This lifetime license issue keeps coming up occasionally for our favorite software. The most recent one I ran into is from DOpus. Read this:
When you buy Directory Opus you get a lifetime licence to use the current major version (e.g. 'Directory Opus 10'). All updates released for the same major version are yours for free and you can keep using them forever.
So, buying Opus gives you a lifetime licence and (typically) a lot of free updates over a long period of time, but it does not entitle you to free updates forever.
The same has been raised for Roboform, Ad Muncher (just off the top of my head). Anyway, when you read that, the TONE of the text and the conversation sounds like there is a confusion between what people understand to be a lifetime license vs. a lifetime of updates AND upgrades, all versions no matter what. Basically, you pay one time for a software and you get everything that company makes from that point on until the end of one of your lives.
To me, this is not that confusing, nor is it the point of any issues or disagreements arising due to this. However, lots of highly charged arguments and debates usually follow when this issue comes up. It usually happens when a developer realizes that a lifetime of upgrades is an impossible business strategy and has to change the policy, then people start complaining (justifiably) that the developer can't just change the policy like that since that's the whole point of the term lifetime!!
So let me carefully point out the psychology behind it all, which nobody ever seems to mention. Instead, the debates circle around the definitions of the terms, and they completely avoid the heart of the matter.
The problem is this:
The developers pretend (i.e. play dumb) that what they meant by using the term "lifetime" in whatever context is limited to some sort of restrictions. But there's no real good way around it, not even with all the legal jargon and cleverly constructed arguments. The reason why is because the whole concept is contained in the definition of the word "lifetime". You can't wiggle out of that word...lifetime is lifetime, no matter how you slice or dice it. The only end to lifetime is death.
So the developers usually resort to the tactic of saying lifetime only meant the lifetime of the currently numbered majored version (the lifetime of v9.x is distinct from the lifetime of v10.x) Of course, users will want lifetime to mean any version (vX.X). But nobody says that. They just go back and forth about the definitions.
Also, the developers will NEVER admit that they have to change their policy due to finances. They also won't admit that, yes, they are breaking a promise (if they did indeed offer lifetime licenses before). So if you don't admit those two things, any explanation they give to their customers is a clever little tap dance around the issue while still trying to be "nice" and polite.
The absolute funniest part is when they start bragging about the fact that they offer lifetime upgrades for the current version. Like DOpus' explanation (I'm not picking on them, by the way, I love DOpus):
All updates released for the same major version are yours for free and you can keep using them forever
They say it as if when the customer hears this, the customer will react like:
"Oh My GOD!! No way!! That is sooo awesome! I get to use the software that I bought forever?! Holy crap! What a great, unqique thing!"
And I'm always wondering, what the freak is the big freaking deal?? Who gives a flying sink? Who in the world would buy a software where the currently installed version would stop working after any given amount of time?? That doesn't make any sense?! There is no software like that! And if there was, it's an insane person who would buy it, unless they had to for some reason. So this is not a feature worth bragging about, or even mentioning as a freaking feature! It's like bragging that a windows software has the 3 buttons in the upper-right corner for close/minimize/maximize. It's not even worth mentioning.
So when it is mentioned, it is either a deliberate attempt to distract the customer in the argument, OR the developer is clueless. And most developers are not clueless, and it's an intentional clever tactic.
I don't know why I just went off on that. I've seen the exact same thing develop about 3-4 times now, so I was festering a little bit. Again, I'm not taking sides here. The customer's complaint is justified, and so is the developer's need to change a ridiculous policy like lifetime anything. Just listening to the debate is interesting because they go on forever and nobody ever nails the heart of the matter.