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Shareware Software

Shareware Software
Shareware Software

Shareware Software

Software that’s up for grabs

Shareware software: You can download everything for free, from spreadsheets to games online.

If you’ve bought a shirt and then returned it because it didn’t fit right, you understand the basic principle of shareware.

Shareware refers to any software package that programmers post online for people to copy onto their own computers and try free (sometimes, for very little up front). If you like it, you’re expected to pay for it; if you don’t like it, you’re on your honor to notify the author and delete the program from you computer.

In many cases, shareware programs are just as good as commercial offerings and are available in almost every category of software, from spreadsheets to word processors to personal information managers – and a ton of games. You can get shareware from a computer user’s group or directly from the author, but the most common source in an online bulletin board service.

Shareware software (or shareware programs) cost anywhere from $5 to $200; on average, you’ll pay about $50, much less than you’d pay for a comparable commercial package. Most authors will let you try out their package for a week or so, and of the program that you get to evaluate won’t be the absolute final product (it might, for example, have certain limits that the full-feature program does not); this is the author’s way of encouraging you purchase the real thing.

If you haven’t paid after a reasonable amount of time, look out. The honor system of shareware is basic “netiquette”, and if you violate it, he prepared for a flood of reminders, which will become increasingly angry, and rightfully so, – you’re stealing the author’s property.

Once you pay, the author of the program will send you a manual, most often in electronic form; sometimes, you’ll also get a printed version of it. You will then be put on a mailing list to get updates or new versions of the programs; you might also be sent a set of new disks. Trying out shareware is a great way to save money on software and lets you look at cutting-edge programs before they’re snapped up by big companies. “Doom”, one of the world’s most popular computer games. Started out as shareware and is still available at dozens of sites on the internet and online services.

Sometimes, programmers feel magnanimous and decide to give away their programs free. This kind of software is called freeware or public domain software, and it’s posted as such on online bulletin services. Freeware and public domain are generally simple programs, like macros – keyboard shortcuts for functions – in other software or basic organizers. Unlike shareware, public domain and freeware really is free – no salesperson will call.

Companies that share: These companies can provide you with a list of shareware and public domain software: CWI, PC-SIG, Public Brand Software, Public Software library, Shareware Express, ZIFFNet (or CompuServe), America Online.

(Text about shareware software first published in 1994 which reflects the situation in that old gone epoch).

­See also:

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