Vbulletin was only a  forum application till 4.x versions and it had a relatively simple license system:

You purchased an owned license which allowed you to run vbulletin FOREVER in your site and allowed you to receive new versions and support for 1 year. After 1 year is up, you could pay a small fee to continue to receive new versions and support or if you don’t want to get new versions, you could stick with your current version forever without paying nothing.

Radical version releases didn’t change this system until now. For instance when you have vb 2.x, you could get new 3.x version when it is up when you paid that small “upgrade & support” price. You didn’t need to pay a larger amount just because 3.x is a different product.

Well, they changed this system now as of 14.October.2009. Now their license system is like Microsoft Windows license system: You don’t purchase the “application usage license” anymore, you purchase “version usage license”. For instance when you purchase “Windows XP” edition this allows you to use this product forever but when “Windows Vista” is released, you can’t upgrade it free, you have to get a new Windows Vista license.  Now same applies to Vbulletin: Your licenses applies to the lifespan of a version you bought and when a new major version is relased, you’ll need a new license to upgrade to this new major release. For instance when you purchase vbulletin 4.x, you’ll repay to upgrade vbulletin 5.x.

Due to this radical change, obviously there is a dismay among vbulletin customers and I’m afraid they’ll lose a lot of angry customers to competition these days. Well, it is their company, their marketting strategy and their loss (or gain) so I don’t want to comment on if new license system is “appropriate ” or not.

Instead, I want to focus their presale license sell announcement, they sent to all customers in 13 and 14th october via email, because many people are asking me if they should buy the pre-sale license from the discounted price.

The short answer to this question is: If you plan to upgrade your vbulletin to 4.x in 1 or 2 years, then yes I’d suggest you to go with the presale. Because when this sale is over, you have to buy 4.x license from full price (just like a brand new customer) and if you plan to upgrade to 4.x soon, then there is no need to pay more later when you can pay less now.

However if your board is hacked dramatically and you don’t know when to upgrade your board and you can even stick with your current version for a few years, then it is pointless to buy 4.x license at this point because while you were waiting, they can announce vbulletin 5.x and your 4.x license will be useless with 5.x. So if you are sticking with your current version for a while, then my suggestion is to pass this offer. When your upgrade time is due, you can then decide if you’ll go with the current version of the time or wait a little more and get the new version.

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