Pretty much the standard scheme for Mac developers is like this:
- Download software (of which there is usually only one version, no “pro” vs. “home” nonsense)
- Use software, often with a caveat like a nagware screen, trial period, or feature limitations
- Visit the developer’s website (usually through a menu item like “Register…”) and give the developer your credit card number
- Receive a serial code – usually on the confirmation screen immediately after submitting your credit card number – that unlocks every copy of the software on any computer, anywhere, forever.
If I reformat my hard drive, I can generally find my SNs by searching my email, or, failing that, emailing the developer. There’s no fear that at some point my software will mysteriously stop being “valid.”
I think this “trust the customer” ethos derives from the mothership itself: this is the way Apple collects payments and delivers licenses. If Mac developers pulled the kind of crap I’ve had to endure on my Windows machines, the users would scream bloody murder; they just aren’t used to it. Yes, a few developers release “pro” or “enhanced” versions, but generally the transaction is bone simple: “to run our software without limitations you need to buy a magic number.”
Panic software has this down cold. I don’t even need to keep the emails with the serials … if I forget my serial number I can just send them my email address and they’ll email me back with ALL the serial numbers I’ve EVER purchased … even for out of date, expired software (which, who knows, I might still have running on an old machine)
The only software I’ve ever had to “validate” or “activate” on my Mac is from Adobe.