Licensing Models – Perpetual vs. Subscription

Markzware offers two licensing models – a Perpetual license with a one-time fee and a more flexible subscription license with a recurring annual fee.

We get many questions about the Subscription License vs. Perpetual License purchase options. To better understand each license type and its pros and cons, continue reading.


Perpetual Licenses are how most software products were sold since products were delivered on a physical disk. There is an initial cost to purchase a license, plus an optional annual upgrade cost to stay on the latest version. Updates, mostly bug fixes, are included until the version is obsolete.

PROS: One advantage of a Perpetual License is that you own the software and can continue to use the version you purchased perpetually. However, there is a disadvantage; you will not receive new product features and versions.

Customers who cannot be sure their purchasing department will renew subscriptions every year tend to go with Perpetual Licenses. This ensures the software is never inaccessible because of purchasing logistics or glitches; however, it can carry a risk if not maintained.

CONS: Although perpetual licenses may be used forever on a particular version, they have a short lifecycle and, within a year or two, can become obsolete due to factors such as supported hardware and companion software. As a result, you may need to upgrade annually to ensure compatibility with other line-of-business applications. If you continue to use an old version of our product that has reached end-of-life, updates, patches, and hotfixes will no longer be provided. This could expose you to serious usability risks, such as incompatibilities with newer and changing software environments (e.g., macOS, Windows, Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, Affinity Publisher, and others).

With perpetual licenses, you pay more upfront to access the software forever. If you plan to stay on the latest version, this is a more costly option, but you’ll have access to the software forever. Our products have an annual upgrade timed with Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress, depending on the product.


Subscription Licenses are the new standard. With a Subscription License, you pay an annual price that includes the software, all updates, product upgrades, and technical support.

PROS: An advantage of a Subscription License is its lower initial acquisition cost. Typically, individuals and smaller companies (who place a premium on conserving money to maintain strong cash flows) opt for subscription-based licensing. This is also the most cost-effective option for users who rely on the ability to read the latest versions of the supported file formats.

CONS: A subscription licensing model offers better affordability with a predictable payment schedule, becoming a part of operational expenditure. Upgrades and new features are accessible in real-time and rolled into the annual price, ensuring no compatibility or obsolescence issues. However, if you fail to renew the subscription, you will lose the ability to use the software (whereas a Perpetual License will keep working on the same version).


Perpetual LicenseSubscription License
One Time FeeNone
Recurring Annual FeeNone
Free UpdatesNoneNone
Free UpgradesNone

If you are debating subscription vs. perpetual, there is no right or wrong answer – only what is right for your business.

  • Subscriptions Licenses have a lower initial price but may cost more over time and stop working if you do not renew. 
  • Perpetual Licenses cost more up-front, never expire, and include updates but not upgrades.

Which is best? The decision is entirely up to you. There is no difference in the software’s functionality for the two licensing methods.

Title: Licensing Models – Perpetual vs. Subscription
Published on: March 7, 2022
Eddie Aguirre

Software Engineer at Markzware

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