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John Bokma's Hacking & Hiking

When software subscriptions really suck

August 26, 2016

Today I was greeted by Parallels Desktop with a warning telling me that if I was not going to renew my subscription Parallels would stop working.

I asked Parallels on Twitter for confirmation:

@ParallelsCares do I understand correctly: if I don't renew my subscription Parallels Desktop just stops working? Completely?

After 53 minutes I got the following reply:

@john_bokma: Hi,Yes- you are right, once your PD subscription expires it will no longer work( you will not be able to acces your VM). Thx,PR

To which I replied:

@ParallelsCares good luck with that, not going to pay for another year. Subpar Linux support, now this. Too close 2 ransomware for my taste.

I had already canceled the autorenew a few days ago. Overall I have not been very happy with Parallels Desktop. The virtual machine I use as my main development machine, still running Ubuntu 15.10, stopped showing a desktop back in February because of an update to Compiz. It took Parallels weeks to update Parallels tools in order to fix this.

While I managed to get a fix for this myself, make a new virtual machine and prevent Compiz from updating, followed by installing the software I needed, and copying all data over, it ate quite some time.

This was not the first issue, and based on the posts on their forum regarding Ubuntu 16.04, a long term supported release, issues like this will keep coming.

And that's why I don't understand why Parallels disables their software after a grace period of six days, thank you! It has to be updated for each new version of OS X, as far as I understand. And each new release of Ubuntu has required an update of Parallels Tools. So in my experience the software has already more than enough ways to provide a user with a very bad experience unless she or he keeps paying.

As I wrote in my tweet, this comes too close to ransomware. I am going to see if I can support xhyve or bhyve, on which its based, with my subscription fee. It's not much, but if more people join me, we might get a much better virtualization on OS X. And as Docker for Mac uses xhyve under the hood, which I plan to use really soon now, this is win-win. Maybe a kickstarter campaign for either xhyve or bhyve would not be a bad idea.