UPDATE NOVEMBER 21, 2022:
We have received a very wide range of feedback on the planned changes over the past few days. In the course of the discussions, we considered some adjustments, but they fell short and would have represented a significant step back for many customers.
We have come to the conclusion that the planned switch-off of installations when the license expires is a step in the wrong direction. Instead, we will focus more on functional and financial incentives in order to be able to continue to guarantee the further development and maintenance of the software in the long term.
The existing announcement has been adjusted, the modified text passages have been marked in bold.
Up until now, the practice has been that licenses can continue to be used in full for the operation of the software even after expiration and that the renewal of the license is a completely optional process. This arrangement is extremely customer-friendly and was explicitly preserved by us when we revised the license terms 3 years ago.
Unfortunately, in consideration of continuing trends, we see ourselves forced to apply some limitations to expired licenses in order to continue to guarantee the long-term development and maintenance of the software. More on the rationale behind this and the considerations made can be found in the following section.
The following changes will apply to all new licenses purchased on or after January 1, 2023, and to licenses renewed on or after January 1, 2023:
- Existing installations remain fully functional even after the license expires.
- As before, these installations will continue to receive access to security and stability updates on a goodwill basis.
- There is explicitly no restriction of functionality or switch-off after the license expires.
- Expired licenses do not entitle the user to reinstall the software.
- With an expired license, the software can no longer be downloaded.
- Expired licenses can no longer be transferred to another person.
This decision was very difficult for us, and we would like to explain the circumstances that led to this decision in the following.
Competition from Platforms That Sell Your Data
For many years now, we have been experiencing competition from data-financed services such as Discord and Facebook Groups. These services collect enormous amounts of personal data to sell it, but in return offer a free platform that allows the risk-free launch of a community.
For a long time, the sale of licenses represented the primary source of revenue for financing the development and maintenance of the software. The creeping decline in license sales has permanently threatened this business model. With the expansion of the product range as well as the introduction of the WoltLab Cloud, we have been able to compensate for this to a large extent so far, but it does not represent a sustainable solution in the long term.
We will continue to make use of price adjustments in the future, if necessary, in order to be able to continue to ensure solid further development and maintenance of the software. Loyal customers in particular, who regularly renew their licenses, play a crucial role in refinancing costs and we will work towards ensuring that this customer group will benefit from more stable costs in the future through higher discounts.
The Hybrid “Woltlab Cloud” And “On-premises” Model
We want to continue to offer and further develop reliable software that also remains affordable for private customers and would therefore like to set the course for the future now.
In many industries, the trend is moving towards a forced migration to the cloud, where the software can only be obtained directly from the manufacturer and can no longer be run on the customer’s own servers. As a manufacturer, this has the enormous advantage of putting an effective stop to piracy. On the other hand, we see our hybrid distribution model with WoltLab Cloud on the one hand and on-premises operation on the other as part of our ongoing success. We explicitly want to maintain this model and continue to offer licenses for on-premises operation.
As an alternative, we considered a substantial increase in license or update costs. However, we quickly discarded this idea, because we want to continue to offer an affordable solution for private customers. Equally important for us is the fact that this would disproportionately burden loyal customers who have regularly renewed their licenses in the past.
The Active License
We have been looking for a solution to distribute the costs for the development and maintenance of the software as fairly as possible on many shoulders. At the same time, we want to continue to enable independent operation, keep costs affordable, and not place an additional burden on especially loyal customers who already regularly upgrade their licenses.
To achieve this goal, we are adjusting the on-premises licenses to continue to tolerate the operation of installations with expired licenses, but no longer allow reinstallation of the software with expired licenses. It will still be possible to let a license expire and renew it later, should you not use the software in the meantime.
We are also working on a concept to more strongly differentiate the discount when renewing or reactivating a license. The goal will be to grant a higher discount to customers who consistently renew their licenses than to those who only renew irregularly.