Thing is, that tells me nothing about long-term plans. My concerns are all laid out above, and I would like them answered if I'm going to continue using Audentio's products. That "no guarantee of one-on-one support" only makes me think that if I open a ticket or contact them with everything I laid out in my prior post, I may not even get an answer. And that if I have a styling issue, I'm on my own to reinvent their CSS/LESS coding and templates to tweak what I need to. A five minute exchange of messages with the developer could save me hours of labor. It's not as big of a deal on my smaller forums, but when running a forum with tens of millions of posts and thousands online at a time, changing a style or removing add-ons mid-stream is upsetting in more ways than one.As Mike said just above, it's "still free and likely to stay that way, just no guarantee of one on one support under a free license."
I really liked everything I ever purchased from ThemeHouse, but the bulk of the add-ons I used were discontinued to open source, and I had specifically chosen ThemeHouse/Audentio since they were well-established and I was counting on them for the long haul. I'd been burned way too many times on XF 1.x from developers who wrote great add-ons but disappeared shortly thereafter.
They've made it clear that they're moving away from themes (styles) and add-ons for an app-based approach. And I agree, the remaining products are way too steeply priced at $1,000/year to make it a wise decision for us. (I only have use for one or two add-ons; all the rest do not interest me.)
Bottom line? I don't want to invest time modifying AC.UI only to have that be discontinued several months from now. That's my main concern. I do like most of the mobile touches added to AC.UI, so that is a huge plus. Despite our forum skewing older (and having been established 19 years ago), we've crossed the threshold to where more than half of visits are on mobile devices. So I do need something like AC.UI. But I also don't need to get several months out and have it be discontinued, leaving me scrambling again (like I am now) to find a replacement.
I'd like to do the opposite. I'd keep Feeds as the main landing page, but might make the Recent Activity tab the default if that is possible. But, offer a single link so that our older members could return to the traditional forum view with a single click or tap. (Here's a nice added feature for AC.UI--letting members choose either the Feeds or Forums view as their default.)My members also skew older, so I kept the default forums page but am currently using Feeds as a substitute for What's New, mainly because I like the Hot feed and Card view.
But I also like your idea of getting rid of What's New in favor of Feeds--it is a much better way to present the information, and allows visitors to weed out new activity they would rather not see. I need to play around with Feeds a lot more, and try tweaking how and where it displays. That is...if that, too, is not suddenly discontinued, or added to the expensive bundle...