JetBrains refuses to U-turn on subscriptions (but sweetens the deal)

Annual dev tools subscribers get a perpetual license, will have to roll back to use it

Developer tools company JetBrains displeased many of its customers when it announced a move to subscription-only licensing from later this year.

"We sincerely apologize for this," says co-CEO Maxim Shafirov, while also insisting that the company is "moving forward with subscription."

The scheme, which allows for individual product subscriptions or an all-you-can-eat Toolbox plan, has been adjusted to address developer concerns about time-bombed software.

Once you have paid for a full year, up front or in 12 months, you get a "perpetual fallback license" to the exact version at the time of your first payment. So you receive perpetual fallback licenses for every version you've paid 12 consecutive months for, in a rolling fashion.

In addition, JetBrains is offering two years for the price of one for initial subscribers.

Shafirov also promises that the software will work without an internet connection.

The scheme means that you can, in effect, still buy a perpetual license. The catch is that those who let subscriptions lapse will have to roll back their tools to what will then be an older version, with possible compatibility issues with the current state of your code.

It is a clever compromise though, which meets developer concerns to some extent while still giving an incentive to continue subscribing.

Shafirov states that the subscription model is "more sustainable" than the traditional licensing model of an initial perpetual license with discounted upgrades, and makes it easier for the company to deliver regular incremental updates. ®

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