Topic: New Zemax License and Support Conditions

What's going on here, what has happened?

At the beginning of June, Zemax introduced a new price and license model for the OpticStudio software. Contrary to all other innovations regarding the software, which are announced extensively, this change was made discreetly. Users became aware of this change only by chance.

What's changed?

New licenses for OpticStudio can only be rented from now on (rental license). The previous model of purchasing a perpetual license and subsequently receiving updates by paying an annual support fee no longer exists. Yet, an exception is made for holders of perpetual licenses with current support. These customers may renew their support and purchase additional perpetual licenses.

What does this mean for holders of a purchased (perpetual) license?

The decisive point is the following: Zemax has announced that owners of a purchased (perpetual) license will only receive bug fixes and so-called “feature updates” or “feature enhancements” upon payment of the annual support fee. All technical innovations for OpticStudio (“new capabilities” or so called “game changing features”), such as the free-form optimization and high-yield optimization announced in recent months, are reserved exclusively for the rental versions. This degrades the purchased licenses of existing users to second-class licenses.

What does the rental model imply?

Zemax says about the subscription that it is more flexible (six months, one year, two years, three years, the latter two at the same annual price as the one-year license), and that it can be terminated and resumed at any time without penalty. On the other hand, the rent of the software considerably exceeds the previous support fee. If the payment of the rent is not continued, OpticStudio cannot be used.

Will I lose my data/files when my subscription expires?

Zemax claims that the expiration of the software license does not impact the user’s data.
This is obviously true since users host their own data. However, it is also true that without access to the software simulation models, macros, scripts, extensions, DLLs etc. created by the user cannot be visualized, evaluated or used. The solution that is proposed in such a case is resuming (and paying) the subscription for at least six months. The single competitor of Zemax that uses a rental model provides a much more convenient solution.

How can owners of a purchased license keep their licenses current with the latest features?

Zemax offers that holders of a purchased license should switch to the rental model. Zemax says that for the abandonment of a permanent license, certain discounts on the rental fee would be granted. Further details are not given. However, by this step the “fallback option” is lost.

What is the “fallback option”?

Anyone who has purchased a license for OpticStudio in the past is free to decide if and for how long they want to receive support, bug fixes and feature updates by paying the annual support fee. If the owner of the license decides against it, e.g. because of considerably increased costs for support, he or she can still use the software for an unlimited period of time, but without receiving further support, bug fixes or feature updates. Thus OpticStudio offered in the past a high investment security, because each license holder could rely on being able to use the software indefinitely. This means that simulation models, macros, extensions that the user has created retain their usefulness and value. This option has been used in the past by many smaller companies who have found support fees too expensive over time. This fallback option is apparently to be eliminated.


·         Zemax Website, OpticStudio pricing information at

·         Zemax FAQ MyZemax.pdf, obtained from Zemax Europe on July 12th, 2019. This is up to now the most detailed resource. Ask your Zemax account manager for your copy.

·         Zemax FAQ Subscriptions.pdf which is provided on the Zemax Website. This is an abridged version of the aforementioned document. Direct link to the document:

What happens now?

It appears as if the owners of a purchased license are now being forced to switch to the rental software by restricting access to further technical innovation. This change has disappointed many users of OpticStudio, because in the past they financed the further development of the software with their support fees and are now excluded from the fruits of these efforts. It is also a set-back for academic institutions that are training young engineers in the use of OpticStudio. These institutions will have difficulties covering the rising cost of the licenses in the future.

For this reason, a group of users decided to send the following open letter to the management of Zemax.

At the same time we will publish this letter in the Zemax user forum on LinkedIn – currently the only working forum for users of Zemax software. This text and the open letter are also available on the website Anyone who shares our concerns about the recent change in the license policy is welcome to add his or her voice. Please send a mail with your name and affiliation to



Open letter

Zemax management


Dear Zemax management,

With great surprise and disappointment we have noted the silent change in the licensing and pricing policy for OpticStudio.
We are surprised, because this change was introduced quietly and secretly. Zemax normally communicates all changes and innovations related to OpticStudio very openly. This was not the case here.
We are disappointed, because of the downgrading of the purchased (perpetual) licenses introduced as part of this change. We regard this as unfair with respect to your loyal customers. It devalues the product for all existing customers who have paid the regular support fees in confidence of the continuous further development of the product. Despite the credits offered, switching to the rental version means significantly higher running cost. It also means the loss of the “fallback option” that many buyers have trusted upon in the past. This “fallback option” is a very important aspect of investment security.

These changes displease those customers who confided in OpticStudio and its licensing model in the past.

As long-time users who care about OpticStudio as a working tool and as paying customers, we urgently ask the management of Zemax to thoroughly reconsider this change in the licensing and support policy. In particular the effective declassification of the perpetual licenses by cutting them off from any innovation should be revisited.

Yours sincerely

·         Dr. Volker Türck, Dr. Türck Ingenieurbüro, Berlin, Germany

·         Dr. Christian Sinn, Köln.Optik Ingenieurbüro, Köln, Germany

·         Prof. Dr. Herbert Gross, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany

·         Jakob Silbermann, Bernhard Halle Nachfl. GmbH, Berlin, Germany

·         Helder Alves, Vistec Electron Beam GmbH, Jena, Germany

·         Andreas Mitreiter, Hach Lange GmbH, Berlin, Germany

·         Volker Raab, Optikexpertisen, Potsdam, Germany

·         Peter Haag, Steiner Optik, Bayreuth, Germany

·         Manfred Throl, Throl Optics, Wetzlar, Germany

·         Dr. Kai Engelhardt, OPTI-KEN, Buckenhof, Germany

·         René Bürgi, Orpund, Switzerland

·         Dr. Florian Hudelist, DIOPTIC GmbH, Weinheim, Germany

·         Reiner Jetter, Jetter Optikentwicklung, Landshut, Germany

·         Jan Kaster, with ARRI – Arnold & Richter Cine Technik, München, Germany

·         Dr. Udo Umhofer, TOPAG Lasertechnik GmbH, Darmstadt, Germany

·         Roy Rudnick, Corephotonics, Israel

·         Micha Dror, Nes Ziona, Israel

·         Donna Waters, Proof of Concept Engineering LLC, Boulder, Colorado, USA

·         Dr. Patrick Leisching, TOPTICA Photonics AG, Munich, Germany

·         Frank Strauch, ASAP Engineering, Weissach, Germany

·         Thomas Craven-Bartle, Craven-Bartle Optical Engineering AB, Södra Sandby, Sweden

·         Håkan Bergström, Inspectra Analys AB, Ideon Research Park, Lund, Sweden

·         Michael Heil, Viaoptic GmbH, Wetzlar, Germany

·         Tal Verker, Align Technology, Israel

·         Erez Ben-Porat, Optical Designer, IAI, Israel

·         Sten Lindau, PhD, FLIR Systems AB, Täby, Sweden

·         Thomas Pfeuti, ondae Ingenieurbüro UG, Halstenbek, Germany

·         Dr. Henning Rehn, FISBA AG, St. Gallen, Switzerland

·         Dr. Jan Thirase, Technologie Manufaktur, Göttingen, Germany

·         Ephraim Goldenberg, Corephotonics, Israel

·         Andrey Pravdivtsev, Optical Designer, Moscow, Russia

·         Anatoli Trafimuk, PhD, OpticsForHire, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

·         Johan Speybrouck, Optical Engineer, Leuven, Belgium

·         Oliver Rehe, Henke-Sass Wolf GmbH, Tuttlingen, Germany

·         Steffen Walter, Scansonic MI GmbH, Berlin, Germany

·         Dr. Tim Baldsiefen, JENOPTIK Shanghai, Shanghai, China

·         Jürgen Neumann, IndustrieOptikFischer e.K., Wetzlar, Germany

·         Holger Müller, XION medical, Berlin, Germany

·         Dr. Ralf Dorn, OPTOCRAFT GmbH, Erlangen, Germany

·         Prof. Dr. Mathias Beyerlein, TH Lübeck, Germany

·         Rick Yarussi, Independent Consultant, San Francisco, USA

·         Mike Harnisch, Finisar Germany GmbH, Berlin, Germany

·         John Blackwell, Ely Optics Ltd., Cambridge, UK

·         Dr. Mamoun Naim, RAYLASE GmbH, Wessling, Germany

·         Apostolos Deslis, JENOPTIK Optical Systems LLC, Jupiter, Florida, USA

·         Shane Thornton, Consultantnet Ltd., Cambridge, UK

·         Ed DeHoog, PhD, OEA LLC, Long Beach, California, USA

·         Georg Nadorff, Moondog Optics Inc., Fairport, New York, USA

·         Ulrich Wetzel, Erlangen, Germany

·         Asmus Richter, Ingenieurbüro Asmus Richter, Wiesbaden, Germany

·         George Duckett, KARL STORZ Imaging, Goleta, California, USA

·         Dr. Felix Neugart, Ingenieurbüro f. Optikentwicklung, Mannheim, Germany

·         David Aziz, Optical Engineering Consultant, USA / Israel

·         Adam Phenis, AMP Optics, Sunnyville, California, USA

·         Frederic Ludley, Spalt, Germany

·         Dr. Radu George Cucu, OD-OS GmbH, Teltow, Germany

·         Dr. Harald Baumann, KARL STORZ SE & Co. KG, Tuttlingen, Germany

·         Peter Domenicali, Ximetrics LLC, Arizona, USA

·         Dr. Joachim Hertzberg, Ziemer Ophtalmic Systems AG, Port, Switzerland

·         Stefano Bastianello,  PhD, Mermec Spa, Italy

·         John Bowen, Photon Gear, Ontario, NY, USA

·         Dr. Peter Z. Takacs, Physicist Emeritus, Brookhaven National Lab, Minneapolis, MN, USA