Well the firestorm of controversy that swept across the blogosphere after the announcement on Thursday has definitely had an effect, though it’s hard to say if it’ll make a lot of difference for some people. Six Apart has come out with a clarification and adjustment to the licensing schemes for MT3D.
Here’s a rundown on what’s changed: The restriction on running on servers with only 1 CPU wasn’t meant to be in the licenses in the first place and has been struck from it as of now. If you’re already running version 2.661 and do not wish to upgrade your license is not changing from the one you agreed to at the time you downloaded 2.661 so you can still make as many weblogs and authors as you like. For folks who make use of multiple weblogs as parts of a single weblog you don’t have to worry about counting the sub-weblogs as part of your total license usage. As far as Six Apart is concerned a “weblog” is everything that can be accessed from a single URL so if you use 5 weblogs to create parts of a single one at http://www.yourfunkythoughts.com then they consider that still a single weblog as far as the license is considered. That alone will be a big relief to many people. Also, inactive authors and/or weblogs that you are keeping around for archival purposes will NOT count toward your license limits.
Now for the adjustments to pricing. The biggest question for most of us, myself included, was the limits on number of authors and weblogs on the personal licenses. The thinking behind the scaled licenses was simple and perfectly reasonable: Someone who hosts 50 weblogs for his buddies should have to pay more than someone who hosts a weblog for themselves. Six Apart admits that the volume licensing they came up with didn’t address a number of different scenarios all that well so they’re going to adjust things a bit:
For the Personal Edition, we’re increasing the number of allowed authors from 3 to 5. The number of allowed weblogs will still be 5.
We’re adding a new “Personal Edition Add-On” package that gives someone who has purchased a Personal Edition license the ability to buy 1 new weblog and 1 new author for $10. You can purchase as many additional author/weblog packs as you want, each for $10.
The volume licensing for the personal edition will be eliminated, but if you’ve already bought one of the packages listed you’ll receive a new license which will increase your blog and author limits. Personal Edition Volume I will go up to 10 authors and blogs and Volume II will go up to 13 of each. The price for the personal license, however, remains unchanged and there’s no change in the blog/author restrictions on the free version.
OK this helps the situation for a lot of MT fans out there, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. Here’s what staying with MT3 would mean for me:
Of the 9 authors I currently have defined, I could probably delete one of them as he’s never made use of the account (Hairboy). I’d been keeping it around on the off-chance he wanted to use it. Eric hasn’t used his in awhile, but I’d still consider it an “active” account. The Minx’s account hasn’t been used since last year’s Blogathon so it could be considered inactive, but kept for archival purposes. The same is true for a guest account I set up for my sister’s niece when she was guest blogging for her. So I could reasonably declare that I have 6 active authors I’d have to cover with licenses.
Now I have 7 blogs total. I could possibly argue that the Jenkins Online site is “inactive” and kept for archival purposes though the truth is we just haven’t been very good at updating it. The other six are all still active and are all definitely distinct blogs unto themselves. So this means I’d need a license that would cover at a minimum 6 blogs/authors and possibly 7 blogs/authors if I started making use of Jenkins Online like I keep intending to.
Under this new plan that means I’m spending between $79.90 to $89.85 if I sign up right now or $109.90 to $119.85 if I sign up later. If I come up with a new idea for a new blog later or want to add in an author I’ll have to bump up by another $10. That’s still some hard numbers to swallow at this point in time considering what the competition is offering and when you factor in that 3.0D isn’t coming with a boatload of new goodies it makes the decision even harder.
Now, in all fairness, they’ve implied that the General Release in a couple of months is where the goodies are going to show up, but it’s also clear that it looks like they’re going to rely on third parties to come up with those goodies for them through the Developer Plugin contest they announced. One would hope that there would also be plenty of Six Apart plugins tossed into the general release as well, but there’s no guarantee that will be the case. So as it stands right now it’s not worth the money for me to upgrade and continue to use MT. At least, not without a clear understanding of what I should be able to expect in the way of plugins once the general release hits the Net.
Spending $80 to $90 right now for a version that comes with the promise of greater things is a tough sell when I could go spend $45 on pMachine Pro and get a lot of what I want right this second without any limits on number of blogs or authors. If I wait until the general release to see what kind of goodies I would get I run the risk of the intro pricing offer being discontinued and my total cost going up to a point where I would be comparing the general release versus a package like ExpressionEngine at $149 and then the goodies included had better be pretty damned impressive to overcome the limitations on authors/blogs, on which EE has no such limits. That’s totally disregarding the fact that I just got a free personal license to EE or that they plan on offering discounted pricing in the near future to folks who want to jump ship.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with the idea that someone with 50 blogs should pay more than someone with 3, but when you consider the prices being asked and the lack of new features in comparison to the rest of the packages that cost money and don’t impose limits on blogs/authors it makes it hard to justify the price in my mind. The whole reason I never jumped ship to pMachine Pro way back when it was first released even though it offered more of what I wanted was that $45 price tag. Sure, it offered more but not by such a great amount that it overshadowed the fact that MT was free. When I factored in the fact that I could come very close to pMachine Pro’s goodies using plugins on MT the choice was easy. If I were making that same decision today I’d probably end up buying pMachine Pro. MT3.0D doesn’t match up feature-wise to pMachine Pro right now. It costs $25 more and has limits on authors/blogs that pMachine Pro doesn’t.
On another blog Anil Dash asked what it would take to make the licenses work right. Here’s what it would take from me:
Ideally the price for personal licenses should come down considerably. Using the $9.95 per blog/author rule they set up I’d say that the price for the base 5/5 personal license shouldn’t be any higher than $50. That’s still $5 more expensive than pMachine Pro which is unrestricted so if it were me I’d take it even lower, but it’s still better than the $70 price they’re asking now. Admittedly, this still wouldn’t convince me to buy MT3 over pMachine as they currently stand, but if the general release has decent goodies to go with it then this price level would be a lot more palatable. At the very least the intro price should become the standard price. $100 is going to be a big barrier for a lot of people. They may start with the free version and as soon as they hit a limit they’ll jump ship.
For me to even consider staying at the current pricing I would have to told right now what I should expect in the way of new goodies come the general release. I want a list that says: “In addition to whatever cool stuff comes out of the contest, we plan to introduce the following plugins at the time of general release…” That list would have to include the following:
- The File Manager functionality from TypePad. MT needs this badly and it’s one of the things I’ve been looking for in other packages for a long time now. Pivot has something like it already and it doesn’t even use a mySQL database.
- The Insert Image/File functionality from TypePad. Again, this is something that MT has needed for a very long time.
- Category Hierarchy as promised for MT Pro. David Raynes is already beta testing a 3.0 compatible version of his SubCategories plugin so this is one requirement that’s being met.
- Improved Notifications as promised for MT Pro. No idea what the actual plans were for that, but what MT has now definitely needs improvement. Chad Everett is looking at what it would take to port MT-Notifier to 3.0 and that would make me happy to a degree, but that should be one aspect of a much improved notification system for MT. In my mind both Chad and David should be contracted by Six Apart to develop those two plugins in agreement to make them part of the core of MT like they did with Jay Allen’s search hack. I don’t think either of these two fine gentlemen would object to that.
- Photo Album Integration as promised for MT Pro. Whether it’s the same as what’s in TypePad is really up to them, but SOMETHING would be nice as my wife keeps bugging me about it.
- TypeLists like at TypePad would be icing on the cake. This one isn’t something I’d HAVE to have to consider sticking with MT, but its inclusion certainly would be an added bonus.
If I were told that these things would be in the general release I’d be much more likely to sign on now at the intro pricing. Additional things that would be icing on the cake, but not essential would include:
- Threaded comments. I really want threaded comments.
- A better user registration system of some sort that would allow regular visitors to track everything that’s new since the last time they visited. Entries, comments, whatever.
- An event calendar would be lovely.
- Polls would be nice too.
Without knowing that this stuff lies in wait for the general release I’m left to compare MT3 with everything else on the market at this time and even if I ignore the free and open source projects, MT3 doesn’t stack up well against the other pay-for-play offerings for the simple reason that they offer one thing that MT3 doesn’t and that’s the lack of restrictions on blogs/authors. Right, wrong, or otherwise that’s something that is a big consideration for a lot of us.
Right now it’s looking like I’ll be leaving MovableType behind which isn’t necessarily something I’m happy about. The fact that I managed to snag a free license to ExpressionEngine is certainly a factor in this. Someone pointed out to me that the license is for one year and then they may charge for the next version and this is very true, but this is the same with MT3 going forward as well. Six Apart has already stated that major new releases may incur an upgrade charge.
Just the same, I might not use EE for running Stupid Evil Bastard. I’m still considering using Drupal for that as it has some of the comment features I want and EE doesn’t. I will probably put EE to use to run the rest of the blogs I have here such as my wife’s, my sister’s, my daughter’s, my mother’s and Jenkins Online and Michigan Blogs.
So what about the rest of you? You sticking around or looking elsewhere?