I've posted a few articles on why using proprietary software can hurt or damage customers. Today, I ran into an experience with a software vendor who called regarding a software package that runs on Windows, that is used on about 40 Windows PCs, and explained that it will be out of upgrade support in 5 days. After August 31, there will be no upgrade pricing available to go from the version being used on the PCs, to the latest version. And in roughly a year from now, no tech support will be offered for the currently used version of the product either. The software was released in 2005, so it's about 5 years old. There have been several versions released since then, and on one hand I can see that they want their customers to re-buy their software and pay for new versions. This undoubtedly makes support easier for them, as they don't have to support as many different versions. But on the other hand, they are essentially punishing customers for not upgrading by a certain date. This to me is bad practice. A discount, any discount at all, should be offered to a customer if they purchased any previous version of the software. This promotes return business and offers a way to establish long term customer relationships. Simply forcing the customer to re-buy by a certain date, then charging full price after that is absurd.
This behavior seems to be more and more common. The more specialized the software is, the more this seems to take place, too. The software vendors know their leveraging capabilities, and seem to adjust their pricing accordingly. They also lock in customers and use the same type of scheme that Microsoft does, thus forcing them to upgrade and pay over and over again.
As I have stated before, practice like this can be completely avoided by using open source software, which is immune to upgrade pricing, licenses, and other flaws of proprietary software. In the case here, I already know of an open source software package that could be used in its place, it's called gLabels. But this would involve a lot of migration that is difficult to overcome. The options need to be weighed out, and action taken.