Fortunately, SCAL is in no way 'defunct.' It still works and is still supported by CraftEdge. PC can stop them from releasing updates, but they can't take the program out of my hands or make it cease to function.
I have Cricut Design Studio - and have had it, literally, since the DAY it was released. I have been a very strong supporter of Cricut and Provo Craft for about 6 years. I'm done. In my opinion PC is selfish, controlling, and uncaring. They've heard - over and over and over and over (since the beginning) - about what people wanted added to the design studio and refused to add it. When another company did what PC refused to do, PC bullied them into submission. I will sink no more money into the company.
I DO, however, still have and use an Expression, baby bug, Cricut Design Studio, 35 cartridges, Cuttlebug, Cuttlekids .... AND my SCAL.
We all have to do what works for us and what we think is best for us and our values. I'm VERY glad that the Cricut items suit your needs, but remember that they do not suit everyone's needs - like mine.