What is Shareware

By: Dan Housley

What is Shareware?

by Dan Housley

What is Shareware?
Shareware is software that you can try before you buy;
shareware is a kind of marketing method for software.
Software developers post trial versions of their software on
websites. Consumers can then download the trial version to
their computer and evaluate it. If the consumer likes the
software they can purchase it. Shareware is also called try
before you buy.

Today almost every big software company including Microsoft,
Winzip, and AOL use trial versions or a form of shareware to
market their software.

Why is shareware better than any other marketing method?
Shareware is a good way to market software. It allows
consumers to evaluate an application prior to making a
purchase decision. They can easily determine if it meets
their business or personal needs, which usually results to a
satisfied customer. In addition because shareware companies
are often small they can provide personalized service that
is not found in larger companies. Shareware also allows for
instant gratification, there is no need to wait for a
shipment. Consumers can download and use the software

Freeware vs. Shareware.
As you know shareware is a marketing method for software.
Freeware is also a way of marketing software. However,
freeware is free so the developer does not ever request any
money. Shareware is free to distribute but cannot be used
for an unlimited amount of time, unless the developer is
paid. Freeware can be used an unlimited amount of time and
can be freely distributed; payment is not required.

developers use freeware to draw attention to their shareware

What is software piracy?
There are several kinds of software piracy. One kind of
software piracy is hacking into software and disabling the
copy protection. Software pirates then distribute or sell
the hacked software. The developer does not receive any
money for the software the hacker distributed. This is an
infringement on the developer's copyright.

Another technique used by hackers is to illegally obtain a
registered copy of software. Pirates purchase the software
once and use it on multiple computers. Purchasing software
with a stolen credit card is another form of software
piracy. Unfortunately there are many kinds of software
piracy that has slowed the industry's growth. In order for
developers to continue to develop software and provide
support the software needs to be profitable.

Registration Incentives.
A registration incentive is something that makes the person
using the shareware version of the software want to buy.
There are a number of incentives developers use to encourage
users to buy. One popular registration incentive is to limit
the time of the trial version. This is clever because then
the user can't use the shareware version forever. It
encourages them to buy the software so they can continue to
use it when the trial period is over.

Often shareware versions will have "grayed out" features on
the menu that the consumer can see, but not use. Typically
there is a pop-up windows in the software encouraging users
to register in order to take advantage of the additional
features. This is a popular registration method because if
the person wants to do more things with the program, then
they are forced to buy the registered version of the

Another innovative registration incentive shareware
developers use allows customers to receive discounts on
other software once they have purchased the registered

Developers also provide support incentives. The shareware
version of software will have everything the registered
version has, however, if a person buys the registered
version of the software he/she will receive tech support,
newslettersFeature Articles, and upgrades. Developers can also limit the
number of times you can use the shareware version of the
product. The trial version may expire after 10 uses meaning
the user has to register if they wish to continue using the

Shareware now and how the term changed.
Though the meaning of the term shareware has not changed the
perception of shareware has evolved since it began. At first
when you had a shareware program there was a note that asked
for a donation. Now you are required to pay for the
registered version of the shareware program. The shareware
industry has also evolved and grown into a billion dollar


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