RealVNC is dropping its “Home” plan and barely noting its free “Lite” option


Image showing multiple devices connected to the same screen.

RealVNC

RealVNC will soon end its “Home” plan that’s free to use for up to three users and five devices. If you still wanted a non-commercial just-in-case plan, there is one, but you’re going to have to hunt a bit.

RealVNC users with Home subscriptions will likely receive an email from the company with the subject line: “Important changes to your Home subscription.” The email notes that the firm is “Retiring our Home plan” as of June 17, 2024.

After “launching a wider range of tiered plans designed to better cater to more users” and to “maintain a cohesive set of plan options,” the email states, Home must be retired. RealVNC, asking itself FAQ-style, “What do I need to do?” notes that the easiest way to avoid disruption is to upgrade to a paid plan. Switch now and you can save 20 percent, after hitting the big blue button labeled “SAVE MY ACCOUNT,” RealVNC suggests.

Clicking on RealVNC's email prompt or an "Explore plans" link in their FAQ leads you to this page, which uses bold text and color on all but one notable element. (Arrow and circle are author's).

Clicking on RealVNC’s email prompt or an “Explore plans” link in their FAQ leads you to this page, which uses bold text and color on all but one notable element. (Arrow and circle are author’s).

RealVNC

When you arrive at RealVNC’s account management page, either from the email or the Home retirement FAQ page (which mentions a Lite plan as the last question but does not link to it), you’ll get a pop-up prompt if you have a Home account. It notes how many users and devices you’re using in your current plan and when it expires, and it asks you to “Consider alternative plans.” The plans with big boxes and temporarily discounted prices are “Essentials” and “Plus.” There is actually a third plan, though you’d have to notice that it lacks for color, has no link highlighting, and is in a lower-left corner: “Switch to our Lite plan.”

“Lite” plans reduce you from three users on Home to one, and five devices to three, with no perks like file transfer or remote printing. It is decidedly not for commercial use, a follow-up prompt notes three separate times.

Did you get that part about Lite being absolutely not for commercial use? There is another prompt to ensure this, with a required checkbox. It also notes that you’ll be creating a new Lite team. None of my own Home computers came over to a new Lite account, so I’ll need to manually re-add them.

RealVNC is under no obligation to offer a free plan at all, to anybody. It is within its rights to promote its new, wider range of plans to potential customers. I’ve used the Home plan for years as the easiest way into a Raspberry Pi or two, along with an occasional-use desktop box.

But the way Lite is presented to existing Home subscribers either verges on or entirely enters dark patterns territory. Visually de-emphasizing an option to the point of obfuscation, suggesting you need to “Save” your account, and leaving “Lite” off a pricing chart entirely (minus a tiny “Lite” link in the footer links) suggests a desire to confuse or just wear down customers into your cheapest plans.

Ars has reached out to RealVNC for comment and will update this post with response.



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