Yesterday Six Apart announced the beta of MT6. It sports several cool new features like a new web/JSON-based API and a graphing library + Google Analytics integration. However, the biggest bombshell was in the license change announcement (or rather, the clarification to the announcement), specifically these two lines:
- Dropping MTOS offering - discussed in-depth on expanded post
- MT Pro and MT Advanced - Will be under MT commercial license
In plain English this means that after ten years there won't be a free version of Movable Type you can download anymore (not as in beer and not as in speech).
In the clarifying post, Six Apart cites financial reasons for this decision, which is certainly understandable: they have to get revenue from somewhere after all.
They also express the desire to help the developer community by making it easier to sell extensions to the product. This is also the reason for releasing parts of the new MT6 under the MIT license.
Personally I'm afraid that the move to a paid-only version will further reduce the market for extensions/plugins/themes, as many of the remaining 'free' users will undoubtedly migrate to other platforms. It remains to be seen if the paying users will make up the difference. Experience with other platforms certainly shows 'free' users are willing to pay for plugins, themes and extensions.
But then again, there aren't that many free users of MT left anyway, so I can see why Six Apart would want to focus on larger, paying clients that need the features of MT that make it a great CMS for larger installations (static publishing, multi-user/multi-blog, multiple publishing methods, templating system with hierarchical includes, advanced role management...) but which aren't really critical to smaller blogs. These larger users will and certainly can pay for custom work, so as an MT developer I can certainly see myself making a living there.
Still, the passing of the 'free' days of MT definitely marks the end of an era, if only for sentimental reasons.
I heard there will be more announcements and clarifications coming in the next few days, and that there might still be options for people wanting to use MT for free in the future, so keep watching movabletype.org!