What Is Shareware?

Shareware is basically "try before you buy" 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 concept lets you try a program for a period of time before you buy it.  Once you have 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 them.

Shareware distribution gives users a chance to try software before buying it.  If you try a shareware program and continue using it, you are expected to register (purchase) the program.  With registration, you get anything from the simple right to continue using the software to an updated program with printed manual.

Shareware authors are accomplished programmers, just like commercial authors, and the programs are of comparable quality.  (In both cases, there are good programs and bad ones!).  The main difference is in the method of distribution.

The Shareware concept makes fitting your needs easier, because you can try before you buy.  And because the overhead is low, prices are low also.  Shareware has the ultimate money-back guarantee - if you don't use the product, you don't pay for it!

Prices for shareware vary from program to program, but you will always find the price mentioned somewhere in the files you obtain when you downloaded or were given an evaluation copy.  Most of the time the price for the program will be found in a .TXT or .DOC or READ.ME. For Windows programs, this information will probably be found in the .HLP file.

Copyright laws apply to both Shareware and commercial software, and the copyright holder retains all rights.

In summary :

  • Shareware is a method of distributing software
  • You can download and evaluate a shareware program before buying it
  • Your trial period is usually limited to 30-60 days, after which time you must make a decision to either purchase the software or else uninstall the software from your PC.
  • If you register (purchase) the program, you will often receive a password key to remove shareware "nag" screens or you will be mailed a diskette/CD.

Editorial - A shareware author speaks

Commentary - Before You Buy That Software...

More info - Frequently asked questions about Shareware


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