When you purchase a license of ARES Commander, it includes a 12 months Maintenance subscription. Graebert typically publishes one major release every year and two or three intermediate service packs. If you have a valid subscription at this time, you will be entitled for a free upgrade.
The major release is usually released publicly at the end of November or beginning of December. Subscribers receive their free upgrade for the major release in the second half of January by form of a new product key sent by email. This product key is used to activate the new version but a product key is only required for major releases. For service packs it is enough to run the setup without entering the Product Key. A message is also popping up inside ARES Commander to inform when an upgrade is available (see https://help.graebert.com/en/articles/3045886-automatic-update-notification-for-ares-commander).
When you are using a Perpetual license and your subscription is valid/has not expired you will receive a new Product Key for a perpetual license for the new version. When you are using an Annual Plan and your 12 months license is valid/have not expired you will receive a new Product Key valid for the remaining days.
We know our users are always keen on using the new release as soon as it becomes available but there are two good reasons why the new Product Keys are sent in the second half of January:
- STABILITY: Although we conduct heavy tests before any release, unfortunately we are unable to reproduce the exact conditions of work of millions of users and the wide variety of files in use by our customers. As a result, it is sometimes required to provide a hot fix shortly after release, when we collect more feedback from our users. When we send the upgrades in January we can make sure that our subscribers get a better version of our product. The alternative would be to ship a version immediately and ask the users to wait 3 months for the Service pack 1 which we don't like.
2) TIMING: The generation of the new Product Keys for the subscribers is also a process that requires time and full attention. For Annual Plans we need, each user may have a different expiry date which means a different duration. This process is done semi-automatically, but our team is behind it to check carefully the data and avoid mistakes. We can't start this work before the release or we may forget in our upgrade the most recent users or subscription renewals. It is also much better to perform such tasks in January after the holiday season.
In conclusion you have nothing to do and will receive your free upgrade in the second half of January in an email. Meanwhile, feel free to download the new version and activate a free 30 days trial. You can run both versions in parallel on your computer.