BigOven for Windows now FREE for desktop use, but requires PRO membership for Internet

recipe-software-computerToday, we’re announcing a very important change in our purchase and delivery model for BigOven for Windows, our leading desktop recipe organizer for Windows:

  1. BigOven for Windows is now FREE for all users for local desktop recipe organization.  By “local desktop” recipe organization, we mean all those features that only use your PC, and do NOT require access to or the free mobile apps.  There’s no more registration code, no more 30-day trial period, and no more product activation. You can install as many BigOven for Windows copies as you’d like, anywhere.
  2. Use of online features from within BigOven for Windows will now require BigOven PRO membership.  These features include displaying online-hosted recipes from within the program, 1-click recipe import, posting recipes and grocery lists, leftover wizard searching of the 170,000+ recipe archive.
  3. Tech support and product updates/upgrades will be limited to BigOven PRO members  Over the seven years since BigOven for Windows first shipped, we’ve delivered hundreds of product enhancements, and we’ve never charged a penny extra for them, beyond the initial purchase.  We’ll continue to deliver product upgrades, but you’ll have to be a BigOven PRO member to receive them from this date forward.
  4. We are giving every past purchaser of BigOven for Windows a free 1 year membership to BigOven PRO.  We thank you sincerely for your purchase of BigOven for Windows, and know this is a significant change.  If you’re a BigOven for Windows user, to help you evaluate BigOven PRO, you can upgrade your membership for an entire year with our compliments at no extra charge.  See below for how to upgrade to BigOven PRO; no purchase or credit card info is required.  (Are you already a BigOven PRO member?  We’ll be happy to extend your membership by 1 year, but it cannot be done by the automated system – just jot us a note at with your serial number from the email account you used to create your BigOven account.  We’ll verify your PRO status and add a year free!)

Simplified Pricing Starting Today

Starting today, ALL BigOven software – all our mobile apps and our dedicated Windows desktop application – are free of charge to download and install as many times as you’d like. 

Then, you optionally upgrade your membership to our PRO level to get more features wherever you’re logged in. 

Note that a single membership gives you benefits across all of the BigOven apps. You don’t need to buy more than one PRO membership per BigOven account.  You don’t need to worry about paying for the clients you download; they’re free.  And you can download and install as many apps as you’d like.

Why are we making this change?

A great deal has changed since we released BigOven for Windows version 1.0 in 2004:

  • Mobile usage, particularly that of smartphones and tablets, has exploded.  We’ve grown from a community a few thousand Windows desktop users to over 5 million downloaders of our free apps for iPhone, iPad Android and Windows Phone 7.   Some people even have multiple devices – web browsers from Windows or Mac, desktop Windows software, iPhones, iPads, etc.
  • Consumers have clearly told us they want to access their recipes anywhere, anytime, from any device. You’ve also told us you want features like grocery lists, nutrition and more on any device.
  • We don’t want you to have to pay us multiple times to use the same BigOven features on every device, and yet we also want to bring those same features to every device.  This strongly suggests a membership based model is best for you (and for us) rather than a device/platform based pricing model.  If you are a premium member, it should apply wherever you are.
  • We’ll continue to upgrade the clients, and continue to add powerful, useful recipe organization features that special PRO members can use.
  • Registration and activation are hassles for you, and for us.  By far, our biggest tech support incident relates to activation and registration the software.  With this change, you no longer have to worry about activation hassles, and we can focus more of our time on delivering the best recipe organization tool for you.  Simply download BigOven for Windows and install it onto as many computers as you’d like!  There’s no more “trial mode”, no more registration, and no more activation.
  • Online features are not one-time costs for us, they very much have recurring operational costs.  That is, bandwidth and servers cost money to deliver every hour, day and month, irrespective of the development cost.  The world is increasingly connected, data should be available anywhere.  We need to align the Windows platform costs with its revenue model, and this also simplifies our product line at the same time, since it’s exactly like our pricing models for iPad, iPhone, Windows Phone 7 and Android.
  • We want to open up BigOven for Windows to more and more people, and giving it away free makes sense for you and for us.  That’s because BigOven grows much more valuable the more people use it.  Among other things, more people means more recipes, more photos, more reviews. 
  • This dramatically simplifies our product line.  In the past, several users have gotten confused about whether BigOven PRO includes the desktop software license or vice versa.  Over the past several months, we’ve gotten more inquiries asking about the difference between BigOven PRO and BigOven for Windows.  This simplifies it greatly:  BigOven for Windows is free, BigOven PRO is a membership level for you to get more out of BigOven, wherever you are.

I purchased BigOven for Windows.  How do I get my free upgrade?

First, get the latest version of BigOven for Windows.  It should be version 1.9.1 or later.  (Choose “About…” from the Help menu to see which version you have.)  If you don’t have version 1.9.1 or later, download it here:

You should be prompted when you try one of the online features of BigOven, such as viewing a recipe from the archive from within BigOven for Windows. 

Simply launch BigOven for Windows, and access one of the online features, or choose “Check for Updates” from the Help menu.  It’ll walk you through the brief process.

If you are already a PRO member and would like a 1 year extension as a thank-you for purchasing BigOven for Windows, jot us a note at from the same email account you used to join BigOven.

must activate your free year of BigOven PRO before December 31st 2011 (that’s six months after we are making this announcement).  Your year begins the date you activate the membership.

What do I get with BigOven PRO?

BigOven PRO gives you the ability to post recipes privately to, and then access them from your iPad, iPhone, Android or Windows Mobile device.  It gives you nutrition facts, a fully synchronizing online grocery list, and the ability to post your grocery list to it from BigOven for Windows. 

It also removes all advertising from the website and mobile apps for an entire year.  BigOven PRO now includes technical support and product updates to BigOven for Windows.  And we’ve got even more features for BigOven PRO to be released later this year.

What happens after my BigOven PRO membership expires?

After your membership expires, you’ll be invited to renew your BigOven PRO membership.  It’s priced at $15.99/year; that’s less than $0.30 per week. 

Does this mean BigOven for Windows is going away?

No way!  Quite the opposite – this aligns all of our product offerings on a common model, and will make it MUCH easier to continue to add great features and power.

I bought BigOven for Windows in the past 6 months (in 2011).  I understand your decision here, but this new method isn’t what I thought I was buying.  Can I return it?

Yes, you sure can!  We are offering a full refund on any BigOven for Windows purchase in 2011.  However, please note that this will void your ability to upgrade to BigOven PRO for a full year.  To get your refund, simply forward your purchase email, which should include both the order number and serial number, to

I don’t own BigOven for Windows.  How does this change affect me?

It doesn’t affect you at all!

Comments?  Questions?

Remember, the key idea is that it’s free to join BigOven, and it’s now free to download any BigOven client on any machine you’d like – Windows, iPad, iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7.  To upgrade to an extra level of power, upgrade your membership BigOven PRO.

Still have questions?  Please let us know.  Thanks!

15 thoughts to “BigOven for Windows now FREE for desktop use, but requires PRO membership for Internet”

  1. Hi James, I can understand how the online features of the desktop software seemed, for all intents and purposes, to be part of the one-time license of the desktop software, but in reality, they were not. BigOven for Windows is unique in that it blends the online components with the desktop component.
    A one-time, very-low-priced license that has ongoing recurring costs on the server side just doesn’t work out in the best interests of consumers using the software or us. It doesn’t allow us to invest in the future, add new features, and more.
    While a change like this is certainly something we’d like to avoid in the future, companies from Microsoft to Apple to Intuit modify the support terms of products and service delivered as platforms evolve, and consumer needs change.
    With the rapid evolution of mobile computing and people’s desires to have their recipes everywhere, we’re no different. We’ve heard loud and clear from the marketplace that people want their recipes, grocery lists, meal plans and more everywhere. We don’t want to have to charge for every single client (Windows, iPod, iPad, iPhone, Windows Phone, Android, etc.), and think it makes far more sense for you and for us to charge only for optional value-added services, and only by user, not by client.
    We hope you enjoy the new and added features of BigOven Pro for the full year, and hope that you continue to use and enjoy the many features of the (now free) desktop software on as many computers as you’d like.

  2. Hi Steve,
    I’ve been a loyal user of Big Oven for several years now. I believe your decision to remove the on-line search capabilities of the Windows software (after 1 year “free”)will only serve to alienate your current users. You should have checked the model of free use with on-page advertizing. They also boast a large number of reviews per recipe. I guess I’ll be uninstalling Big Oven and moving my recipes over to Allrecipes. I think you’ll find you’ve made a “fatal error” in your decision making process.
    Good Luck,

  3. Hi Gordon,
    Sorry to see you go!
    But I’m a little confused. Like AllRecipes, has a 100%-free-to-post, free-to-use, ad-supported model just as you describe that you’re welcome to use. You just need a web browser.
    While the desktop software does add a lot of power and ease, you don’t need the desktop software to get a lot out of (AllRecipes has no desktop software, btw.)
    Recipes are entirely free to post on (just visit, and our 200,000+ recipes are free to search, favorite, try soon, link to others, and much more. We have some features that AR doesn’t have (like RecipeScan and linking recipes), and vice-versa.
    The key point here is that no payment is required to use these features of the site. (At this writing, I believe the site you mention requires you to pay for a premium application on mobile platforms to access your private recipe boxes.)
    And, in comparing the paid memberships, for what it’s worth, our Pro subscription is also less expensive than AllRecipes supporting membership subscription, and removes all advertising. It’s entirely optional.
    In addition, BigOven *also* has free desktop software for Windows. AllRecipes, at this writing, doesn’t have any desktop software for Windows.
    Sorry this change doesn’t work for you, but for the reasons described in the post, we believe strongly this is the best long-term model for our customers and for us.
    We are hearing many, many requests for mobile grocery lists, menu planning and more “BigOven for Windows”-like features on mobile that carry with you wherever you are. If we stuck with a “you pay for every client, not for premium membership” model, users would have to pay for each client that they use, every time they get a new mobile device. We don’t think that’s best for consumers, who are likely to own more than one computing and/or mobile device over the next five years.
    We think a much smarter and better-for-consumers long-term model is a free membership, free client model, plus optional paid membership that gives you more features in all the free clients.
    Sorry to see you go, and happy cooking!

  4. So two questions-
    1- I paid for a program, and now I need to pay a yearly fee to use the program (after my “free year”)?
    2- Can I now print recipes using my Gmail address rather than have to cut and paste anything that I want to print out>
    Thanks for the answers,
    Dan Ford

  5. Hi Dan,
    No, you don’t have to pay to use the program. You can use all the local features without paying us a dime. That includes saving recipes, searching recipes you enter, tagging them, adding them to grocery lists, adding them to meal plans, printing grocery lists, printing recipes, calculating and displaying nutrition, adding photos and more. You *will*, though, have to pay to use the online features of the program after the free year is up. But the rest of the program will work just fine.
    On #2, a few months ago we released the ability to use gmail or other email providers for outgoing email. It’s in the blog here:

  6. What an obsolute sham. I bought a “lifetime license” in 2009, have not used this software for 6 months and find out I missed some sort of deadline. Me and my extended family of 10 (who were all using this program) will now find another software provder who does not change the terms after they have your maoney and now want more. Perfect…thanks!

  7. Greg,
    Sorry you’re upset. But we have NEVER sold a “lifetime license” of any kind. Ever. Nor have we ever marketed the desktop software as including “lifetime” access to the online servers.
    On the contrary, we offered the desktop application at an extremely low price relative to the competition and integrated services offered, offered several years of free online service plus free upgrades — hundreds of them — and never once did we charge for an upgrade.
    We are now offering free use of that software and all the local desktop organization features — importing recipes, searching local recipes, making grocery lists, analyzing nutrition facts, making meal plans, adding photos and notes, tagging recipes, printing recipes — for as many installations as you’d like, free of charge.
    We are now simply saying that the online services that are integrated into the software do cost money every hour of every day, and do need to be paid for if you choose to continue to use them from within the software.
    We can understand if you choose not to continue in this manner, and we do apologize for the change, but it is absolutely necessary, it is much better aligned with the increasingly mobile and tablet world, and it has already allowed us to add a lot more features into the PRO subscription, available anywhere.
    Greg, we are happy to issue a full and complete refund of your original purchase more than 3 years ago in lieu of taking us up on the year of PRO free offer — so you won’t be out a dime if you choose not to continue with the offer — simply jot a note to support @, we’ll validate your original purchase and issue a full and complete refund.
    – Steve

  8. I completely disagree with the other comments. I purchased BigOven Pro years ago after using lots of other trial versions of recipe software. Now, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. BO had the most user-friendly recipe import plus the clip board feature at the time. I remember reading other customers asking about simply scanning their recipes instead of entering them all. Yeah! In my dreams! (I thought)
    But OMG, I used up the freebie scans BO graciously credited me as a former customer. It’s magic! I bought the in-app additional recipes scans for 100 more.
    At first I thought I wanted all my recipes stored on my iPad. I didn’t get why the app didn’t do that. Well, duh! BO stores them on the cloud for me. They are far more innovative with this design. Their set-up is superior to using up memory on the device.
    I’ve bought a dock for my kitchen. Now I listen to my favorite podcasts, radio stations (without that old fashion static like the antenna), or my music library, while accessing the mammoth database of BO recipes on my iPad. Who knew cooking could be so much better in the modern kitchen? BO has completely realized the potential of this technology.
    When the Kindle first came out, I fantasized about a cookbook version to replace the cluttered corner of my kitchen occupied by my file cards, smudged dog-eared books, computer printouts, etc. BigOven has evolved to something better than I could have imagined.
    And this company really works to keep improving. They obviously care about providing the most sophisticated and useful service available.
    I had to laugh at the suggestion to copy All Recipes. Please, please… NO!!!! That would be a dismal step backward. I wouldn’t dream of buying their “pro” service when BigOven is cheaper and constantly improving.
    When my complimentary year is over, I won’t hesitate to renew my subscription annually. Just keep improving and offering me features I didn’t even know were possible.
    The only glitch is the whole copy-right system. I don’t want my scanned recipes to be preemptively deleted for a perceived violation. So my recipes are all unfortunately on private. Well, as long as I can access them, I suppose. But it gets in the way of taking part in the community. I know it isn’t BO’s fault. Just the way things are for now.
    Thanks again for making me a happier cook!

  9. Steve, not using Big Oven at the time of all these changes, I originally had purchased Big Oven Pro years ago. Now having the time and being able to use Big Oven once more, how do I go about finding those recipes (others and mind) which I had added to the pro version??

    Thanks, and don’t I still have that pro membership? Nancy

    1. Hi Nancy, please get in touch with us at support[at] and we’ll see what we can do. It’s been four years since the upgrade announcement, but we’d love to have you back. Also, be sure to check out the cloud uploader tool — it’ll help you get your recipes to the web-hosted version of BigOven, so you can use your grocery list, menu planner and recipes on mobile devices.

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