Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is shareware?
A: Shareware is a
marketing method, not a type of software. Unlike software
marketed through normal retail channels, where you are
forced to pay for the product before you've even seen it,
the shareware marketing method lets you try program for a
period of time before you buy it. Since you've tried a
shareware program, you know whether it will meet your
needs before you pay for it. Shareware programs are just
like programs you find in major stores, catalogs, and
other places where people purchase software -- except you
get to use them, on your own computer, before paying for
Q: What happens if I
like a shareware program?
A: You pay for it at the
end of a trial period (typically 30 days) by sending the
author a fee he or she has established for the program.
Q: Why should I pay for
and register a shareware program?
A: The same reason you
should pay for any program: because it is the honest
thing to do. Shareware is commercial software, fully
protected by copyright laws. Like other business owners,
shareware authors expect to earn money for making their
programs available. Paying for and registering a program
also entitles you to support from the author and other
benefits, as specified by the author. Moreover, the more
consumers who pay an author to use a program, the more
likely the author will continue to improve it and to
offer new programs.
Q: How do shareware
programs compare with other kinds of software?
A: Consumers who purchase
shareware programs receive a level of product support
that exceeds what traditional software manufacturers
deliver. Shareware users who need support often speak
directly to the actual developer of the program, who is
intimately familiar with how it operates and therefore
can provide excellent technical support. Shareware
authors often fix bugs in programs and add features
quickly, based on feedback from users.
There is a wide price
range for shareware, as there is with software
distributed through other channels. In general, many
shareware programs cost less than other kinds of
software, while some programs cost about the same as
Q: What do I receive
when I pay for a shareware program, besides the use of
A: Typically, the same
things you receive when you pay for other software:
support by telephone, FAX, and email. Many authors also send
manuals, reference cards, and other printed materials,
and may offer free upgrades. Every shareware program is
different, so the version you purchase comes with
different materials. Documentation files included with
the program describe the benefits you receive by paying
for and registering a particular shareware program.
Q: What happens if I
don't like a shareware program?
A: You simply stop using
the program, and remove it from your system. Since you
have had the opportunity to try the program first before
paying for it, you lose only the tiny amount of money you
spent to download the program or to acquire it from a
vendor or other source.
Q: What types of
shareware are available?
A: All types, including
games, word processing, real estate, personal finance,
graphics, education, utilities, and host of others.
Chances are that if you're looking for a program to
perform a certain task, it's available as shareware. The
lower costs of creating and distributing shareware
programs allows developers to take risks in creating a
wider variety of products than is available through
traditional software marketing channels.
In general, shareware
authors offer four types of programs: those whose
capabilities parallel software available in retail
stores, but which are considerably less expensive; those
which enhance or extend capabilities incorporated in
popular software programs; those that perform functions
that cannot be found in software sold in retail stores;
and those that offer a radical new approach to performing
Q: How can I learn more
about specific shareware programs?
A: Try different programs!
The beauty of shareware is that you can actually test a
program's features before paying for it.
Other than trying
shareware programs, word of mouth is an excellent source
of information. As part of their software copyright,
shareware authors encourage users to give copies of their
programs to others to evaluate. Friends and colleagues
help advertise a particular program when they pass it
along to you. Your local computer user's group is also a
rich source of information about shareware programs.
Many computer magazines
also review shareware programs. Many of these programs
have been picked as the best in their class against
software available at retail stores.
Q: Does using shareware
increase the chances of introducing a virus into my
A: If you do your homework and look for
shareware companies who have their own domain name and web site, and who
have released several programs into the marketplace and been in business
for several years, your chance of contracting a virus from their
software is near nil. However, you would always be wise to use
anti-virus software and a personal firewall like Zone Alarm or Kerio
when downloading and installing new software.
Q: Where can I find
A: On the Internet, web sites such as PC Shareware, Inc. offers an excellent resource for
downloading shareware programs.
Q: Why do software
developers choose to market their programs through the
A: Shareware is an
efficient way to run a software business. Authors do not
spend nearly as much money marketing, packaging, and
advertising their products as do developers of software
sold through traditional channels. Lower costs mean
shareware authors can concentrate on writing great
programs, while often charging users less.
Shareware authors also
retain complete control over their programs -- a powerful
incentive to programmers who have developed products from
the beginning, and would rather see their fate determined
by technical, rather than marketing, considerations.
Shareware authors recognize that their programs have to
be good. If they're not, consumers simply won't buy them.
IBM and Microsoft are just
two of the software companies that have recognized these
benefits of the shareware channel, as both have
distributed "try before you buy" versions of
products within the last year.
Q: What is the
Association of Shareware Professionals, and how does it
benefit me as a consumer?
A: The Association of Shareware Professionals (ASP) is an international trade
organization comprised of over 1500 shareware authors,
vendors and online providers. Its members agree to uphold
high standards of professionalism and to always deal
fairly and courteously with their customers. The ASP logo
on a shareware product means that product has been
produced by an ASP member. In addition, the ASP maintains
an Ombudsman service, which can help customers resolve
any problems with ASP members.
Q: What is PKZIP?
A: A .ZIP file is a single
compressed file that contains many larger files.
Compressed files are popular because they cut your
downloading time in half or even less, and make it
possible to fit large collections of files onto one
To decompress a .ZIP file,
you need a copy of the current version of PKUNZIP, which
is a shareware program. Click here to download a copy. Then copy it to your \DOS
WINDOWS: in File Manager,
move the PKUNZIP.EXE program to the DOS directory if it
is not there already.
Since PKUNZIP is a DOS
application/utility, it is best to run it from a C:>
DOS prompt. Click here for detailed, step by step examples on how
to use PKUNZIP once it has been installed and
decompressed on your hard disk.
If you are unfamiliar with
DOS, and would prefer a Windows unzip utility, check out The Unzip