Users Bridle At eBay Fee Move

SAN JOSE, Calif. — People across the country who sell things on eBay are furious with the auction site because of its recent move to charge subscription fees for a popular piece of software that makes it easier to list items.

In irate notes on message boards and e-mails to the company, sellers accuse eBay of getting greedy and belying its warm and fuzzy community-focused image. Some are threatening a class-action suit because older versions of the software, which cost as much as $200, stopped working.

Everyone else who uses the Internet should take note. An increasing number of companies, including giant Microsoft Corp., are expected to embrace subscription models and move away from selling software for a one-time fee. The companies say they simply can’t afford to keep giving away free upgrades.

“The trend is undeniable — it’s just a question of how long it’s going to take,” said Rob Enderle, a research fellow with Giga Information Group. “The existing model isn’t working. You can certainly try to live in the past, but whether you’re a Microsoft or an eBay, you’re probably going to get bypassed.”

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