POPULAR REMOTE DESKTOP Logmein has suddenly announced the end of its free service offering.
The screen sharing service that allows users to access remote machines and provide technical support to others has been a lifeline for small enterprise and personal users alike, allowing experts to fix Auntie Nora's computer without the inevitable question, "Which one is the cursor?"
However, on Monday morning users were greeted with a pop-up that said, "To continue using remote access, you'll need to purchase an account subscription of Logmein Pro. As a loyal user, you're entitled to discounted introductory pricing, with packages starting at $49/year for two computers.
"Your new account includes our signature remote access with premium features like remote printing, file transfer and cloud data access, plus desktop and mobile apps to improve your experience.
"Please note: If you do not take action, the Free computers highlighted in your account will become inaccessible on 29/01/2014. Only 7 days left!"
In a statement, company spokesman Craig Ver Colen explained, "We introduced Logmein and our freemium model 10 years ago, and it proved great at attracting mobile professionals while allowing us to disrupt the then early-stage remote access market.
"The reality is that the remote access market evolved. The behaviour and needs of mobile professionals evolved. We'd like to think we've evolved with it. Over the years we've expanded our portfolio and applied the freemium model to new growth markets.
"In fact, today, more than 70 [percent] of our first-time [users] are introduced to us via join.me, our online meeting and collaboration offering. More than anything, this change reflects the maturing state of the access market, the need for a more modern access experience, and our desire to focus our freemium approach on growth opportunities."
In other words, at first the service was free to get you hooked, but now it will cost you.
Aside from the withdrawal of the free service, the lack of notice has made many users angry. One member of the community asked, "Would this situation merit a class action suit against LMI for worldwide sales of a product (ignition) that they knew was going to be discontinued in part (relating to the Free desktop portion) without gving prior notice?" Another user suggested an indiegogo campaign to fund a lawsuit.
It seems unlikely that the matter will reach the courts, however Logmein might want to rethink the length of the notice period it has given to its loyal customer base. We've requested further comment from Logmein. µ