software is expensive

As a Microsoft Employee I am very spoiled. I have the luxury of being able to install most any piece of Microsoft software I want, or purchasing that software for about 10% of its retail cost. Over time I’ve come to realize that this is a pretty amazing perk since we make so many different kinds of Software (OS, Productivity, Games, Development Tools, etc). I can almost get by with not needing any other commercial software of any kind (kinda scarry). Of course there are some notable exceptions as I mention below.

The other day I decided I needed Photoshop CS. So I figured I’ll buy it. However at $600 or so dollars I have a hard time justifying that purchase since I’m only going to use it to edit digital photos (I’m really getting it so that I can use it to manipulate RAW images for my Nikon D70 which I plan on purchasing). I’ve previously owned PhotoShop Elements 1.0 which is a nice lite version of Photoshop, but even version 2 (which is $99) is 1-2 years behind the full version.

Since my wife is a Resident at UCSF she qualifies for the educational pricing of software. However, the Educational price for Photoshop CS is $300. Still not really justifiable for me. But then I remember, that I have an old 6.0 Mac version of Photoshop, and I can use that to do a one time cross platform upgrade for $169. Sold! I *can* justify it for $169. Of course, one upon a time I had to purchase this full version and that surely cost at least $500.

So what’s my point? Software can be expensive. If you are a geek and need lots of software to do various things, and there isn’t a good free alternative, and you don’t know anyone that works at X company that can get you the employee price, you are left in the position of every other normal person in the world that must pay retail. I guess it comes down to the value that is placed on software. And for something that’s completely intangible, it makes it very hard.

I know lots of people that find the price of software so far outside their ability to afford it that pirating is just acceptable. The mentality stems from the fact that because software is intangible, it’s possible to “borrow” it or whatever. People have no problem with the notion that hardware costs $$ and there is no way around that. However, much like the brain is able to think of $19.95 not being $20.00, we also think of the hardware purchase as the end of the money trail. But with things like PhotoShop, Microsoft Office and so on you can easily double (some day triple) the amount of money required to use your hardware for productivity and image editing. That’s obviously not something that the brain automatically factors in when going to get that computer.

Comments (22)
  1. .. says:

    Thats why the rest of the world downloads software from P2P networks (DirectConnect, Gnutella, Kazza) and IRC.

  2. .. says:

    Btw thanks for that copy of Visual Studio 2003 you mailed me free of charge. I will be sure to distribute it on the p2p networks.

  3. .. says:

    Yeah and if you have anymore of those serial activation keys, mail them like last time.

  4. Rogers Justin says:

    Don’t forget usenet, emule, edonkey(punch), shareaza, and of course the every popular darling BitTorrent.

    All by far the best way to test new software 😉

  5. Omar Shahine says:

    Interesting that all the anon posts above originate from

  6. .. says:

    Interesting that all local hosts posts originate from INGENIUS!

  7. Rogers Justin says:

    Methinks Omar likes to spend most nights pinging his localhost for root 😀

  8. Annita Krapp says:

    If you work in the Mac BU then surely you can just go and use the site license on PS CS 😀 Nobody will be the wiser.

  9. Tejas Patel says:

    Linked to my blog.


  10. Tejas Patel says:

    Very valid point Omar.

  11. Conrad says:

    Another thing is software price doesn’t go down. Windows 2000 still cost the same as when it first came out. Even though there is a newer version of Windows in the market. You can always buy one generation off hardware for a much cheaper price but there is no such thing in software.


  12. Annita Krapp says:

    You expect us to pay for something that the company wont take liability for? Dont be daft. You expect us o pay for something that you arnt held accountable for. Silly boy.

  13. Annita Krapp says:

    Pay for software, you are a comedian. Pass the laughter box.

  14. I once wanted to buy myself a nice Photoshop educational license, but when I found out that thsoe licenses are on personal basis and may anly be used for strict educational purposes (imaging for study related documentation and study related website work) and never for any private use (eg editing personal photo’s and creating creative christmas cards), no exceptions.

    I find this a pretty strict rule for the high price one has to pay. And I decided not to get the educational thing.

    I tried Paintshop pro (can do most stuff, but doesn’t have the full power of photoshop and I’m used to the photoshop interface as I use it at work), the GIMP under windows (pretty nice now that they’ve reached 2.0-, but it’s a paint that it won’t work nice with unicode symbol fonts (like webdings) which crashes the whole app in a matter of seconds). I also tried Corel Photopaint (for which I received a full license after a beta testing track for Corel) but it’s more like Coreldraw with some raster features than I’d like).

    So I finally decided to upgrade from Photoshop5, which came with my secondhand HP 6100c scanner. Still costs a fortune, but in the end it’s much nicer than all the alternatives.

  15. Ben Dover says:

    Buy adobe? Your nuts right? Meanwhiel back in the land of the Real, everybody and theyre cat has a copy.

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