back to article At Citrix, 'perpetual licenses' means 'we'd rather move you to a subscription'

Citrix has announced a licensing scheme that's bad news for holders of so-called perpetual licenses because the vendor will stop maintaining products sold to "larger customers" under that scheme. The vendor stopped selling new perpetual licenses in 2019, so license-holders are sitting on old code that has almost certainly been …

  1. ITMA Silver badge


    "Citrix has not previously set the expectation that such customers could be denied maintenance. Indeed the very word 'perpetual' more or less implies the opposite".

    "Perpetual" doesn't imply ongoing maintenance at all.

    It simply means that you pay once and the license never expires. So as long as you have a platform that supports it, it will (or should*) keep working without having to pay any more money. It does NOT mean that you will continue to get updates and security fixes for it.

    *There is an exception to this. Zemax OpticStudio "perpetual" licenses (prior to their aquisition to Ansys) require the perpetual license be assigned to a My Zemax user ID on their My Zemax portal. Shutdown the portal and your "so-called perpetual" license becomes useless.

    Rather like all those devices which won't work without a subscription (free or paid) on the manufacture's "cloud" system. Shutdown that and all that shiny hardware becomes scrap.

    1. SVD_NL

      Re: Eh?


      In the SAAS world we live in this is something we take for granted, but a software license ≠ support contract. Not necessarily at least. They just mean you are allowed to use the software product perpetually.

      If the vendor releases a new version, they may choose to let you upgrade on the same license, but they have no obligation to (other than specific terms agreed upon, e.g. MS office licenses that specify how long they will receive feature and security updates).

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Eh?

        Yep, without that support contract, you're on your own. Both companies that begin with a big V sell support contracts, but in the 12 years I used them, I never once had to call support, except for a licensing issue (which was most likely our reseller\vendor boo boo), not technical support. My old boss considered it 'insurance'. Businesses holding other business hostage??

      2. ITMA Silver badge

        Re: Eh?

        There does seem to be a fair amount of misunderstanding around what a perpetual license is.

        (old) Zemax used the term "perpetual". Ansys use the more common sense "paid-up", but both are perhaps more familair to most of us as "buy".

        You pay your money and you get a license to use that specific version of the software forever (or as long as you have a system capablle of running it and the OS it needs to run on which gets older and older and more difficult as time goes on).

    2. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Eh?

      Agreed - Citrix have always had this model:

      Perpetual licenses - the product licenses are yours to keep and the support (Subscription Advantage) is included for year one. After that, you pay for it until such a time as the product is EOL* but you are free to keep using said product ad infinitum, less updates (including security) or support.

      Subscription-based licenses (considerably newer - came along from 4 / 5 years ago) - you pay annually or monthly but never own the product, are expected to refresh/renew as required to maintain the support.

      *Unless we can make you keep paying even though we can no longer actually support the version you're on...

      1. ITMA Silver badge

        Re: Eh?

        "Subscription-based licenses (considerably newer - came along from 4 / 5 years ago) - you pay annually or monthly but never own the product, are expected to refresh/renew as required to maintain the support."

        Not just to maintain the support. Every subscription based software I've came across, you stop paying it stops working. Which is exactly what you would expect.

        1. TonyJ Silver badge

          Re: Eh?

          Apologies - I thought that was clear when I said "...but you never own the product". My bad.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the vendor will stop maintaining products sold [..] under that scheme"

    I propose a law that obliges the following :

    1) If a company sells any product with a perpetual license, the company is obliged to support said product in perpetuity - and if said company folds and its remains are bought by another company, that new company will have to respect that legacy. Consequence : Companies will stop the nonsense of trying to make customers believe that the company will support anything for any longer than it feels like.

    2) If a company sells any product that includes the words "Unlimited","No Limit" or any variation of or other wording intending to make customers believe that they are not limited, then said company is forbidden in perpetuity on that product from introducing any scheme that would limit or throttle the use of the product in any way, shape or form beyond the natural limits of technology.

    Stop with the malarky. Don't sell anything in perpetuity, you won't last that long. Don't market anything as unlimited - almost nobody has been able to put up with the costs in the long term.

    Honesty in marketing, it's a good thing. Would make for a kick-ass comedy platform as well.

    1. ITMA Silver badge

      Re: "the vendor will stop maintaining products sold [..] under that scheme"

      Well item 1 is a complete non-starter.

      This is the real world.... If such a proposal ever became law it would jsut shift all software vendors to the SAAS model and kill "perpetual" licenses stone dead.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "the vendor will stop maintaining products sold [..] under that scheme"

      I don't usually disagree with you but on point 1 I do. A perpetual licence is what it says in the licence terms and that's usually a licence to use whatever was on the (possibly virtual) medium in perpetuity as long as you have something to support it. Maintenance or support contracts are a separate thing and usually bought on an annual basis.

      Products based on regular connection to the vendor's server (other than those where the service is the product) are a different matter. Can we have a tar and feathers icon?

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: "the vendor will stop maintaining products sold [..] under that scheme"

      You really like subscriptions and want every company to use that model, don't you? No? Your suggestions would make that certain.

      "If a company sells any product with a perpetual license, the company is obliged to support said product in perpetuity - and if said company folds and its remains are bought by another company, that new company will have to respect that legacy."

      Since it has never meant that, companies will make it clear that their support requirements aren't going to last forever. Since you've now made it so that holding a license means they have to support it, they'll have to implement that by making your license time-limited as well. The only way for a company to indicate that they're not going to support something until the death of the planet is to make sure your license will expire as soon as you stop paying. Even if there was a company that didn't want to, if they bought any libraries from someone else, that someone else would also be covered by your new law and would require the company to keep paying for that license, and they'd have to pass that ongoing cost to you. Say goodbye to any chance of buying a piece of software and being allowed to run it later, even if the company no longer exists.

  3. MPFJ

    Hmmm ... are they related to Sage ???

    Sounds like they're following in the footsteps of the Sage "perpetual license" issue that kicked in at the end of last year.

    "Perpetual" == "up until we can find an excuse to force you over to a subscription"

    Such fun !!

    1. ITMA Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm ... are they related to Sage ???

      Something similar is happening with the Ansys aquisition of Zemax, but there are plus sides to it.

      If you have (what is now called) a legacy Zemax "perpetual" license it has to be assigned to a specific My Zemax user ID. If you don't wish to migrate to the Ansys version of the Zemax software, you can quite happily not migrate.

      However, you will get no more product development (even WITH a support subscription) and Ansys make no committment to maintain the My Zemax portal without which your legacy Zemax perpetual license is useless (the software checks in regularly).

      On the plus side, gone are the draconian limitations which (old) Zemax imposed such as not being able to change the assigned user on a standard SUL (single user license) more than once every 30 days.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I always read perpetual license as you could keep using the software for as long as you could at the last version you legitimately had a license for.

    If you updated the OS and it no longer ran that's your problem.

    If you wanted support you paid for support and got newer versions.

    If you stopped paying for support you could continue to use the last version you had but could not upgrade.

    If you restart support you paid a back payment to cover missed support years.

    That said it's all down to the license small print

    I have at least one licence that's perpetual that I can get new version for. However if I run into problems that's my problem unless I've a support contract...

    1. ITMA Silver badge

      "If you restart support you paid a back payment to cover missed support years."

      A la Solidworks....

      I can see the point with that, but it can be crippling. Especially if, like Solidworks, each new major version introduces "one way" file format changes which render your data incompatible with previous versions.

      1. quxinot

        Gosh, where have we seen that before? I wonder if they just add an x to the end of the file extension...

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          It's almost as if you don't understand that the .docx format is not the same or even built on the same base as the .doc file format, that it has an open specification, which while unclear is supported by a variety of open source software, and has remained open, supported by other software, and without being superseded since its introduction in 2007. And possibly you're also unaware that, when the .docx format was introduced, Microsoft released a compatibility module for earlier Office versions so they could also open and write them. I've just created a document in the latest Office365 version of Word on my work machine, copied it to an old computer that has Office XP from 2002 and the compatibility module installed, and it was able to open and edit the document without problems. Whether you're using open source editors or a much older version of Office, the .docx and similar modifications to Excel and PowerPoint file formats do not in any way match the description that was made above.

          Sometimes file formats are changed to actually improve them. The way that Vorbis, while you can still use it to encode your audio, is mostly replaced by Opus. I'll note that both of these are open formats.

          1. ITMA Silver badge

            I agree entirely about .doc to docx.

            I also appreciate that changes to internal file formats may be needed to provide worthwhile improvement.

            I think the issue with Solidworks is that they provide no route or mechanism for backwards compatibility - the ability to open the new format files in older software. Something which Microsoft (to a degree) has done.

            I'm not an expert on CAD file formats, but I don't think Autodesk have went down the same route as Solidworks in almost building in (what seems) deliberate changes to "encourage" customers to maintain the maintenance subscriptions by making new file formats unusuable in older software. Then compounding that by the new software "helpfully and automatically upgrading" anything you open to edit to the new format making useless in older versions.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              I agree with you. While I haven't used the software, the changes you describe sound like they're intended as lock-in methods and quite reprehensible. My post was directed at the first reply to yours which took the predictable approach and blamed Microsoft for doing the same thing, which they didn't (or at least not in the cited example) and I'm tired of hearing that example trotted out by people who demonstrate they don't understand what happened.

  5. yetanotheraoc Silver badge


    "Expansion of our world-class support, including direct integration into the Citrix Engineering team for a seamless experience."

    I suspect in this case world-class means other-side-of-the-world-class, rather than best-in-class. How the integration is achieved is left as an exercise for the reader. Expanding the world-class side means shrinking the local-class side, but hey, let's not rain on the subscription license news.

  6. A2Wx8

    Well, time to call my reseller

    We've got a LOT of licenses, and while we pay maintenance every year it looks like we may be facing an ugly surprise. Guess I'll be contacting my reseller on Monday to see what kind of surprise I'm looking at.

    Got to admit I got a good laugh out of their "world class" support. It's bad. Like, really bad. Some of the worst I've ever experienced in my career. If I can pay a subscription and get people who understand the concept of time zones (no, I'm not here at 9 PM, I told you what time zone I'm in, stop giving me grief about it), understand their own product, and don't take days or weeks to get back to me it may be worth it. Not getting a pile of bugs loosely wrapped in an installer would be nice as well, but that may be beyond their capabilities.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, time to call my reseller

      Didn't they let go of a lot of their support personnel? And most of their security team, I believe.

  7. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Software Subscription

    Indentured servitude

  8. TheInstigator Bronze badge

    Personally I hate the move to SaaS - it's essentially a license to print money for software houses

    I would go so far as to say it should be banned - I think of this practice in the same way Tesla unlocks certain features in your car if you "subscribe" to them ....

    What's next - shoes that you will have to pay a subscription to get laces that only last 2 weeks, before having to buy new laces?

  9. Grunchy Bronze badge

    No longer a product

    Software isn’t a product that you can just buy anymore, now it’s become a subscription service.

    Likewise the “agile” development scheme isn’t a Project Management technique. Instead, agile is more like a Service Management technique.

    That’s because projects are supposed to end, and a final work product delivered. “Normal” software used to work like this, but now software projects never ever end. Well, they do, but only after some competitor came up with some new technology that made the old software obsolete. It’s not like the project ended so much as the service was abandoned.


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Did not go down well" - Bit of an understatement there

    At least one F100 dropped them like a hot potato about 2 weeks ago, was wondering what that was all about.

  11. mikejames

    Borland license

    I wonder if any company has the balls to bring back the Borland No Nonsense license agreement.

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