Software subscriptions (Ransom)

What do people think about the software subscription ransoms that are becoming so popular now? Who started it? MS with their Office Suite? Now Quicken and QuickBooks are onto it also.
So since they aren’t capable of improving their software so that they actually have a product people will want to pay for to upgrade, they had to come up with this rip off ransom system.
Competition and product improvement are dead, as is customer service.

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Sharp businessmen realized that they were limiting the profits selling us the ap for the one time fee when they could do monthly subs and capture that monthly recurrent income. I’ve been moving to free linux apps as my older apps stop working. I’m still using Microsoft Office 2007 LOL, but I have the OpenOffice software and use it all the time…doc


I personally don’t consider it “sharp”. It’s sleazy short term thinking. It may take many years, but the way things are going, the corporate world is going to collapse due to horrible business practices that don’t give a damn about the customers, who are the only reason the company exists. Look at all the companies these days that are doing their damndest to rip off their customers (can you say Wells Fargo?). Don’t bite the hand that feeds you!
I’m also still using MS Office 2007! And I will until they pry it from my cold dead hand, LOL!
I wish there was a way around the Quickbooks rip off.


There is. What I used in my Accounting 101 class. Paper and a fountain pen.


LOL, too funny yet so true…doc


No quills?

We were required to use fountain pens in my early years of grammar school. Not the ones that refill from a bottle, these had disposable plastic cylinders of ink. (We used pencils too, of course.) I can’t remember at what grade I was allowed to use ballpoints.

(The desks that were bolted to the floor in the old building had a hole for an ink well, but those were long gone.)

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And you were probably the kid who wanted to dip my braids (pig tails) in the ink. Lol lol


I did not take Account 101 in grade school or even high school. Took that as a Sophomore in college. We were not allowed to use ball points on the ledger sheets.

I have not joyous memories of Miss Shimons who taught penmanship in grade school. But I do remember we used Washable Blue ink.


I remember those well. Especially because I am left handed, and the ink was never dry by the time my hand slid across it to write the next word. So I wound up with a blue smear on the side of my palm, and an unreadable pile of glop on the page. And occasionally, when changing out the cartridge, a nice big blue decoration on my shirt.


How old is this thread? This has always been a problem with PC software. Mini computer software was leased requiring steady payments.

PC software must constantly be improved. Otherwise the payments stop coming in.

Planned obsolescence tied to faster processors and new features are the norm. Annual fees might be easier for everyone–especially as technology matures and improvements give diminishing returns. Of course internet can always be used to make yours slow down or stop.

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I’ve been paying the annual fee for Quicken for a couple or three years now and it sucks. I wouldn’t mind so much if the support was decent but quite frankly Quicken has steadily gone downhill big time since the split with Intuit. Everything that use to be one click now takes several clicks. Renaming rules don’t work. They have never resolved the issue with Elon Financial Services but I digress.


You experience is the opposite of mine. I completely gave up on Intuit’s support and after the brief new ownership honey, I was pleased to see the marriage was good. I still used the Quicken forum as my primary support choice. But recently I have had two issues that did not get forum support. With both I called the support line, found the waiting time projected to be accurate and had my issues resolved in less than 15 minutes from when I dialed the number.

One user’s irritation is another’s satisfaction. What matters is getting the job done.

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Why? If it works it works. Leave it alone. When you have enough changes to make it worthwhile to release a new product, then sell the new product to willing buyers. If the automotive industry followed this model (a trend I see they are trying to emulate), you would have to keep paying for the car you already bought so they can make improvements to next year’s model.


Hi @Goofyhoofy,

Not true.

With a car, you own the thing and the factory can’t come out and “remake” your car. You do get software updates to component systems but you won’t get fenders with a different style.

With Quicken, as an example, you do get a complete new upgrade every year.

Under the old system, you initially buy Quicken then had the option to upgrade. You could upgrade every year or less often. It was your choice.

It did become an issue after a few years for Quicken. They had to provide support for multiple versions of code. When a software company supports multiple versions, it can become a nightmare doing all the testing on all versions if a particular bug needs to be fixed across the entire group.

This way, they concentrate effort on current and next-gen.

This sounds good for consumers but from a business standpoint, it can mean death for the company. How many companies can manage making $500MM one year then making just $20MM a year for the next 5 or 10?

On a side note, my 2017 Quicken works fine.

Does that help you?

All holdings and some statistics on my Fool profile page (Click Expand)


They never improve their software. The so-called “upgrades” are a joke. I’ve been using Quicken for decades. I never see improvements that I find useful.

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I’m not sure I understand the analogy. Are you saying that Quicken updates are merely cosmetic?

Ford delivers a functional car. It continues to be a function car throughout its life - unless something is found to be wrong with it, in which case it is recalled and fixed.

Newer cars may have more features, may be more stylish, offered in different colors, etc. but if I want to use my older car that doesn’t require me to continue paying Ford for the privilege.

I don’t know. Microsoft did it when they sold DOS and Windows. Apple does it with the iPhone. Every car manufacturer on the planet does it. I have a Viking Fridge, a KitchenAid stove and a GE dishwasher. They do it.

More to the point, I have Safari and Chrome. I have handyman apps from a variety of code writers. I have Photosynth, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, financial services, weather apps, calculators and all manner of other software, both paid and free, and none of them require me to pay for “upgrades” on a continuing basis.

I do pay for TurboTax, but that’s at least in part because the fundamental tax laws on which its based keep changing either by legislation, tax ruling, or court case, so I understand why that requires new software each year.

Otherwise, you’re just acceding to someone having his hand in your pocket for no other reason than he wants to, in my view.


He, he, he. Wait till you buy a new computer. See if you can load your 2017 Quicken.

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Although you did not explicitly say this, the thread is largely a discussion about software companies making no improvements and charging an annual fee — at least that is the stated opinion of the OP.

I happened to have purchases an iPhone on June 29, 2007. It was a basic cell phone that could download and play music and podcasts. The screen was 320 by 480 pixels. It had no GPS. It has some really simple games – games that are almost impossible to purchase today. It did store contacts/phone numbers. It had basic google maps (but no capability to update/correct those maps). I do not believe the software supported routing – certainly did not traffic aware routing.

If want to claim the annual improvements individually are small - yes. But the cumulative effects of small incremental changes over a period of years is not trivial.


My Samsung phone is 9 years old and works fine for me. That’s all I need. the minor “improvements” mean nothing to me.


I guess if you don’t like the terms of the purchase/rental, you can always opt for another product which doesn’t charge annual update fees.

Many apps simply update themselves when connected (with the attendant changes to the interface you were used to). Others let you avoid update but eventually they become incompatible for the platform they used to operate on. But they all have bugs and dependencies. The bugs require updates to fix and the dependencies are not controlled by the software itself.

The physical model of cars, refrigerators and dishwashers doesn’t apply.

In fact, even certain physical things (think farm tractors) have limitations on what parts can be used for repairs and who can effect those repairs. And farming also has limitations on seed usage, so they have to repurchase licensed seeds rather than retain seeds from current crop.

If no one else sees a market to provide similar products with terms you prefer, you just have to learn to live with it. Things change - and they don’t change back…

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