoft, for instance, now wants you to pay $100 a year for its Office suite of programs. You still have the option for buying it for $140, which is less expensive in the long run.

Adobe has gone a step further: It now requires users of Photoshop to pay $30 a month or $240 a year for the latest version. For the whole suite of design software, it’s $600 a year. For people who didn’t use many of its programs or didn’t upgrade versions often, this is a steep price increase. The New York Times did the math:

If you use only one or two programs, you’ll pay much more by renting — especially if you were in the habit of upgrading only every other year, for example. Here’s the math: Photoshop CC alone will cost $240 a year. In the old days, buying the annual upgrade cost $200, and you didn’t have to upgrade every year. In three years, you might have spent $200 or $400; now you’ll pay $720.

Even though costs are unavoidably multiplying for such people, maybe it’s not all downside. New features will come as they’re developed, rather than in annual updates, and there are other perks that didn’t come with the purchased version.

The scary part, though, is that Photoshop is an industry standard for design professionals. Although there are free or cheaper alternatives, its tools and file formats are widely used. By requiring a subscription, “the 800-pound gorilla of the creative world has become the 1,600-pound gorilla,” the Times says.

If other major companies decided you had to pay regularly to use their software, would you? Is it fair to require people to pay continuously to acquire new features, or should we be allowed to stop paying if we like what we have? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

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  • D Lowrey

    Very easy solution for this situation…Open Source. For instance…haven’t used Office in over 10 years. I have used Open Office and now LibreOffice for my uses. Can’t afford the Adobe software…you can use Gimp for images…Audacity for audio and FoxIt Reader to handle PDF’s. Eventually…there will be open source solutions for more and more of this corporate BS to maximize profits. Once people realize these alternatives are available…bye-bye to their profits and they may get some intelligence back before going under.

    • disqus_4sJ2y80lK2

      thank you D Lowrey for sharing this info, We all need to help each other, the corporate money mongers certainly don’t and never will.

  • Sally Schrock

    I am not happy about Adobe’s move towards “renting” Photoshop and other programs on a monthly basis and would much rather buy the physical upgrade to my CS3 Web Professional Suite and be done with it. BAD MOVE, Adobe!

  • RodrigoDiazLinux

    Wait a minute…! I understand shelling out money for photoshop if I were a professional but paying for Microsoft Office?? What kind of sucker is that who pays for that? Nobody will see the difference if you used LibreOffice, Google Docs or some other free open source software. Yes, there are some “features” on MS office that LibreOffice doesn’t have but it’s surely not worth paying for it. I’m a strong believer in capatlism and go always after the best value. So, $0 versus $140 is a no-brainer for me. Long live open source! However, I still use Windows simply my PC came pre-installed with that crap. However, if I were to buy a new PC without OS, I wouldn’t buy any Windows installation CD. Ubuntuy would suit my needs totally. Of course, there are people who prefer Windows and I won’t argue with them if they waste money or want to donate money to a company that provides lousy customer service, bloat- and spyware. No thanks!