For now, I’ve recommended that he step up to Sibelius 7.5, but not yet Sibelius 8. You can read my recent review of Sibelius 8 here, but the long and short of it is that there is no downside to getting Sibelius 7.5 now (especially if you are sure to apply the 7.5.1 maintenance update). Avid has said that if you purchased and registered Sibelius 7.5 on or after April 11, 2015, you qualify for a free upgrade to 8.
So why not just buy Sibelius 8, then? Well, right now, while 8 is largely stable, there are a few bugs (regressions from 7.5). Those will surely get ironed out in time, but the best reason to hold off on buying 8 for now is that it buys you some time to decide when or if you want to get on board with Avid’s new time-bound licensing program, with its subscription and perpetual options. If you get Sibelius 7.5 now, you’ll have nearly a full year — until June 30, 2016 — to see how Sibelius development progresses before potentially upgrading to Sibelius 8 and thus starting the clock on any renewal plan. In other words, if you purchase an upgrade to Sibelius 7.5 now, you could wait to upgrade to Sibelius 8 in June of next year, start your yearly perpetual renewal plan at that time (for free because you qualify for a free upgrade from 7.5) and not have to fork over another penny until June of 2017.
My colleague Bill Holab recently wrote a widely-circulated piece on New Music Box in which he lays out the case in cogent detail. Bill uses 7 for most of his work, but I’ve moved everything to 7.5.1 because I find it more stable and useful. Other than that, his conclusions align with mine, and I agree with his statement that Sibelius 6 is “acceptable to work in, but there are some limitations and it’s now several versions back. I would recommend moving on from that version before long.” (For a helpful guide on transitioning from Sibelius 6 to Sibelius 7.5, see this post from last year.)
Near the end of his piece Bill recommends that “you upgrade to 7 or 7.5 before you get trapped in the version 8 licensing scheme. But act quickly, you’ll need to buy 7/7.5 from a retailer who has existing stock since Sibelius is no longer selling those versions.”
So, where, then, to buy Sibelius 7.5, should you so choose? A quick survey yielded the following, but note that availability and price is subject to change. This list is not comprehensive and only refers to US and UK retailers.
Sibelius 7.5 Upgrade from Sibelius 7: $83.76
Sibelius 7.5 Legacy Upgrade (from versions 1-6): $103.07
Sibelius 7.5 Crossgrade (from other notation software): $172.95
Sibelius 7.5 Academic: $246.99
Sibelius 7.5 Trade-Up (from Sibelius First or Sibelius Student): $306.57
Sibelius 7.5: $495.00
Sibelius 7.5 Upgrade from Sibelius 7: £69.95
Sibelius 7.5 Legacy Upgrade (from versions 1-6): £77.59
Sibelius 7.5 Trade-Up (from Sibelius First or Sibelius Student): £319.94
Sibelius 7.5 Academic: £204.38
Guitar Center (US)
B&H listed many of the Sibelius 7.5 products as “special order” requiring 7-14 days shipping.