Tue 23 June 2009
I've been using Peaksware's WKO+, a cycling and running training tool to manage data from heart rate monitors, GPS units, power meters, etc. Its a powerful tool with a clunky UI but I've gotten used to it.
You pay $100 for a "personal" license. Not a big deal to me since they basically have a monopoly on this software niche. I first installed it on my work computer to test the data from my daily bike commute. Cool it works. Then I went to install it at home since that's where I'll be using it. Works ok. I proceed to gather all my fitness data into their proprietary binary format.
Fast forward a few months. I'm reformatting the hard drive on the laptop and want to move all my data and software to my desktop. But installing WKO+ is giving me a headache ("Error: Too many installations"). The registration process takes a hardware fingerprint and your must active it via the web to get a registration code. However, hidden withing their EULA, is a term which dissallows the transfer of license to another computer other than the one to which it was originally installed. The second installation was just an allowance they make to allow for "hard drive crashes" and such.
Since neither of those machines would be available to me, certainly there would be a way to transfer it? After several progressively more desperate communications with Matt Allen at peaksware support, he informed me that there was no way they would transfer the license (the non-transfer clause IS in the EULA after all). I would need to purchase another license simply because I switched computers!
Here is my response:
Basically what you are telling me is that I can no longer use WKO+
without paying again. I get to use the software for a few months and
you revoke my right to use it because I buy a new computer! I am a
paying customer, trying to be totally legit here, willing to support
your business in exchange for a license to use your software and you
insist on screwing me over. Brilliant.
This is one of the most unprofessional and idiotic stances I have ever
seen from a software company. Your intention appears to be to screw
over your paying customers and milk as much cash from them as possible
- you might want to rethink that business model unless you want to
loose customers! I will never endorse, recommend or purchase another
product or service from peaksware nor will any of my family, friends,
teammates or readers once the word gets out about your disrespectful
There are numerous typical situations where a new copy of the software
would need to be installed including:
- Hard drive failure
- Operating system upgrades
- New computer purchases
- Extended traveling and touring (installing onto a laptop or netbook)
Now I fully understand why your policy is one license per computer. It
makes perfect sense. I have seen plenty of other software with a
similar licensing model. But they also allow to uninstall the software
and re-register it on another computer due to these circumstances.
There is simply no technological reason why you could not implement a
licensing structure that allowed the user more freedom to transfer
licenses while still preventing piracy. As it stands, your licensing
model treats paying customers like criminals if they happen to run
across any one of the above situations.
So, to sum it up - your foolish license policy has lost you one
customer and many future ones.
So if you want to support a company that treats its paying customers like criminals because they get a new computer, go right ahead and support Peaksware. But anyone who expects to use software that they pay for even if they happen to buy a new computer should steer clear.
The real kicker is that all that work is locked away in their proprietary file format simply because of their draconian licensing. This is the real take home lesson to all software users (not just fitness geeks): If you lock your data away in a proprietary format and are beholden to a single company in order to access it, they can and will screw you. Always insist on open data formats, even if using proprietary software. Oh and always read the EULA carefully before clicking OK!