Open Your Wallets!I've been thinking about Microsoft's decision to 'give' away the new version of Win10 to all existing Win7 users and above. They have taken great care to describe Win10 as a service, and promise to support that version of Win10 as long as the PC on which it was installed continues to work. To me, that clearly indicates Microsoft intends a subscription based business model. The 'giveaway' is the free sample designed to get you used to the idea that the service has value.
Let me state up front that no one would be happier than me to be wrong on this. But do ANY of us really think the changes in the software industry will leave us with MORE money at the end of the month?
As a result, I've been thinking about what this means to me, to software publishers, and the relationship I have with those publishers. Let me be clear, I have no problem with Microsoft or any other software publisher making as much money as they can on their products. I don't care if the world perceives that profit as being "fair" or not. All profit is fair because it is the combined result of people making the decision that a product is worth buying.
However, in a world where everything is a subscribed service, there is a limit to how many 'services' any given consumer household can pay for. I personally believe the spreadsheets 'proving' how much money a subscription business model can bring in are optimistic. I won't go into all the arguments, we've all heard them. But I will say we all have a number in our head that tells us how many non-essential subscriptions are too many for our respective households and when we get close to that number, we get ever more reluctant to go over that number.
If people are 'subscribing' to maintain their computer operating system (with possibly multiple computers), will they then consider an Adobe subscription extravagant? Will they find traditional upgrades, in general, too expensive or too frequent?
Microsoft Will Be Competing for Your Upgrade Dollar!
I wonder if it is time for the photographic software publishers to explore an environment where they don't have to compete for the same upgrade dollar as Microsoft?
It might be time for all software publishers who rely on Windows, to consider their position. Will the number of Windows installations rise or fall? Will installations of alternative operating systems become more popular? Or less popular? I know that ever since Win 8 came out, I have been considering a move to either the Mac or Linux OS. I'm far from making a decision, but I AM thinking about it. More importantly, I wonder how many people are there like me?
As a retired Teradata DBA, I have the advantage of knowing Linux reasonably well. I am far from an expert, but I have had Ubuntu and Mint variations of Linux installed on my personal computers from time to time. I like Linux but I don't like most of the photo applications available. AfterShot Pro is the only commercial photo application for Linux that I know of, and frankly I don't find it all that compelling. ACDSee Pro is better. As is Lightroom and CaptureOne.
As near as I can tell, most of the photo apps for Android and Chrome are simple minded toys aimed at phone camera jpgs produced by 13 year old girls. Even the Android version of Lightroom is stripped down.
The Immediate Future
The truth is, for people who consider themselves serious photographers, the immediate future is likely to be costly. All of a sudden, you will have to decide between paying for the new Windows subscription and the photo software subscription (or conventional upgrade cost).
Now I have no doubt that eventually market forces will work to alleviate this issue. But for the short term, expect to spend some money!