Expression Encoder 4: How to lose a customer in 10 minutes

by Alex on June 17, 2010

I do screen casts about Microsoft stuff. I do them because I think Microsoft makes some really good products and I believe that they spend a lot of time and effort trying to make developers more productive. I also enjoy using their products. To date, I have been using Expression Encoder Screen Capture 3 and Expression Encoder 3 to create, edit and produce my screen casts. I find that the workflow is good and I figure since I already paying the MSDN Professional Subscription price (around $2000), why shell out a couple hundred more for Camtasia Studio.

All of that rational logic went out the window a few days ago.

Recently, Expression Studio 4 was released and, as I always do when there is an update, I went over to MSDN, downloaded and installed it. Good to go. I fired up Expression Encoder Screen Capture 4 and received a message stating that I will only be allowed to record my screen for 10 minutes.


OK I thought. Its new software. Maybe its just a bug with an easy workaround so I googled on Bing for “10 minute restriction Encoder 4” and found this post.

If you choose not to read it, it essentially says that this is not an error. One of the Microsoft moderators makes it clear in his post:

1. If you are using "Expression Encoder 4" (which also comes bundled on some MSDN SKUs of Studios), like Sam posted, there is a limit of 10 minutes and that’s intentional.

And he offered this helpful advice:

Of course, you could also screen cap multiple clips of ten minutes and merge them in Encoder. 🙂

So let me understand. If I want to record for more than 10 minutes with Encoder Screen Capture 4, something I did all the time in version 3, I need to shell out ANOTHER $500 to have that right?!!?!?!

What super smart person in the Microsoft pricing dept came up with this idea?  Does anyone within Microsoft think that the person who came up with this idea may actually be working for Camtasia? If you aren’t thinking that, you should be.  I simply will not pay another $500 for the right to record for more than 10 minutes.  Ill be happy to give $299 to Camtasia for unlimed recording time.

I jumped over to Tweetdeck and posted the following on Twitter

“Expression Encoder 4 limits screen captures to 10 minutes unless I pay $500??? Come on Microsoft…are you begging me to use Camtasia???”

A couple of hours later I found the following message in my inbox:

I saw your tweet on twitter regarding the time limit on expression encoder screen capture. We found out that on some computers that screen capture is limited although the user has Pro or Pro Without Codec Encoder. We are working on it and I will keep you updated.
Sorry for the incontinence.

Here I need to give props to Microsoft. Not only did someone find my angry little tweet, they took the time to visit my blog and send me a message explaining the situation. Bravo.

That’s where the goodness ends though. Following the initial note, I traded 8 more emails with this Microsoft employee. After all the correspondence including screenshots of title bars and MSDN levels, I’m STILL not sure if at some point Ill be able to get a version of Encoder that allows me to create screen casts longer than 10 minutes. Sigh.

I guess Camtasia just made $299.00 and Microsoft is cornering the market on how to lose customers.

Thanks for visiting

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Murat Duman October 19, 2010 at 10:32 am
Dave November 19, 2010 at 1:47 pm

EE4 is full of surprises for your $500. We invested in several licenses for our clients only to find no less than 4 serious bugs (now acknowledged by MSFT). I will not list them as this post is not a rant, but we have a detailed report which was sent to the EE4 engineering team and we can forward it to anyone interested. Our purposes for EE4 was to capture live events using multiple cameras and encode the file as h.264. I cannot recommend EE4 for this purpose and it appears that the software is not getting any love inside MSFT. Buyers should beware prior to shelling out $500 for what might not even meet their needs.

Bojan February 4, 2012 at 4:41 am

I didn’t know about Camtasia, will definitely try it out now. I’m in the same boat as you. I don’t even actually have $300 to dish out right now so this “update” from Microsoft came as bucket of cold water. I admit though, “free” stuff from companies like Microsoft is always to be taken with a grain of salt and extra precaution.

Andy Kaiser April 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm

As an update to this issue:

Expression Encoder 4 with Service Pack 2 removes the 10-minute limitation. Download the SP2 here:

Forget about it April 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm

You should really use vlc player instead of ms crap.
Want to create a live http stream from your screencast? No problem.
You’ll be amazed at what it can do if you play around with it long enough.

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