I've owned Vbulletin licenses for years.
It's a great product.
I am seriously considering switching to something else.
Because they obviously don't care about their existing customers.
Vbulletin emailed license holders earlier this evening to announce a "wonderful" presale event (I'm not even sure if the word "presale" even exists!)
If you have active licenses ie. that you've paid for AND renewed you can "avail' of a "discount" on v4 when it's released (no idea when that will be)
If, however, you have valid licenses that haven't been renewed ie. you paid for the software license but haven't paid the annual renewal fee, you are snookered. Plain and simple. There is no way to renew the v3.* license. You are forced to upgrade to a product that doesn't even exist yet.
To be honest, you're snookered both ways.
Even if you have an active valid owned license you still have to pay at least $130 to be able to get v4! (and that's supposedly a "generous" discount!)
Apart from anything else I'd wonder about the legality of their actions. If they'd been a bit clearer in their communications on this it would be one thing, but it seems to me that they've moved the goalposts significantly.
You could try to follow the debate over on the Vbulletin forums, but it looks like they're dealing with the feedback by deleting threads!
And for the curious, here's the full email they sent:
"Dear Michele Neylon,
We hope your community is enjoying the flexibility and power of vBulletin™. As always, our goal is to offer a great product at a great price, and we are dedicated to helping you build and grow successful online communities.
Over the last 12 months, we have been building vBulletin 4.0 to be the most powerful forum and social publishing software. Today, we are proud to introduce the new vBulletin 4.0 Publishing Suite product that includes the power of the vBulletin 4.0 Forums with a seamlessly integrated content management system (CMS) and blogging platform.
As a preferred customer with an active license, we are excited to offer the vBulletin Publishing Suite at a pre-sale discount price of only $130 (over 50% off regular price). This is a truly limited one-time special offer giving you $120 off the upgrade price but will expire on Friday October 30, 2009.
Learn more about vBulletin Publishing Suite features and pricing on our new website: http://www.vbulletin.com/
Beginning today, we are introducing new a license structure. vBulletin is changing to a one-time owned license fee for each major point release. That means no more annual renewal fees. Once you purchase a major point version, you'll receive maintenance, security and minor point releases for the life of 4.x.
You have the option to keep your current active license until it expires (according to the 12 month term and conditions). For the remainder of your active license, you will continue to receive support and have access to forum software updates, including vBulletin 4.0 Forums. Once your license expires you will only be able to access the 4 Series software updates by switching to the new one-time owned license. For more information, visit the vBulletin FAQ.
Over the last 10 years, our products have offered an exceptional value and we look forward to bringing you the best and keeping you as a loyal customer. Our team is expanding in number and expertise in order to develop more innovative features and to deliver them faster. We are investing in exciting development areas such as new products and services for 'Big Boards' and mobile applications and look forward to helping you grow your community.
The vBulletin Team"
Update 14/10/2009 @ 1030: Some interesting posts over on the Vbulletin forums, though a lot of threads are getting locked or deleted