The future of perpetual licenses?

Capture One just royally screwed all their customers with changes in their perpetual licensing. After raising the costs of upgrades year after year, they now pulled a new trick: if you buy a license, let’s say version 24.1 at the moment of buying, you’re forever stuck on that license and don’t get any upgrades (e.g. 24.1.2). They say they will still do bug fixes (but how the hell is that going to work if every customer has a different version… they would have to patch the same bug in every point version ever released). Essentially, they’re forcing any sensible customer to a subscription plan (and they know exactly that they are doing this. This is going to cost them dearly, as I already see people move back to Adobe’s subscription plans since they cost half and you get Lightroom and Photoshop.

Hi ,

Over the past few years many of you have told us you want access to new tools and improvements sooner, rather than have them all in one ‘major’ version of Capture One Pro at the end of each year. That’s why we’ve been investing heavily in our technology to be able release features to you as soon as they are ready. Now we’re ready to fully embrace this approach.

From 2023 we will no longer be tied to an annual cycle for major releases. As a result, there will not be a Capture One 24. Instead, we will continuously release new tools and features on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Alongside this, we will also be making changes to our perpetual licenses from February 1, 2023. Here’s what’s changing:

  1. New perpetual licenses will include updates with bug fixes until the next version, but new features released after purchase will not be included.
  2. Upgrade pricing will no longer be available and will be replaced with a new loyalty scheme. More details will be announced on February 1, 2023.

Here’s how it affects you:
Happy with your current version of Capture One Pro? Great, there’s nothing you need to do.

If you do want to get our latest version, Capture One Pro 23, our upgrade pricing is open to you until January 31, 2023. By purchasing before this date you will receive all updates including new features until September 30, 2023. You can access this by logging into your account on our website.

You can find more details of the changes and how it affects you on this page.

Thank you as always for being part of the Capture One community. We’re excited to share our new products and features with you over the coming months, and hope you’ll enjoy using them as much as we have creating them!

I find this very concerning, also because DxO has also been steadily increasing the price and limiting the eligibility for upgrades. So let this be a warning shot for DxO.

My suggestion? Be good and customers will flock to you. Your competitors are screwing themselves. Instead of milking your customers, go for volume/scale by doing right, being royal with upgrades and camera updates and also focus on fixing bugs in current software versus only in new versions.

Another suggestion I have is to offer a rent-to-own plan (in addition to the perpetual purchase option). Offer the full suite in 24 monthly payments after which your customer owns the software (the version that is out after the 24th payment). Splice is doing this in the music space for a number of DAWs and plug-ins and I think it’s a great idea that offers a middle road between subscriptions and perpetual software.

Your thoughts?


What does perpetual mean anyway?

  • It mostly means that you’re allowed to use the application…which will only run within a limited frame of OS releases which change on a yearly basis nowadays.
  • If we want perpetual use of an application, we have to freeze our systems at a given point in time.
  • Will we get perpetual support? Nay, just a year or two or until support is euthanized.

Moreover, if we buy upgrades every year, we might as well call it a subscription. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


As soon as you define your idea of “good”, we can have a better impression about it. And will have different views of what’s good for us.

I will not jump into Adobe’s way of cashing in as I feel they’re not delivering so many new features and support is a catastrophe, at least was in the few occasions I tried to use it. The other side however… I once got a copy of PS “for free” from a friend version 5 or 6 was easy to crack apparently. And a company doesn’t survive on cracked copied, so let’s be honest for a moment. Users also were not always fair against the company, right? So, no wonder they thought about new ways making money. Salaries are not paid on a yearly basis.

What I just don’t like on this subscription is, wether they do a great or poor job, money comes in. Kind of an edit-tax.

Also, there are more ways to take photographs than only digital. No one forces me to use a computer.

Oh, and @florisvaneck, Capture One clearly stated there won’t be a version 24, sorry to disappoint you. Behind me is an iMac from 2009 or 2010. Guess what’s running on it? iTunes and Aperture, both long time gone in their good versions. As long as this machine is running, I can listen to music in my playlists (yes, there was a life before Spotify), browsing through my projects and albums. It’s not comforting because I see software constantly becoming worse and business methods don’t care wether I like them or not. They don’t even care wether I buy or not, because if I don’t, it was always the fault of somebody else, never the manager’s.

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I think it comes down to one concept, whether we like it or not…

You pay a subscription and hope that the company will deliver sufficient value over time. If they don’t, you start again with a new product. If they do, then you’re getting value.

It could be argued that this works better for customers, because you may only pay half a year’s subscriptions for (probably) less than a full “perpetual” license would have cost before jumping to another product. Unless, of course, it’s Adobe, who lock in an entire year at a time.

I’ve come to accept subscription software and I have seen it work very well. I’ve also seen it work very badly. But if we come to accept that software inexorably marches on, it’s probably the better business model for vendors and customers. If the company knows how to deliver value.

Not quite the case with LR because if you stop the subscription then LR is crippled!

Buying an upgrade every year and then stopping you can still use the full functionality at PL.


Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom costs $10.00 a month on the subscription plan. To me that seems like a small price to pay for some of the best software for editing images.


For those who want the subscription, performance and adobe way of doing things will do so.

Others have different preferences and choose different ways and solutions.
I’m impressed with the quality-to-invested-work factor PL offers me which is why I choose PL.

I do not utilise their DAM implementation and have gone with Photo Supreme as DAM instead.

We all chose the ways we believe give as the best rewards.

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One suspects the image editing market is a bit crowded and due for a shake out. To get people to upgrade each year they need something new and flashy that works as advertised and AI is about all that is around. But if we know how to edit do we really need it? Topaz is doing good things with AI image quality and DxO with noise reduction. The more “creative” AI is of little interest to many of us.

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At least for the moment I feel a lot better about choosing DxO Photolab over Capture One for my Black Friday purchase. I’ll see how it goes.

^^ this ^^ all day - it’s a subscription in all but name but without mobile licensing functionality and a requirement to pay up front. For those that want to install one version because it covers all their cameras, lenses and they have all the tools they would ever need then fine, it’s a one off purchase until the support ends.

I don’t agree - you can’t use LR any more because you aren’t paying for it according to their purchase model. If the model didn’t suit you, you shouldn’t have bought into it. You can capture LR edits to images which can be exported to another editor if you change your mind - it’s an absolute pain in the arse/ ball ache/ pick your “you want me to export n-gazzillion images to DNG and lose my history and RAW processing ability” expletive but I’m sorry, that’s what it is.

I’m with @KeithRJ here, Adobe can always alter the conditions of use which is nothing less than blackmailing their users whenever they want to. I think this is what most of the “Adobe subscription - no thanks, not with me!” folks fear the most.

Or let me put it that way: Do you have a subscription model for your car, your kitchen, your sleeping room? And the moment you decide not to pay anymore you just can look at your oven, steering wheel bed - but can’t use it?

If I don’t buy an update, I can’t use the newest function, fine. But all the stuff I used so far remains accessible and usable. This is not the case in Adobe’s business model and there’s also no regulation instance - they basically can do with you what the want anytime.


…looks like something that Phase one is doing with Capture One users at the moment.

We will have to wait and see what C1 actually are going to do with their adjustment to the perpetual license model. They have stated that they will continue to sell perpetual licenses with the cost depending on a “loyalty” basis, whatever that means. :grinning:
C1’s change regarding versions not receiving updates during the life of the version is no different to what Adobe does with PS Elements so it’s not a radical stance within the software industry.
I do think it is a way of increasing the perceived value of a subscription and it does remove the real need to hold back improvements to the product for the “big bang” new version autumn release, which are effectively taken away from subscribers.
DXO don’t usually provide any significant feature updates between versions other than those promised at the launch eg soft proofing, Fuji DP XD support etc.
If you upgraded to V23 nothing changes until Sept 2023.
Is all of this a *@#& mess for C1 PR, YES!

In the Mac ecosystem this may be relevant but with PC’s OS support is excellent. For example, it’s possible to use software on Win 11 from the late 1990’s. Most people regard that as perpetual enough😀

If I lease a car, yes. If I rent a house, yes.

Totally agree

I will hold my conclusion until February 1st. For the moment I can live with “v23 being the last version with update possible unto September 2023” and honestly, their last updates were “sort of okay” but my main reason to pay them was “maybe one day a Dane wakes up and starts to work on a better DAM inside C1”. It’s safe to say I lost hope. For that, I believe, you need geniuses in a higher pay grade than their iPad gameboys.

I survived two major changes when Apple went from PowerPC to Intel and now to M1. I also survived some testing time with PL, paid for that experience the maximum and got sort of bad value for asset management and rather good value for image editing. Could have been worse.

But I will never develop this kind of trust in an app I had when using Aperture. Everything else on the market simply cannot compete with it. Also, I’m not depending on one single, little private company trying to make their money with a picture-app.I spoke with other friends and was surprised not to be alone with the impression software gets worse by the day. And I also think, Aperture is dead, but chances Apple would have kept their level are very low. So I’m glad I could learn and use it when it was at its peak. In one of the last versions the dumb idiots decided to go all black and grey with icons and symbols. That was the first crack in trust, when I re-coloured parts of the UI. Sure, “yelling” colours can be a distraction, but desaturated icons first look dead and worse and second , need more attention to recognize them. It has a reason why traffic and safety signs do have colour codes.

Long post short: If Capture One tries to force me to go subscription, I will either evaluate otters apps or find out how my painting skills are. Photography is not the only way to express emotions. We don’t need to make us victims, we are the guys with the wallet.

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If you lease a Tesla, they can switch you off, yes. With a house it’s a bit more complicated. Except if you rented a smart house with digital door locks.

If you buy an F-35, the US can switch you off too :wink:

Happy that cameras (and canvas&brushes) are not connected yet.

I’ll consider that in my 2023 business plan, but maybe I can get a cheap McDonell Starfighter to make a quick flyby over C1’s headquarters? Or an old MIG form GDR stock.

Yeah, that’s a big white spot in the “jam everything into the cloud, gives us your money and shut-up”-concept. I think, Twittflickrgraphmesagge should wake up and make their chatrooms ready for RAW.