Not time yet
Best Argument: Yes, now!
Audience Favored: Not time yet (68%)
Stop the madness
Ed Bott: Shrink-wrapped software is so analog and sooooo last century. It belongs on a list with afternoon newspapers, VHS tapes, and rotary phones.
The problem isn't the physical package. Instead, it's the idea that software releases can be frozen in time and maintained in that static state for years. That might have made sense in the days when bits had to be shipped on physical media. But this is 2013. C'mon.
Software changes quickly, and if you want to get security fixes and new features, you need to move just as quickly. Google has been successful using regular automatic updates and Chrome-hosted apps. Microsoft's experience with Office 365 is also promising.
Maintaining multiple versions of software imposes a serious engineering burden on software developers. Right now, for example, Microsoft is supporting five different versions of Windows. That's a tremendous waste of engineering resources, with equal amounts of waste on the client's side, managing those deployments.
The sooner we get off the update management treadmill and transition to continuously improving software, the more productive we'll all be.
It's all about lowering risk.
Ken Hess: It's easy for me to argue the 'Yes' side of this question by saying things such as, "It's 2013, software should be delivered as-a-Service, or via ISO, or by App stores." And those are fine arguments--for consumers but not at all for businesses. ISOs are nothing new. App stores really aren't all that new. And cloud-based software offerings aren't all that new either. But their relative newness makes them seem risky.
What you have to think about for businesses is the very old concept of risk. Risk plays a major role in business and the decisions made around it. Businesses spend billions of dollars per year to reduce and mitigate risk. Having a physical piece of software and its accompanying license reduces risk.
If I have a CD or DVD of a legitimate product on my premises, registered to my company, no one can say that I have violated a copyright, patent, or licensing requirement for that product. That physical product is my assurance and my safety net against such accusations. The risks associated with a license dispute, an accusation of software piracy, or a copyright infringement suit are too great to forfeit that shrink-wrapped, paid-for, official copy to in exchange for a few blips on a computer screen.
A physical copy can't be hacked into or compromised over the Internet. It can't be erased with an accidental slip of the finger. Nor can it be denied legitimacy. Not so of cloud-based software or online subscriptions. That physical asset has value. It has more perceived value than its online equivalent does. Maybe that's a matter of perception but perception is reality.
It is not time for businesses to give up on physical software assets or on the prospect of reducing risk. Shrink-wrapped software gives business owners peace of mind that there's something in the cabinet that says, "I purchased that software license. It's mine. I have physical proof."