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What’s the real cost of making Milestone Essential free?

Milestone XProtect Essential and ExpressMilestone has worked hard to nurture XProtect into a mature and comprehensive Video Management Software (VMS) suite and this year they’ve been pruning their offering to promote further growth. We’ve seen the phasing out of Milestone Enterprise and now a further trim has been announced.

Starting October 10th 2016 – Milestone XProtect Go, the free VMS product will be discontinued and Milestone Essential will take its place as Milestone’s free VMS. When this happens, Milestone Express will take up its position as the entry-level product in the “paid-for” software suite.

These changes make sense in many ways and bring distinct benefits for many entry-level users, but unsurprisingly, there will be some limitations in the newly positioned Milestone Essential. It’s these limitations that need careful consideration and based on what we’ve learned so far, it appears that for many users, it may actually make more sense to use Milestone Express.

What’s changing?

From October 10th you’ll be able to download Milestone XProtect Essential for free. That gives you access to a fully functional, feature-rich VMS at no cost and with no limit to the video retention time (Milestone XProtect Go had a limit of 5 days). So what’s the catch?

The catch is the number of cameras that can be connected – the free version of Essential will support up to 8 cameras. That’s just like Milestone XProtect Go but if you think you can you see where Milestone are going with this, here’s the kicker: Users can expand their system by purchasing new Milestone XProtect Essential subscription packs and these subscriptions must be renewed every year – a subscription pack includes 8 camera licences and 1 year of Care Plus. A total of 5 subscription packs can be added, which means a system on Essential could potentially support up to 48 cameras in total… at a cost.

We await clarification from Milestone regarding any changes to Express’s traditional base and camera licence approach (where the base licence currently includes 2 free camera licences) and any changes to Care Plus (where the first year is currently free). We’ll keep you updated as we get the full picture.

Update – 20/10/16: since Milestone implemented these changes on October 10th, we’ve learnt more about some limitations with the new free 8ch version of Essential. Unlike its discontinued predecessor, it does NOT include one year of Care Plus which allows users to make the necessary software updates to deal with bugs, vulnerabilities and performance improvements. The absence of Care Plus also means that the following features are NOT available:

  • Push Notifications
  • Smart Connect
  • Customer Dashboard

These features are only available if a customer buys the 8ch Essential annual subscription at £370 per year – which includes Care Plus. Or, they will need to use Express with Care Plus.

We’ve always recommended Care Plus to customers, and so does Milestone because it helps protect your investment but the 8ch annual Essential subscription is a far more expensive option than using Express with Care Plus.

Choosing Essential or Express?

There are several factors to weigh up when choosing to use Essential or Express, for both existing and new users. The number of cameras in your system, the ability to archive video data to Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices and scalability will be key considerations.

Essential does not support the archiving of data and this feature is increasingly more important for even the smallest of organisations. With the proliferation of higher resolution IP cameras and longer data storage requirements for evidence gathering, the archiving of data to NAS is becoming a standard feature that users look for.

Bear in mind that a restructure to pricing and licences as a result of these impending changes from Milestone could make a big difference to the initial investment and running costs of your video surveillance system.

If you’re a new user about to purchase XProtect and you’re unsure which product to use, just give us a call and we can discuss your requirements to work out the best option.

Incentives to upgrade

If you’re an existing Milestone XProtect Essential user and need to make the move to Express, we have good news.

When the changes happen on the 10th of October, some nice incentives to upgrade will be available. Users that already have a valid Milestone Care Plus plan can upgrade to Milestone XProtect Express for free. For users that don’t currently have Milestone Care Plus in place, they can upgrade by purchasing three years of Milestone Care Plus at a 50% discount. These offers will be valid until 31st December 2016.

If you’re an existing Milestone XProtect Essential user and need advice about upgrading, contact us – we’ll be happy to help.

Published on September 15th, 2016 by Network Webcams

5 Responses to “What’s the real cost of making Milestone Essential free?”

  1. Matt Eckman says:

    I'm disappointment in Milestone. I sold many Essential systems to folks, telling them that they could add cameras at any time. So if I sold them a 12 cameras system, and they wanted to add 3 more cameras, they would pay for: qty; (12) camera support licenses and (3) new camera licenses. And no annual fees ever! So being able to add cameras a reasonable cost was a selling feature I noted to my customers. Now, when they want to add 3 more cameras I have to tell them the game has changed, and your software is worth nothing now because you need to start all over again and purchase a much more expensive system (Expert) as Essential only goes to 8 cameras without having to "rent" the next 8 cameras forever each year.

    What Milestone should have done is created a new product, and left Essential alone, even as a legacy product -discontinuing new base licenses, but you would still honor the ability for people to add units under their old agreement. When people purchase things, they don't expect you to change the rules. They trusted you!

  2. Jereme says:

    Some of this does look positive, and it looks like they were trying to address some issues with the prior pricing model where it was just too expensive for home users to make the jump to Essential.

    Unfortunately, $400/yr is still far too steep for small businesses or home owners. Unless you want a temporary solution with no more than one subscription pack it just does not pencil out. You can easily get a full fledged monitored security system for that price.

    Cut that amount in half and you might have a nice upgrade solution for customers to maintain longer term and slowly work themselves up in cameras and packs until they needed Express. Although, paying for something they can't keep is always hard to sell a customer.

  3. Magnus says:

    So to be able to have alarms/push I need to buy a support contract for 400$/€ per year?
    It´s to expensive for homeusers.
    Before you could buy Essentials one time without support to be able to use at home.

  4. Paul Sandford says:

    Matt – thanks for your comments.

    To answer your query – it's not the lack of Care Plus that may prevent you from adding cameras to your XProtect Essential systems, it will be down to the number of cameras in your systems and the options you'll now need to consider when adding cameras. If the system has no more than 8, then you'll be able to continue using Essential but if the system exceeds 8 you'd need to purchase an 8ch annual Essential subscription pack at £370 p/a, which includes Care Plus. Alternatively, you'd upgrade to XProtect Express which can handle more cameras and is licensed in the normal way without a yearly subscription.

    You may be interested in an update we've posted at the bottom of the blog post regarding more issues we've learnt about following the changes implemented by Milestone on 10th October.

    If you do need to upgrade to Express and you don't have Care Plus in place – get in touch with us regarding the offer that's currently running to allow you to upgrade by purchasing three years of Milestone Care Plus at a 50% discount. This offer will be valid until 31st December 2016.

  5. Matt Arnold says:

    Thank you for the helpful article. I read on the Milestone Websites FAQ for xProtect Essentials the following: "Since their current version of XProtect Essential will eventually be discontinued, customers who want to maintain the possibility of adding cameras to their system should migrate to XProtect Express "

    Some of my current XProtect Essential installations that I have purchased in the past have expired in terms of their care package. Does this mean that if I wanted to add a couple of cameras to their system tomorrow – or two years from now – I would not be able to do so without purchasing a care product? Perhaps that has always been the case, but I though we were always able to add new cameras to a system at a later date regardless of the subscription status of the support package. Can you clarify? thanks.