Why Buy Software When You Can Rent It?
In the past, people who wanted copies of Microsoft Office had to shell out lots of money for the latest version. Anyone wanting the Adobe Creative Suite had to shell out … well … a little more. Unless, that is, you wanted to go the illegal route and install pirated copies of the titles – and if you were lucky it wouldn’t come with a virus or two, or cause any number of problems with your computer.
So, basically – if you wanted to use the software (legally) you had to come up with the money – or you were out of luck. Not everyone could afford a few hundred dollars for Microsoft Office … never-friggin-mind a few thousand for Adobe’s Creative Suite…
There are free, open source, versions of a lot of these programs. Some (like, say, LibreOffice) are actually pretty good. Others … not so much. Well, unless you were wanting to create something that looked like it was developed by a six year old on a ten year old computer…
Now, Microsoft is giving you two options about getting your hands on Microsoft Office 2013 – you can either buy the boxed versions – which you can install on one computer and keep for the rest of your life. Or, you can rent it (currently for $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year – although that may change, you never know) and use it on up to five computers. Not just that – but you can also install updated versions down the line as they become available.
Adobe is doing something similar with their Creative Suite of programs: titles like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Premiere, Audition, and Acrobat Pro (just to name a few) – allowing you to rent individual titles for $19.99 a month, or the full suite for $49.99 a month, unless you meet certain criteria (like being a student) where you can get a rather nice discount. (Again, I don’t control those prices, so they may change.)
There are a lot of reasons people prefer to buy software, rather than rent it.
When you buy software, you pay once – and it is (usually) yours for life. With renting software, there’s always some kind of contract – even when there isn’t. Let me explain – sometimes (not always) you may find that you can rent the software a little cheaper, if you sign a contract. If you break that contract, they can come after you for early termination fees, kind of like cell phone companies do.
Then there’s the other kind of contract that’s always there. This contract pretty much says that in order to keep using the software, you have to keep paying for it. If you don’t (or, can’t) pay for it – you won’t be able to use it. Therefore, If you fall on hard times, lose your job, or … for whatever reason, you find you can’t pay the price for that month – you’ll have to stop using it. When you find yourself needing to use it – you may be out of luck. Therefore, some people say buying is better – so you don’t have to worry about things like that.
Other people have complained that, in the long run, it’s often cheaper to buy rather than rent. If you buy a software title for, say, one hundred bucks. Had you rented it for ten dollars a month, you’d have spent the hundred dollars after ten months. (Or, eleven if you have to consider things like tax.)
This may be true some of the times, but not always.
There’s also The Simple Factor. When you buy software, you install it once and you’re good to go. Were you to rent software, you’d have to effectively activate the program every month (so it knows if you’re good to go or not). If there’s a problem … well … you never know.
There are, as I alluded to above, a few obvious reasons one may want to rent software rather than buying it. One of the biggest: Cost. It’s hard for some people to afford (or justify) a one-time payment of a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars – therefore, a much smaller monthly payment is (sometimes) easier.
Also … when you rent software, you are (almost?) always given the most recent version. If you were to have purchased Office 2010 (or, 2007 or 2003 or XP) you were stuck with that version when the next version came out. However, by renting Office 2013 – when the next version comes out (Office 2016, perhaps?) you should be able to upgrade just fine.
But, beyond that – there are several good reasons why someone might want to rent software.
Unless you enter a “Contract” – you can stop using, and stop paying for, the software at any time. Why do I mention this? Well … let’s take Adobe Photoshop for an example. If you ask anybody who uses the program, it’s fairly complex. (So complex, I swear that nobody – not even the developers – know how to do everything the program can do.) Anyhow … learning Photoshop is no easy task. Sure, there’s some pretty cool, basic things you can do with your pictures – but to do the really cool (aka advanced) stuff, you’re going to need … well … a little work and study time. For many people, it’s just too much. So, let’s say you rent the software and after a month or two, you throw up your hands and decide Photoshop isn’t for you. Had you rented – you’d be out a small amount of money – had you bought it – you’d be out much more.
On a similar vein – if you only needed the software for a short time, renting obviously make pretty good sense, too.
Another good reason for renting: Fringe Benefits. Sometimes, you get more if you rent than you would when you buy.
Going back to the Microsoft Office example – if you rent the software, you get (almost) the full suite of office products. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, Publisher – they’re all yours. The only way to get that is to get the most expensive version of the suite, which would set you back a very pretty penny. But, that’s not all.
Renting Office also entitles you to a few extra perks as well: more online storage through SkyDrive. You can also nab 60 minutes of Skype calls per month for free, as well. Different software titles (obviously) have different perks – so you may want to find out what they are.
Is This The Wave Of The Future?
Renting software isn’t new. It’s actually been around for quite a while. But … this latest push is probably more a sign of the times than anything else.
If you haven’t been paying attention – you may not notice that computers are changing. Used to be – if you had a computer, you had some sort of desktop or laptop. Now, we’ve got notebooks, tablets … even our phones are little computers.
Some people believe (and I am NOT one of them) that the PC and Laptop days are over – as people move more toward tablets and smartphones.
I don’t think the computer is going to go anywhere – but, I do acknowledge they’re slowly changing. They always have changed, keeping up with the demands that ever-evolving technology places on them.
And with that change, software needs to keep up or they’re going to get left behind.
These days, there are a number of “pay a little bit at a time” things – from stuff we do on our phones and tablets, even some of the games we play (like … World of Warcraft) … this does seem to be an ongoing trend.
I do predict that the buy vs. rent options are going to become much more common in the near future … and who knows, maybe someday in the future, there will be a lot more renting going on than buying.
But, for now – it’s proving to be interesting to watch.
If you’ve decided to rent software rather than buy it (or, if you’d prefer to buy it rather than rent) – leave me a comment below!