Software – The death of ownership part 2

After many months of lusting after it, the sheer usefulness of the Android version of Cyberlink’s Photodirector, made me decide to buy the Windows version of PhotoDirector. It is the photo editing software for people who do not have the time or money to learn Photoshop. I saved my pocket money up until I could afford it, then virtually legged it to the Cyberlink website.


Upon arrival I was reminded that Cyberlink sell PowerDirector – an extremely powerful video editing suite – that I had a burning but ineffectual desire to own for years. It cost the same as Photodirector. Ack! Which should I get?

I was chuffed as ninepence to see that Cyberlink have embraced the modern paradigm of software distribution: software rental. For the price of a single copy of either PhotoDirector or PowerDirector I could rent them both, plus another couple of drool-worthy apps, as the Director Suite for a year. (I shall be reviewing the full Director Suite when health allows.)

Now the more cognitively challenged of you may be thinking that, after a few years of shelling out the rental charge, I will just be lining Cyberlink’s pockets. Such people fail to see the brilliance of the rental model.

When Cyberlink update one of the programs I get in the rental bundle I get the upgrade instantly and for free. If I had just purchased a single license for one (or more) of the software packages I would have to pay an upgrade fee.

The chances are that big name productivity software will get updated every year or so, and, by renting the suite of software from Cyberlink, I do not have to pay any more than my yearly rental fee. So it seems that by renting Cyberlink’s brilliant range of lust inducing software I end up paying less, in the long run, in addition to being the first to know about and get access to new versions – for which I do not pay a penny extra to have.

Consequently, I now rent, rather than own, my main photo editing, video editing, video adjustment and sound editing software.

You are probably aware that at BeyondThePC Towers we also rent Microsoft Office. We pay a fixed, remarkably low, sum each month and for that we get the full Microsoft Office suite, still the only name that matters in productivity software, we can run it on our Android tablets and phones, in addition to our Windows 10 desktop (Dani) and Windows 10 tablet (Davy), plus 1TB each of OneDrive cloud storage. Cracking!

Microsoft Word in Landscape mode
Microsoft Word in Landscape mode

Software rental is getting so pervasive that the only ‘serious’ software I regularly use that isn’t on a rental basis are my Digital Audio Workstation packages. However, I know Cakewalk offer their Sonar DAW on a rental basis, should I choose to be frightened by its involute complexity.

Ownership of serious software is becoming more and more passé; and that is a win for both supplier and customer. The supplier has a constant stream of income from the people who are renting software, and the customer always has the latest version (and usually better customer support) of whatever software package they rent.

Now, you may think that software rental only works for big programs. Not so! A few weeks ago I noticed that an unwanted program had got itself installed and it was messing up the functionality of my web browser. I would normally have expected Windows Defender to look sharply in the direction of such malware before bashing it with a knobkerry. This time it had failed.

I looked around for the best solution too m particular problem and the program that was always mentioned as a sure fire solution was Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium. So I have rented that for a year. As it is both effective and deeply affordable I think I shall keep on renting it.

So one can rent little programs too. Not just on the desktop either. I rent anti-malware/virus program for my Android phone and tablet, paying a token sum each month to keep my devices safe. Given Android’s flaky security ecosystem and the explosive rise in number of websites that you should not allow in even the same room as your device, renting this cheap but highly effective security app is a reasonable precaution.

So we rent big software packages, small packages, but what about our devices themselves? For those of us on a contract with a mobile network provider, buying a phone on a monthly price plan is terribly close to renting it from the mobile operator. This is more like Hire Purchase, as you get to keep your scruffy two year old to take to the CeX shop after you have got the latest and greatest device on another contract.

Software and mobile phones are rented, so what about desktops? Microsoft’s introduction of Continuum on its latest Windows 10 mobile phones perhaps gives us a glimpse into the future of computing.

These mobile phones can be connected to a keyboard, mouse and monitor and then you can run any Windows 10 Universal app in full screen on the monitor. So it is entirely plausible that one day you will just have a monitor, keyboard and mouse at home and at work and you will plug your computing device, a mobile phone, into them when you get to the office or come home.

This is a ground breaking path Microsoft have started along, and there is no reason at all that such a future cannot be achieved. It is still a system in its infancy, though, running only on Microsoft’s Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL. It will be fascinating to watch how such systems evolve, and mean that we will be renting (or buying with Hire Purchase) from our mobile service provider.

Lumia 950 XL

So do not spend excessive amounts of money acquiring possessions that are doomed to obsolescence, hire them instead; knowing that if you keep paying the price you get the latest and greatest from a provider. Should you no longer desire that software package, phone or computing system, you just do not review the rental agreement when it is time to pay.

It will save you money, it stop junk (either virtual or physical) from building up in your life and you will be several steps down the path of the true Zen master in having as few possessions as possible!

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