Understandably, Steinberg are taking a different approach with products they intend to issue a paid update for in the next 6-12 months and products that are unlikely to receive an update in that timeframe. WaveLab 11, Backbone and Groove Agent 5 have been migrated to Steinberg Licensing, HALion and HALion Sonic seem destined to move to Steinberg Licensing on a paid version update. I am not aware of any indication on whether The Grand is to migrate or whether there will be a new paid update to The Grand.
Absolute doesn’t fit very well with this two-track approach. No matter what Steinberg does, someone will say “that’s unfair”.
SpectraLayers 8 gained Steinberg Licensing support so that new Cubase 12 and Nuendo 12 licence holders (who did not have an eLicenser licence for an older version of Cubase or Nuendo) could use SpectraLayers One. Steinberg didn’t allow SpectraLayers 8 Pro and SpectraLayers 8 Elements licence holders to migrate to Steinberg Licensing - the only way to move a paid SpectraLayers licence to Steinberg Licensing is updating to SpectraLayers 9, which was released yesterday. Is that unfair to SpectraLayers 8 licence holders? Should Steinberg offer migration when they can?
Padshop 2 and Retrologue 2 had minor releases that added Steinberg Licensing support so that it was possible to use them with a Cubase Artist 12, Cubase Pro 12 or Nuendo 12 licence. I believe standalone licences for Padshop 2 and Retrologue 2 remain on eLicenser with no ability to migrate to Steinberg Licensing, even though it would be trivial for Steinberg to offer migration now; the voucher system has bedded down and there are already Steinberg Licensing releases of the applications.
There are other arguably unfair situations that are not to do with Steinberg Licensing. Dorico for iPad is separately licenced to Dorico for Windows/Mac OS. A basic feature set, broadly comparable to the free Dorico SE, is available on the iPad for free. iPad users get a feature set broadly comparable to Dorico Elements by buying a subscription or a lifetime unlock (including all future upgrades) from the App Store. I get the full Dorico Pro feature set on my tablet without additional payment because I own Dorico Pro 4 and my tablet is a Surface Pro. Is this fair? Really, Steinberg had little alternative to making Dorico for iPad a separate product because of the App Store policies about purchases made outside the App Store. Meanwhile, any Dorico 4 licence holder is free to purchase a Windows tablet if they wish.
The Dorico for iPad situation is replicated with Cubasis, only there is no free tier of Cubasis. Cubasis LE, the limited feature version bundled with some hardware, is only available on iOS. If you want the full version of Cubasis, you have to buy it even if you own Cubase or Nuendo.
I can use Nuendo 12 without a dongle, but:
- the DNxHD video plugin is still on eLicenser (and is not soft eLicenser compatible)
- VST Connect Pro 5.5 is still on eLicenser (and is not soft eLicenser compatible)
- Nuendo 12 is not stable on my main system (which is getting the point where it needs a fresh Windows install)
I can use Nuendo 12 without a dongle - which is exactly what I do on my Surface Pro. However, I have to work without DNxHD or VST Connect Pro 5.5 unless I am prepared to plug in my USB eLicenser.
This is a time of transition. The messiness of the current half and half licensing system will eventually go away. I expect to pay to update to Absolute 6, but I will get HALion 7 in return. Hopefully HALion 7 is such an improvement over HALion 6 that paying for the update seems worthwhile; Absolute 5 was a lukewarm release, especially for those like me who already owned the two biggest additions (Backbone and Electric Bass). I expect the DNxHD plugin and all my content pack licences to migrate to Steinberg Licensing. I feel VST Connect Pro could go either way - I feel it is most likely to migrate but maybe there will be a paid update.