Monday, March 22, 2021

Xara / Magix Designer Pro - Love it or hate it?

The Xara Designer Pro software package is quite nice, and capable of incredible things. It never got the traction it deserved, and has been picked up and then abandoned, more or less, again and again.

Some time ago Magix picked it up, and that rarely bodes well...


Xara has gone online, using a subscription model. When you visit their homepage you can only buy the monthly package, free / 12.95 / 16.95 euro per month.

The old 'software' package Designer Pro can no longer be bought directly from Xara. However, when you take their most expensive package, you'll get the latest version called Designer Pro+.

Designer Pro+ is pretty much the same thing as Designer Pro, with some differences (or so I have read, I don't use Designer Pro+).

If you stop the subscription Designer Pro+ will stop working as well. (Makes sense.)


The online version is quite impressive, though not (yet) as good as the stand-alone version of the software. I fooled around a bit with the trial cloud version, but several limitations made me pause...

- I haven't been able to up or download .XAR files (maybe you can with a commercial license)

- You're limited to five downloads (only with the free version)

- There's no support for creating websites

- Some functions of the desktop package don't show up in the online version (for example grid)

Another disadvantage is the need for a Google Drive account. You might want to consider creating a dedicated account for using this software online, as you might not want the 'Xara Cloud' to have unlimited access to your drive.

I'm not sure, based on my limited experience, if the technology is good enough, and affordable enough (!) to replace classic desktop stuff. To be honest, I find it rather pricey... at least for private usage.

So... what's the target audience then? It doesn't seem to cater for the real pros (all this template stuff looks a little cheap and some functionality is missing), and it's too expensive for the home user. So there's this great software package, an okay online experience, but what use is a DTP package like Xara Designer Pro in an online multi user environment? It almost seems like they (Xara) have some incredible technology, and are simply looking to do something with it.

That's sad.


Magix has been reselling the Designer Pro package. You can buy a new version at full price, then get a discount at when you extend your subscription. Right now that's 129 euro, versus 247 euro for the full package.

What I don't like about Magix is their 'upgrade / subscription' model.

  • If you buy the full package you have one year access to the basic version plus all updates for that year, for an unlimited time, UNLESS you want to re-install.
  • If you re-install AFTER your subscription has expired, you have unlimited use of your 'basic' version. Any updates you received since then you lose. That's almost a protection racket scheme, and I wonder if it is entirely legal.

Unfortunately, they nowhere specify what the 'basic' version is.

Here's the EULA: 

In there, it says the following:

2.2. With regard to Upgrades, the following applies: Only owners of the basic product are authorized to receive each upgrade. Use of an upgrade depends on you being the owner and user of the basic product. An isolated circulation of an upgrade to third parties is not permitted.

2.3 With regard to updates and features delivered within the scope of the MAGIX update guarantee, the following applies: The license for updates and features delivered within the 12 months after initial registration of the MAGIX product is limited to the installation(s) in place at the point when the 12-month period expires. If the update guarantee is extended beyond the 12-month period, this limitation does not apply.

Again, unfortunately, they nowhere specify what the 'basic' version is. What it appears to boil down to is: you get the latest version you DOWNLOADED, but nothing that's updated (online) since then.

Very annoying, if not outright unfair. I admit it makes managing update packages and customers a bit easier, yes... However, Magix goes one step further, and adds endless nagging...

Pissing off customers

Some marketing genius at Magix thought it would be a great idea to keep nagging their customers endlessly when the update subscription has expired. No matter what you do, you will always be greeted with an annoying ' Your software has expired ' kind of message. That's... rude.

Even worse, some regular features of the software (inserting a table, for example) also bring up this message. These are not 'additional' updated features, just regular functions that offer access to additional downloads during a valid subscription. Once the subscription would be terminated the basic functionality should still be there. Instead you'll get that same annoying pop-up, and even some of the basic functionality (like inserting a table) is suddenly gone.


Well done, Magix! Great job!

Work around

Fortunatley, the work around is easy. Just block the software access to the Internet. Yeah, you'll lose some other functionality, but that's the price we have to pay, thanks to Magix...

So, create a new firewall rule, select the Designer Pro executable, and block it from accessing the internet. That's it. Done. Bye bye nag. And it accidentally speeds up the launch of the problem, and returns some functionality blogged by the nag.

I like the Xara Designer Pro package, but Magix? I hate you. Lessee' how much time it will take you to piss off even more customers by enforcing the nagging pop-up even when there's no longer an internet connection...

And Xara? It would have been nice if you would have given old customers (pre-Magix days) a way to buy the package directly, without having to suffer Magix' marketing genius...

It's this kind of misbehavior that pushes people into illegal versions of software. I'm more than willing to pay for a good piece of software... ONCE.

I don't want subscriptions. I'm willing to pay for updates.

I'm not willing to pay for nags!!!!

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