SaaS GraphicUp until recently, all software was purchased. This included the Operating System or OS (which came bundled with the computer, phone or tablet), office productivity programs (individually or more popularly as a suite of programs), financial software (Quicken, Turbo Tax and others), and most other software programs (now called apps) on your computing device. Once you had a version of the software, the publisher might send out updates to correct problems, but you were stuck with that core version until you upgraded (bought a new version). This model wreaked havoc on the software publishers in trying to support multiple old versions as new hardware came out and new malware threats came out. The old versions would also, over time, lose compatibility with other newer versions, including the OS when you bought a new computer with a newer version of the OS but continued to use your old programs. Often software publishers would limit the number of older versions they would support, much to the consternation of their customers. That is now changing with subscription software. This is also known as Software as a Service (SaaS). The subscription is how it is paid for.

Even the Windows OS is now a service. Windows 10 is now five years old, succeeding Windows 8.1. It has been getting incremental updates since then.

Two classes of software broke the old purchase mold from the beginning – anti-virus/anti-malware software and tax programs (understandably). If you were not using a free anti-virus software version, the virus signature file would continue to be updated but the program would not. Each year you would subscribe to the latest version in order to keep your computer as malware-free as possible. Intuit, the publisher of Quicken and Turbo Tax, limited Quicken’s ability to synchronize (sync) your bank transactions with your Quicken check register to three years, i.e. three versions before requiring you to buy a new version, but starting this year (2020), you have to buy a new version annually or buy an annual subscription. For Turbo Tax, and every other tax program, you must buy a new version every year as the change in tax laws is incorporated only in the latest version.

I hope this article has furthered your understanding of Software as a Service and payment via subscription rather than purchase.

Harvey Schoenman
On behalf of Oasis Connections