Shareware Programs – What You Need To Know
The term Shareware or Shareware Program refers to software that is offered free for a limited time or with limited features. You may have seen software downloads on the web offered on a free trial basis. It is a great way to test out a new program or see what new features you would get if you bought an upgraded version of your existing software. Shareware allows you to play around and experience these new features before you commit to buying anything.
Why Are Shareware Programs Free?
Needless to say, the idea behind offering a software program for free is to get the user to try out the program before he or she buys a fully operable product. Software companies realize that when users have the ability to use their product for a significant period of time, they will get accustomed to using it and get a case of separation anxiety when it gets taken away. Hence, they're more willing to plunk down some dollars (or credit card numbers) to buy it. Have you ever experienced high-definition TV at a hotel and then come home to your old grainy television? It's hard not to want that HD again once you've experienced its crystal clarity. Shareware companies hope you get that same moment of truth when you go back to your old clunky software.
Are They Safe?
Shareware is pretty safe as long as you are downloading it from a reputable company. Many reputable companies offer shareware of their latest updated software. Make sure you have anti-virus software on your computer before downloading anything, shareware or otherwise.
What's The Catch?
There's no, catch, honest, other than the limitations set forth by the shareware provider. For example, if you download a trial version of the latest Microsoft Office software, it might work for 30 days just fine, then it will ask you to upgrade to the full version before you can continue to use the programs. If you are asked for your credit card information when downloading the shareware, keep in mind that you will most likely be charged a fee for use after a trial period. Read the fine print, don't get blindsided by "Terms & Conditions" blather !.
How Is Shareware Different From Freeware?
Simply put, shareware programs come free "with limitations," that is, you'll get pitched to buy it later on. Only freeware is truly permanently free. You will not be asked to upgrade later with a freeware download. As a rule of thumb, any program that you find being sold for real money at a Best Buy or Office Depot, or anywhere else, come to think of it, you are not going to find as freeware on the Web. Selling software in stores while at the same time offering it free on the web would be the world's worst business plan!