6 Things You Need To Consider Before You Subscribe

Peter Steven Ho
6 min readJan 21, 2022

Subscription fatigue is a growing problem, don’t reject buying a software license out of hand.

Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay

In the last 10 years, there has been a significant shift in the way we pay for software. The subscription model has grown to become the norm, and fewer vendors are offering customers the option to buy a software license. The transition seems unstoppable and if you aren’t already part of the subscription brigade, you will be soon.

From a software developer’s point of view, switching across to a subscription model is good for business. It helps to provide a steady cash flow, which in turn makes it easier for the company to budget and to grow the business. What’s more, low-cost subscriptions are more inclusive and will likely capture previous customers who couldn’t afford to buy a license.

From what I’ve observed, there has been very little push back from consumers, and it hasn’t raised the ire of consumer watchdogs, so it looks like software subscriptions are here to stay.

1. You Don’t Own The Software

First off, regardless of whether you pay for a license or a subscription, you do not own the software, but the distinction is more subtle than that and it’s stipulated in a lengthy license or subscription agreement.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Regardless, the shift from paying for licensed software to paying a subscription has fundamentally changed our legal standing with respect to usage rights.

When buying a license, it grants the licensee conditional rights to retain the software and, subject to a range of conditions, the rights to use that software indefinitely. Furthermore licensed software may have further restrictions on the number of users or installs that are allowed, and there may be limits to the number of software upgrades and bug fixes. Typically licensees tend to hold off on buying a new release for at least a couple of years.

In contrast, when paying for a service, it grants the user access to a software service that performs a specific function for a fixed period of time. Typical subscription…

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Peter Steven Ho

BSc (Hons), LLB. Freelance writer in Technology, Science and Travel. Come join me on a journey of discovery.