Act! Subscriptions & Permanent Licenses

The Complete Guide to Act! Subscriptions & Permanent Licenses

Last Updated: Feb 10th, 2016

History of Licensing

Act! has been around since 1987 – through 18 versions, completely re-written 3 times, and changed ownership by 5 companies.  Licensing policy has changed quite a bit with it.

Historically, the trend in the software world has been to purchase a one-time license key, then use that same edition as long as possible until another upgrade became absolutely necessary.

The norm has been shaken up in the past few years.  For example, Microsoft has began selling subscription licenses for their Office 365 products.  Users pay a smaller annual fee, and in return they are entitled to free updates and maintenance features.

Act! has jumped on board with this new subscription trend.

Three Ways to Buy Act! (For Now...)

Swiftpage, the owners of Act!, is currently in a transitional period to the new subscription pricing.  For v18 upgrades, there are three licensing options.  Their future goal is eventually to have subscription be the only option.

1. Act! Premium Subscription

Annual renewal mandatory.  Unlimited support from Swiftpage included.  Upgrades to future releases of Act! Premium are automatically provided as they become available.  Swiftpage’s goal is to have everyone on an active subscription.  Ultimately new features in the future will be available only to active subscribers.

2. Act! Premium Perpetual

Annual renewal optional.  One-time cost is 2x the cost of 1-yr subscription.  Includes one year of maintenance & updates from date of purchase.  This option is comparable to the previous upgrade method of purchasing Act! Premium licenses permanently as needed.

3. Act! Pro

One-time purchase.  Permanent license.  No support plan included & no free upgrades.  You can always call us for support as-needed at our hourly rate.  v18 will likely be the last version of Pro released.

Which Act! Premium Plan is Right for You?

There is so much to say here, as the author of this page I hardly know where to begin.  I’d even request that you stop reading here and call us at (716) 837-5727 to discuss a recommendation by phone.  Every use case has so many ins/outs and specific needs that it is difficult to type it all.

To summarize:

  • Overall, we don’t see much value in Option 2: The Premium Perpetual License;
  • Anybody currently using & enjoying Act! Pro should strongly consider upgrading to Pro v18 while they still can;
  • The premium subscription provides good value to companies with 5+ users who want to keep all software running smoothly.
  • The monthly payments cost more, so ignore them. E.g., pay $25/mo or $250/yr.  We like the annual pricing better.

To expand on that:

Premium subscription starts at $250/user/year.  You’ll always be on the latest version of Act! and have support at your disposal.  If you choose not to renew your plan, Act! will deactivate.  In the near future, Act! will require an active subscription for certain 3rd party add-ons (like QuickBooks integration or HandHeld Contact) to continue functioning.

The Premium Perpetual License list price is $500/user.   Includes one year of support and maintenance.  After one year expires, you’ll have the option to renew at $250/user for one additional year contract of support and upgrades.  If you decide not to renew, Act! does not deactivate.

Plan Ahead: Our experience shows us that Act! upgrades become necessary after roughly 3 years due to rapidly changing technology.

Act! v18, the newest edition, currently works with Windows 10 and Microsoft Office 2016.  So if you buy a perpetual or pro license, it will all work great!  But what about the future?  In the year 2020, there will probably be Windows 11 and Microsoft Office 2020.  Understandably, Act! v18 cannot possibly support these nonexistent products, so there will always be an ongoing need for updates and upgrades.

This is why we don’t feel the Perpetual licenses are a good value.  The price is equivalent to 2 years’ of premium subscription, but you only get one.  And it’s generally after the 3rd year that you find an Act! upgrade becomes necessary again.  Additionally, without an active support plan, you may find certain 3rd party add-ons are ineligible to work with your setup.  The only major benefit to perpetual is that Act! will not deactivate if you choose not to renew — but the decision not to renew is often tied closely with not using Act! at all anymore.

The ultimate goal of Swiftpage is to standardize the entire platform of Act!.

  • No more Act! Pro vs Premium – just Act!
  • No more Act! v17 or Act! v18, etc. – just one current version of Act!
  • All 2.8 million users eventually consolidated onto one version, one platform.
  • Focus development resources exclusively on the most recent release instead of spending time adding backwards-compatibility for older versions.

We support this vision.  A large number of our support calls are from users on older versions of Act!, who are having issues with some glitch that has already been fixed in the newer versions.  It would be best if everyone was always upgraded to the latest and greatest via subscription.

Act! Pro

Act! Pro was originally called Act! Standard, back in the day.  It was intended to be a more inexpensive version targeted at small “Mom & Pop” businesses, generally with only 1-4 users.  It sold for half the price of Act! Premium, but did not include the enterprise features (such as online server database hosting, user teams, and tighter restrictions on users).

Act! Pro still commands quite a market, but Swiftpage is seeking to retire it.  Act! Pro v18 is likely the last version of Pro ever released.  We’ve heard vague hints that a Pro v19 might be possible in Winter 2016, but don’t count on it.

Act! Pro v18 is a one-time purchase of $199.  It does not include any ongoing fees.  It will never deactivate.  There is no included free support, nor included free updates  (You can always call us at Twelve/Three and pay for support as needed – that’s why we’re here!).

Act! Pro v18 fully supports Windows 10 & MS Office 2016.  If you are currently just a ‘small-time’ Act! user, we strongly recommend you get upgraded to v18.  This version will hold you in good compatibility for a few years.

Ultimately, a few years from now, you may find that Pro v18 does not work on some fancy new futuristic laptop you will buy.  You might have to switch to a subscription at that time.  But that day is far in the future, and for now don’t worry about it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's New in Act! v18?

The newest version of Act! is primarily focused on Windows 10 & Microsoft Office 2016 compatibility.

How many Act! user licenses do I really need?