The only source you should listen to is the IPS site. If none of the staff have mentioned anything about a change in the licensing and pricing, then trust that it's going to remain the same. Worst I could see happening would be an increase in price for new licenses purchases. Existing license owners are in an agreement already and IPS has done it's very best to honor license agreements even when IPS might be losing out because of it.
I am curious though, what other forums/sites are you referring to? Could you provide links where it's actually being said? Perhaps it could help in finding out why those "many forums and sites" are saying that.
You can alter the way the friendly URL's appear, though I believe it best to leave them alone unless you are certain of the changes you are making. The reason that the topics have 'topic' in the URL is so that the software knows what type of URL it is and thus which app is being called on. After all, without something there, how does it know it should display a topic vs an image from the gallery or an entry from a blog?
I believe that you are 'grandfathered' in to the $10/month price, meaning that for as long as you have that package, it's $10/month. If you get a new package, then you'll pay the new price.
Edit: I just looked and the only thing different is the Basic 10 isn't offered anymore. The other plans appear to be the same. My guess is that IPS needed to stop offering the Basic 10 for business (financial) purposes. While it sucks, it's understandable in keeping overall costs down. That's if my guess is right though.
This *might* fit your needs. You would need to change the format of the detected URL's, but other than that, it should work. It was made as a way for people who used an IPB SEO app (that went defunct) to have their URL's redirect back to the default IPS format. For your use, you might only have to change the URL's in the settings area, but if nothing else, someone you hire could tweak the code to work specifically for VBSEO URL's. http://community.invisionpower.com/files/file/3382-cseo-migration/
If you read here, you'll find what you can and can't do with the software. http://www.invisionpower.com/legal/standards I've seen sites that deal with adult content and it's perfectly legit. For the most part, IPS isn't out to censor content that community administrators wish to put up, but at the same time, they don't want to be associated with certain extreme types of content (mostly illegal). If your content is going to just be adult (18+) and it's all legal/legit, then you should be just fine. You should also consider getting IP.Nexus as part of the package, as I'm sure you'll be selling memberships or other related content. For what it's worth, I have yet to hear or learn about a site that was removed (due to IPS) when it wasn't warranted and I've been using the software for a decade now.
Adding to what Ryan said (and I too am not speaking for IPS)...
My experience with releases has been this. First, IPS will update this live community and then spend an undetermined amount of time letting it get tested. I say undetermined because it depends on the number of bugs that users report, importance of those bugs and other factors affect how long until the live community is updated. Those are the alpha releases and on some occasions, alpha releases might be released for clients to test out too (usually with no way to upgrade an existing community). Once IPS believes the software has reached enough stability, it goes into the beta stages and those generally are available for clients to try out and at some point do include a way to upgrade an existing community (though it's recommended to not install it on a live site). This will usually end up getting a new onslaught of bug reports as more people are testing it from the back end (ACP), on different server environments and finding undiscovered bugs based on different settings for the front end. Depending on the number and severity of the bugs affects how long until the next beta is released.
I should point out that before any release is made available for clients to test out on their own sites, IPS updates this live community first. It not only helps to ensure that there are no major/obvious issues to be sorted out first, but also helps clients to feel more confident about the product since the company is putting itself at risk first. (After all, would you want to trust a company that doesn't trust/use its own products/services?) Depending on how each beta version goes, it can lead to another beta version or the final release.
Important note here... 1. alpha/beta releases are not officially supported, as in, if you install it as a live community and it barfs on you, you're more or less up a certain creek without a paddle. Not that staff wouldn't feel sympathetic, but it is clearly stated that it's not supported. So IF you decide to run one of the pre-release versions, keep in mind to NOT do it as a live community.
With all that said, even if IPS were to upgrade this community tomorrow, the earliest I would imagine there being betas available for clients to test out would be October. With that, even if there were to be only three beta versions (more likely to be four or five) and even if there aren't many bugs found/reported (not likely since it's a completely new version, ie, IPS4 instead of IPS3), the soonest I would imagine the final version would be available would be mid November. But realistically, I'm thinking December (assuming it's this year, if not then January).
So, if you're under pressure to get the community going, to cut down on cost, I recommend installing 3.4.6 but not to install too many customizations. Use the time until 4.0.1 is released to let the clients settle in and get anything else sorted out. The reason I say 4.0.1 is because the first .0 release usually tends to bring about a few not-yet-found bugs as it's installed on thousands upon thousands of live communities. The first point release tends to happen within a couple of weeks or so of the final release. While the betas are being tested out, you can talk with the different developers (for your customizations) for feedback on doing work for you and such. It will be time well spent, believe me.
When you are hosted on IPS's servers, unless you have purchased a full fledged self-hosted license, the software you have access to is only a 'rental', encoded and will only work on IPS servers. When you move to another hosting company, in order to continue using the software, you will need to purchase the full product(s) that you wish to continue running.
Now, if you have purchased a full license and just happen to be getting hosted by IPS, then you need only make sure your license is active and you can download the full software and then upload it on the new host you wish to use. If you don't already own a full license, then you wouldn't be paying again for the software, as you were paying for the hosting service which includes use of the software.
IPS doesn't do RC's anymore. Assuming that Alpha comes out in June (thus falling within Q2)... Jun - Alpha on this community. Aug - Beta on this community. Possibly encoded/time-restricted Alphas for clients to download. Also possible that betas will become available. Sep - Betas Oct - Possible to see Final.
Keep in mind that before anything is made available to clients to download and use, IPS will always update this community first and usually wait at least a week before clients get access to it. IPS doesn't like to unleash monsters to its clients and would rather take the hit themselves if anything bad is going to happen. Not only that but this community isn't only for support and such, it's also a testing community. New version gets installed, obviously any new problems get reported and fixed before the new version is released to the clients.
Should also point out that anything other 'Final' versions are not supported. ie, if you download and upgrade a community to a beta version and encounter problems, then tough luck. (Putting it bluntly that is.) Unless IPS says otherwise, Alphas and Betas are NOT supported.
I've seen Alpha's released in the past but have been encoded and even time restricted. There are various reasons for it and they all make sense. I believe early Betas have sometimes also been done the same way.
I recommend you follow the steps to converting over NOW instead of waiting. First, you'll need (or at the very least, want) to be on the latest version of the product you're using before converting. Then, do a test conversion to get any problems worked out. After you get your community converted over, the only thing you'll have to worry about is upgrading to IPS4 when it comes out. If you wait until Final to come out before converting, you could encounter a world of headaches that could have been avoided. It's easier to tackle any issues with converting and later upgrading than it is to tackle them when doing both at the same time. It's like performing an upgrade at the same time you are switching hosts. Bad idea, because any problems that arise sometimes become harder to troubleshoot and resolve.
So I recommend converting now and even if a Beta becomes available in a few weeks, you wouldn't want to upgrade to that anyways.
The license was for IP.Board, not IP.Core + IP.Board. If IPS wanted to, they could call the forums "IP.Forums" or "IP.Discussions" starting with v4 and legacy license holders wouldn't have any claim to it at all. Might be off of IP.Board, but since it's a rewrite of the code and such, it could be given a different name and would be perfectly legit. Don't get me wrong, I can see where legacy license holders can argue that they should still continue to get IP.Board for free (with free support for Lifetime license holders). However, IPS is a company that needs money to remain in business. Take your pick - structure changes and so the license isn't supported anymore and you have to pay (renewal costs, not a full new purchase) OR company has to close its doors because it can't afford to continue going. Either way, the license (as it is) is no longer good.
I have a Lifetime license that I don't use anymore. I don't plan to change it or anything, as I keep it as it is as a keepsake, to remember the times of the past and as a reminder of how far the company has progressed since those days. In fact, in the CA, I've affectionately named it "My Precious." :D I still remember getting it and I've gotten more than my fair share of use from it.
If you don't want to lose an existing legacy license, then purchase a new license and retire the legacy one.
Like Mark H. said, you would need one license per URL. If you were to have each of the subdomains redirect to a specific forum/URL on your main community (say 'software' redirected to the downloads app on www) then you would only need one license, since it would be only one community. Best way to think of it is like this - license is tied to URL and database (database meaning the actual data being used). If you have a hundred domains redirecting to one community (URL/database) then that's fine. But the moment you have it using different data based on the URL, then you need a separate license for it.
There's no way to have more than one community that uses the same license.
I would say it's a safe bet that you will need to have an active license in order to test any of the IPS 4.0 beta software. Keep in mind it won't be IP.Board 4.0, as IP.Board will be just one application in the entire suite of products.
This is why IPS doesn't like to give even estimations of releases, because it causes issues. Technically, we're still in Q2 and if a beta were to be released by June 30th, it would have been released during Q2 (even though it wouldn't be the final product, it'd still be 4.0). That said, there are two ways to handle deadlines. One is to put out the product by the deadline no matter what (vB4 anyone?) and the other is to watch it fly by at warp speed but continue to focus on making sure the product is as solid as can be expected before releasing it to the world.
The IPS release date is generally "When It's Ready™" instead of "Here's Some Crap" (you can guess which product I'm thinking of for the second one).
To be honest, I'm surprised that it's not out yet, considering the talent behind IPS. So my best guess is that there were some snafu's encountered that caused more than the usual delays. No matter, I prefer the way they've been doing it, where quality is priority. If that means waiting another month or so before the betas start rolling out, so be it.
I've been using IPS software for about a decade now and I'll tell it to you like it is. When it comes to support, the IPS staff are the best when it comes to attitude. It can be spoiling to be honest, especially when you try to get support for some other product or service, only to get treated like you don't matter. If someone does happen to have an unfavorable encounter with a support member, they only need contact management (if they feel it necessary).
Just to pipe this in, aside from the fact that an arrogant/rude employee wouldn't last long, I haven't known of anyone being let go from IPS because of it.
So if you are considering purchasing a license for any of the software and support interaction is a concern for you, please know that the staff at IPS are top notch. In fact, there are times when IPS has helped out others who they didn't have to. For example, one time someone was fraudulently selling IPS licenses and IPS actually worked with the victims in the matter. Read more here.
How many companies do you know of that would be kind enough to do that? :)