SDL announced today it will introduce an entry-level, low-cost translation memory tool. The new product, the Starter edition of SDL Trados Studio, will be subscription software only, at a monthly fee of 8 Euros.
The most serious limitation of the Starter edition is the 5,000 translation units limit per TM: enough for working on a new medium-sized project, perhaps, and therefore for giving a new user an idea of how the full product works; not enough for working on major projects where a translation agency sends to the translator a larger TM. The Starter edition will open only certain SDL translation packages, not all, like the freelance edition. Finally, the Starter edition does not include Trados 2007 or Multiterm.
My first reaction: the Starter edition is more of an extended demo than something useful for a professional translator, although it might be good enough for an "occasional translator" (SDL's words).
The lack of Trados 2007 means that users of the Starter edition will not be able to handle legacy Trados formats. I believe the aim is to encourage adoption of SDL Trados Studio, which so far has seen little actual use (all the agencies with which we work, for example, have continued to request ttx or bilingual MS Word files, not SDL Trados Studio files). This is also clearly a move against Lionbridge's Translation Workspace, another recently introduced subscription tool aimed at a similar audience.