Sep 3, 2009
Sanjeev Biswas and Kanika Dalmia are two core engineers in the licensing domain at Adobe. They write below about one of the common customer service calls and what we’re doing to fix it longer term. — Eric
The handling of license expiry in Adobe CS4 has been one of the highest customer calls generator for Adobe, with anxious customers calling in to find the way out of this dead-end.
This ‘License Expiry’ screen is all too familiar to many of us
In CS4, “License Expired. Licensing for this product has expired” was displayed to the user if either the software build had expired or if the serial number used to license the application had exhausted its validity and had expired. This was a hard-stop and it prevented the user from running the application again. In particular, the user of expiring serial numbers had no direct way to resolve the license expired state and renew his license with another serial number. This situation becomes more complicated when other Adobe applications / suites are installed and licensed on the machine. The user was blocked on this and ended up ringing customer support.
There has been a workaround to the License Expiry issue, wherein the user had to manually roll back the system clock by a few days to re-launch the application, and then deactivate the license with the “Help-> Deactivate” option with erase serial number preference set. This would remove the expired license and the corresponding serial number from the user system. So when the user resets the system date back, on subsequent application launch the user is presented the user interface to enter a new serial number.
In CS4 handling of license expiry, the user wasn’t reminded that the product’s license is about to be expired and also, the user was not given an opportunity to renew his license with a new serial number. The user was bound to use the workaround, to be able to run the application.
In our next version, the design of the license expiry workflow has been altered to effectively tackle all the issues in CS4 handling of license expiry.
In our next version, when the product is launched the check for license expiry is performed. If the serial number associated with the license has expired, the user would not be displayed a hard-stop alert as was done in CS4. Instead, the module responsible for licensing of the product would bring up a user interface. This license expiry user interface screen would
- Inform the user that the license in use has expired with an error message.
- Additionally, it would provide an option to the user to enter a new serial number to renew his expired license.
This is like a ‘bonus launch’ of the product as the product is giving a bonus opportunity to the user to renew his expired license by entering a new serial number. This eliminates the need for previously used workarounds, to bring up the user interface (serialization screen) for entering an alternative serial number in case of license expiry.
If the user does not use the ‘bonus launch’ of the product to renew his license, then on every subsequent launch of the product, the license expiry user interface would be displayed, prompting the user to enter a new serial number.
With this design, the user would no longer be blocked on license expiry. Just a new serial number is to be procured and provided in the user interface, to continue to run the application seamlessly.
Improving the user experience for all adobe products is one of the principal design consideration for the next version of our licensing solution and, through this approach, we aim to do just that and thereby also reduce the volume of technical support calls.