Open Letter to our users
We sincerely apologize for all the confusion surrounding this release. It was never our intention to deceive or trick anyone of you. In the release notes we should have focused on re-emphasizing that GPG Mail 3 has now exited the beta phase. That the stable version would require a support plan for continued use, as we had hinted at about 9 month and that the version of GPG Mail 3 which was going to be installed would be a 30 day trial. Instead of focusing what might be of most interest to our existing users, we focused on what was most important for us – being able to provide a release with support for macOS Mojave from day one.
We have since taken the necessary steps to update our site with all the missing information and made sure that the release notes are abundandly clear now.
Our most important goal with the release of GPG Suite 2018.4 was to have GPG Mail ready before macOS Mojave was released to guarantee uninterrupted access to encrypted emails for our users who rely on GPG Mail on a daily basis. That has terribly backfired. Most of your questions should be answered in the FAQ now, and the page for the GPG Mail Support Plan. GPG Suite is still being released under an Open Source license, the full release code can be found on our website and on GitHub.
If you are interested in what has and has not happened, we would love if you kept reading.
What has really happened?
At 5am on Saturday morning, 09/22, Vienna time, we were finally ready to launch the release of GPG Suite 2018.4, which for the first time, would contain a stable release of GPG Mail for macOS Mojave prior to Apple's release. In almost 10 years working on GPG Suite we had never managed to accomplish that before.
So at that point we were very very excited about sharing the good news.
It was of utmost importance to get the release out at least a few days before macOS Mojave's release, so our users would be notified and could install it in time. We released a new website as well, with only the most important information, since we were exhausted and were already prepared to add the missing pages after the weekend.
One year ago we announced our plans to start charging a fee for GPG Mail
Our annocunement stated that with the release of GPG Mail 3, our mail plugin would no longer be free as in "free beer". Our GPG Suite version released at the same time included the first beta of GPG Mail 3 compatible with macOS High Sierra. We also mentioned that GPG Suite as well as GPG Mail would continue to be released under an Open Source license. In order to make sure that everyone of our existing users was informed, we included the information about the upcoming change in regards to GPG Mail 3 in the release notes of a few more releases of GPG Suite and the announcements on our website.
So by the time we were about to release GPG Suite 2018.4 on Saturday morning, we thought that our users would already be aware of the upcoming change. We didn't think that the fact, that we will charge a fee for GPG Mail would be the most important information, since we had mentioned that repeatedly before. Since the trial could be used for another 30 days, we also didn't think our users would mind the "missing information" on our website, as they had enough time to decide and there was enough time for us to add all the necessary details after the weekend.
Reading your encrypted emails remains free
To make sure that no one would be caught off guard, we decided to again mention in the release notes of 2018.4 that with the installation of this release, a trial version of GPG Mail 3 would be installed which could be used for 30 days and that continued use after that period, would require the purchase of the GPG Mail Support Plan. To make sure that no one would think they could no longer access their encrypted emails after the trial period was over, we also included the details that decryption would still work, but signing/encrypting and verifying emails would require the GPG Mail Support plan.
So we pushed the metaphorical release button and exhausted but very happy went to bed. Only to wake up to a massive shit storm the next day.
10 years of developing GPG Suite and releasing it for free
After almost 10 years of providing GPG Suite with great support, open source and for free, people called GPG Suite ransomware now. We were accused of pushing this trial on our users without any prior notice. I personally couldn't believe the vitriol and hateful messages directed our way.
What was probably most disappointing was the fact that even long time users didn't afford us the benefit of the doubt, but immediately started joining in. Many people wondered how dare we not respond to their questions on a Saturday and Sunday.
So instead of enjoying our weekend after a – in our opinion – successful release, we have now spent the entire Sunday adding the missing information, that was planned to be added next week – after we had allowed ourselves some breathing room – in the first place. Instead of spending our weekend with our loved ones, we now have to respond to almost 200 messages on twitter and on our support platform.
From a well liked open source project to Evil Corp in one night
I guess after all those years working on GPG Suite we just didn't expect this kind of hatred geared towards us and having our GPG Suite transformed from an open source project many people really liked into a proprietary "bullshit" from Evil Corp in many people's minds.
We would really like to thank those few voices who came to our defense. We are truly grateful. And we are really grateful to the many of you who have already bought our GPG Mail Support Plan. We will do our best to make it worth your while, as we have always tried to in the past.
As already stated in the summary above, we have since realized that we didn't do a good enough job communicating the changes affecting GPG Mail. For us personally, being ready in time for macOS Mojave was the most important fact, but we should have known that the announcement of starting to charge a fee for GPG Mail would be the major concern for our users.
We have since also come to realize that for many of our users knowing the specifics on what the GPG Mail Support Plan includes would have been the priority number one and that all the details that are available on our website now, should have been published on release day.
So we want to issue an honest apology for getting things wrong.
If you took the time to read this letter, thank you.
This was a terrible day for me and my other two team members, but I truly hope we can move on now.
Lukas, Kristof & Roman