How Parallels lost a customer

posted by Jeff | Friday, December 9, 2016, 10:39 PM | comments: 0

The thing that convinced me to buy my first Mac, back in 2006, was the adoption of Intel processors. Prior to that, Stephanie had what I think they were calling an iBook at the time, and I really liked it. But switching to Intel CPU's meant they could also run Windows, and they intentionally set up the operating system so you could dual boot between the two operating systems. I was sold. It wasn't long before Parallels Desktop was released, a product that allowed you to run Windows as a virtual machine without leaving OS X. The performance was for the most part good enough that the dual boot arrangement wasn't necessary. For a Windows developer who enjoyed the Mac hardware, it was a perfect arrangement.

I continued to upgrade the product over the years, about once every 18 to 24 months, so I would generally skip a version. A couple of months ago, I upgraded from v10 to v12. In this case, I was looking for compatibility to be at its best with MacOS Sierra, because the disk sharing between OS's was a little wonky (it kept adding broken C-drive aliases to Finder windows). I paid my sixty bucks, and went about my business.

Then an update came with various "fixes." Among them was a "fix" that made sure that my VM could no longer use the 16 gigs I had it set for in v10. You see, they changed the feature set to limit you to 8 gigs of virtual RAM, which is exactly what I don't want on my iMac with 24 gigs of RAM. My VM was crippled, making some of the goofy edge cases I deal in, with multiple instance of Visual Studio open and SQL Server running in the background, very cramped.

Here's the kicker though... I asked for a refund since they broke my VM, but they wouldn't give it to me because it was beyond the 30-day money-back offer. The truth is, I would have asked for my money back if it wasn't for the fact that the "fix" didn't break it until after 30 days. Had the upgrade marketing materials made the change obvious (and none of them did... I have the screenshots to prove it), I would never have upgraded in the first place.

So the dance with their India-based support went like this. First they told me I could basically go fuck myself, then they offered 90% off the "professional" subscription product, which did not have the memory restriction. After some go around, they then offered me 50% off. Yeah, they decreased the offer. After telling them I would actively avoid recommending or licensing the product ever again, they gave me the subscription offer for free, for one year. When they asked me if that was acceptable, I said I would drop them after the year, and switch to VMWare's Fusion at the end of the term. Apparently, I'm not the only one who cried foul, because they made the same offer to everyone who bought the product within a certain time window.

It's disappointing that they went that route. It's obvious that they wanted to me to jump into their subscription-based scheme, but I'm not having it. I get subscription-based software, and I'm OK with it, but only if it's either a pure SaaS product, or there's some significant hosted component to it. Heck, I pay Vimeo $60 a year and barely use it, because I like the service and they do everything right. But pay annually for something that fundamentally doesn't change, has no hosted component and doesn't add significant value? Hell no. That's why I haven't given Adobe a dime since 2011. For the amount I use Photoshop and Premier, I'll skip hundreds per year for that. The Photoshop I paid for five years ago still works.

So yes, I'll switch to VMWare Fusion in a year, and Parallels can suck it.


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