The trend of late is to rent software to you, instead of outright selling it. Programs such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop are now available to rent on a monthly basis, as opposed to the more traditional model of buying the software and owning it forever.
Some companies, such as Microsoft and Adobe, still allow users to outright buy, or rent their wares. The question is, which is better? Which should you choose?
As a computer teacher I'm exposed to many, many different computer systems, spread across a large geographic area. I've seen all manner of installations, some using the renting model, and some using the standalone purchase model. For me personally, I have found it much more stable and reliable to use systems with the standalone software installed.
Here's the reasons:
1) Standalone software does not require an internet connection, username, or a password to operate. The renting model requires active internet connections whenever you use the software, and also you often must supply a username/password or else you cannot use the software. This is the case with Adobe. With Microsoft software, it's a bit fuzzier: if you buy the standalone version, you can use the software if you don't have an active internet connection, but you still have to sign in to access all the features.
2) I've run into situations where the internet was down, or the needed usernames/passwords were missing. This creates unnecessary headaches for the user who just wants to get things done.
3) While it may seem like the renting model is cheaper, at "only" $49/month for Adobe products, or a range of prices for Microsoft products, the truth is these companies use the renting model for a reason. They make more money doing it, or they wouldn't do it. Think about it. If you rent the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite for $49/month, in a year's time you've paid Adobe $588. Given that the various components of the suite retails for prices ranging from $400 to $700, this seems like a bargain. But not so fast. After shelling out for such programs, users normally tend to hang on to their copies for 2-3 years or more without upgrading, and when they do upgrade, they pay less. In the long run, Adobe makes a lot more money and has a guaranteed steady income.
4) Standalone products tend to work more reliably. Because companies such as Adobe are constantly kicking new versions of their software out the door - I jokingly tell my students that Photoshop is upgraded every 5 minutes - it also means that things don't work as smoothly. There's more bugs. More quirks. And although some will argue that the bug fixes also are created more often, the truth is that there are simply more bugs to begin with when companies are constantly upgrading their software. It's annoying and counter-productive.
5) The programs tend to change, often. So often that you need to relearn basic things, sometimes, often. That's downright annoying. Just a couple of days ago I was teaching Photoshop to a group, and one of the computers had Photoshop CC 2015.01, and another had Photoshop CC 2015.15. Well, the interface is different! Menu items had changed, and an entire screen was missing on the "older" version (older by a few months). This takes productivity down, and causes more headaches.
6) Once you stop paying to rent software, you can't use it anymore. If you buy it, you still own it. I hate paying for things perpetually. Leaves a bad taste.
This may sound like a negative rant. And it is. It used to be that companies produced the best product they could, and then stood behind it while they created a new version. They fully supported the issues, and the software was more stable and predictable. With major companies like Microsoft and Adobe going to a subscription/rental model, it becomes harder and harder to stay afloat even with basic functionality.
I've always loved the bells and whistles of new ideas. But some ideas are half-baked, and some hinder productivity and cause stress that needn't be there.
Consider buying the standalone version of a product vs the subscription model for the reasons I mentioned. I bought Photoshop CS3 and still have it. It does just about everything the latest greatest does, but I haven't had bugs and headaches using it. Nor have I continued to pay for it the last several years.
Caveat Emptor! ;)