Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Trial software packages use various techniques to enforce the trial period. There's one sure way to keep using software after the period has expired.

Where is it recorded that a program can be used only for 30 days and then must be purchased? Though I've uninstalled it, it remembers the previous installation and will not let me re-install it.

Free trials are a great way to try-before-you-buy software, so that you can determine whether or not an application is in fact the right solution for you, before you put down your hard earned money.

Applications use different techniques to track the free trial period.

But using the application after the trial period is over, is often still very, very easy.

Buy the software.

Seriously, by far the most effective, and I have to say ethical, way to keep using software past its trial period - however long that might be - would be to purchase it. The software is not free, and the provider has allowed you to try it out. If you've decided that you want to keep using it then the right thing to do is to spend the money and buy it.

"If you've decided that you want to keep using it then the right thing to do is to spend the money and buy it."

Can't afford it? Well, you're not entitled to a free copy, so your choice is clear: don't use it, or use something else.

I know that's not the answer you were looking for, but it's the right answer.

To actually answer the question you asked...

Programs keep track of trial period in different ways. The most obvious is by using a registry entry, perhaps an obscure one, that as you've seen is left behind after the program is uninstalled. Where in the registry this might be kept is anyone's guess, and will vary from application to application.

That's the obvious way, and it's actually not that difficult for someone with a little technical expertise to reverse-engineer.

So, other applications might use other techniques. Hidden files, benign modifications to other files ... some have even been known to write to hidden parts of your hard disk.

So for the average user, it's a tough situation to overcome. You could install on another machine for another trial period, but I'm guessing you'll eventually run out of machines. (Though using Virtual Machines for this purpose, while a fair amount of work, could be used to "look like" a new machine each time.)

But, honestly, if it's worth that much effort, it's gotta be worth the purchase price.

Just buy the software.

Article C3677 - March 16, 2009 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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72 Comments
Todd Helmkamp
March 16, 2009 11:53 AM

That's one of the reasons you're the first place I check for answers, Leo. Keep up the integrity!

AdeN
March 16, 2009 1:41 PM

Damn right.
Also worth noting that cracks and key generators put you at risk of viruses and spyware.
Great advise!

Vincent
March 16, 2009 3:43 PM

"If you've decided that you want to keep using it then the right thing to do is to spend the money and buy it."

I dont know. I'm not advocating trying to crack a piece of software to keep using it, but just because a software may be decent enough to keep using if it was free, doesnt always mean its good enough to be worth paying for it when the time comes.

If it's not worth it, then stop using it. Seems simple.
- Leo
17-Mar-2009
Ken B
March 17, 2009 8:34 AM

"[J]ust because a software may be decent enough to keep using if it was free, doesnt always mean its good enough to be worth paying for it when the time comes."

Translation: You don't think it's worth the price they're asking.

Solution: Find a legal copy at a discounted price that you this is "worth it", or use something else.

Daniel O
March 17, 2009 8:47 AM

I'm pretty sure that people who want to know how to continue using software for free, even after the trial period expires, would throw a fit if their employer asked them to work without pay.

And yet they'll claim on reading this that "It's Not The Same Thing!" - when of course, it is.
- Leo
18-Mar-2009

Prof. Brian Bevan
March 17, 2009 9:01 AM

I do agree with your statement!
But! there should be better offers on the cost of software. before my retirement I spent a lot of money of my own and various companies to whom I was a consultant. Now as a pensioner I can no longer run some of that software because of their cost. Surely companies like MS Adobe HP etc should have the decency to allow much cheaper purchases of their software.

While I absolutely sympathize with your plight, I don't understand the argument. It boils down to "I can't afford ____ so the manifacturer should make it cheaper." Aside from the discounts that are already commonly available, you wouldn't expect that at a book store, a clothing store, or when buying a house or a car.

"I'm sorry, this Toyota Prius is too expensive, you should sell it at half that price because I can't afford it" doesn't make sense ... why is software any different?
- Leo
18-Mar-2009

George Larson
March 17, 2009 9:02 AM

Right.. I, as a developer, completely agree with the ethical standpoint. That said, I have cheated trial periods in the past when I was wanting to test software for which I did not have a frequent need and the trial was limited by time. Ultimately, the result was the same. I either paid for it or didn't use it.

In personal practice, I'll go quite out of my way to find (and support) FOSS solutions.

Ed C
March 17, 2009 9:07 AM

Let's just hope that this guy will try to edit his registry....without making a backup copy!!

Andrew Johnson
March 17, 2009 9:17 AM

It does not take a whole lot of inventiveness to fool a 30 day trial.

That being said, I whole-heartedly believe in paying for what you use. However, I never have enough time to learn a program in 30 days (not to the level I like). I would like to see many programs I use in my professional life available for personal 'educational' use.

But, this is not the way of the world. So, open source everything!!

Richard H
March 17, 2009 9:25 AM

I have been a user of trial software many times & I say, I personally agree with leo. If it's good enough to want it that bad, Then just buy it.
PS. Although I know how to reconfigure my registry, "I DO NOT" advocate doing so.

Mike Ronga
March 17, 2009 9:32 AM

DUH...... have ya ever tried to "google" that question? The fact is ya get what ya pay for and thats just they way it is!Instant Karma is gonna get ya.Im almost certain that for most software there is usually an open source program that will work.Stealing is not the answer!

Miklo

ramaraobobby
March 17, 2009 9:50 AM

I was certainly not expecting this when I eagerly clicked on this topic to read more from the newsletter coz its the default option the owner opt us to do. So I felt there is no point in saying the same thing by you as a tech guru. Thought it might be the legitimate way, your post would have been even better if you tried to explain a bit more about registry tweaking or reverse engineering you were talking about.
A person who has reinstalled the program to use it, itself means he is not willing/can't afford to buy the sftw. So What's your point in suggesting to him to buy the sftw. Even the post title didn't suit to what you have said here coz buying the program is the default option that any one is left with to keep using that program past its free trial period. You may say that "I buy the program to keep it running" coz you can afford it. If its the case with all others then why these cracks/serials etc., are made and used. There would be no issue at all. So, this article of yours didn't impress me much. Its doesn't mean that I don't support the default legitimate way,I do but I usually come here not to know the same old thing from you but to know some tips n tricks to crack or tweak the software so that I can make it run past the trail period. That's what a real tech. guy is all about. Don't offend by this comment of mine but this is what I felt after reading this post of yours. I genuinely appreciate you for good posts and point your mistake for posts like this. That's what a real follower is all about. Isn't it??

joselle merritt
March 17, 2009 10:02 AM

I knew I loved your newsletters and now my opinion has gone up even more! Thank you for making the point that being ethical is the way to go. I don't want to work for free and neither do the people that write programs. Is it inconvenient - yes. Do use old programs sometimes because either I can't afford new ones or the old ones still work - yes. Do I want them for free - yes. But it's still not ok to steal them. Tweaking a system is one thing - outrights stealing is another. If you, the user, are too cheap to pay for a program - write one for yourself and send it out free. Let me know what you write, it may only be worth what I pay (nothing).

Sandra
March 17, 2009 10:10 AM

If you truly need more time to make an informed decision, it doesn't hurt to contact the company and ask for more time. We have done that many times and most of the time the company will accommodate you. (Also, if you are a student or teacher and need the software for school use, several companies such as Adobe and Microsoft offer education discounts.)

Jim Fischer
March 17, 2009 10:34 AM

I have repeadedly tried to puchase Windows Live One Care with obtaining it. I do think its gone also. Comments?::::::::::::::::::::

Anthony McGuire
March 17, 2009 10:47 AM

Aren't we experiencing a finanancial crisis? Aren't enough firms going under because of this. If people keep on finding new ways of pirating copies of software more and more firms are going to end up the same way because they don't have enoug income to cover the cost of wages. People are relying on their wage packets to keep up their mortgage payments. Don't be the cause of people losing their homes because you want to be a 'pirate'1 If you haven't got the money to buy legal programmes then sell your PC.
Tony
Denmark

Ray Rodden
March 17, 2009 11:00 AM

Did the 60 day trial of microsoft office - hated the new interface.

Tried the free Open Office. more like i am used to working. now use this. saved a fortune on MS Office that i don't need.

Use AVG anti-virus free. liked it. Used it free for a long time (two years or more!) but decided this is worth it. bought the paid for version.

Have used 'bootleg' copies of other programs but, if i like it, then buy the program when the next upgrade comes along.

If you ant new versions then it has to be funded.
Pay them for their work!

BILLKENNEDY
March 17, 2009 11:03 AM

I agree do not steal nuff said

Stuart
March 17, 2009 11:07 AM

The question itself indicates the decline of ethics in just about every facet of life today. While I appreciate the ease with which purchases can be made over the internet, I long for the face-to-face transactions of past generations. I'm no Luddite, but can you imagine trying to buy provisions at a market without paying for them?

As a teacher, I have experienced that feeling of "I wish I could afford this for my classroom." And several times I have written to the developer to explain my limited budget. In a surprising number of cases, I was offered a reduced rate. So it never hurts to ask -- the worst that can happen is the vendor says no. After all, the programmers have already finished their work, so any money is better than no money!

But it is so sad that someone even asked the question in this forum. Even sadder that a few respondents expressed disappointment that Leo didn't help circumvent the eminently fair try-then-buy system. Thank you, Leo, for standing up for the right way.

rocketman
March 17, 2009 11:13 AM

If ya want to b a WHINE bag then be one. If ya want to be a Pirate then be one, BUT DONT KNOCK ON THE DOOR IF YOU DONT INTEND TO ANSWER IT. In other words why do you still have internet? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Luis Soto-Diaz
March 17, 2009 11:17 AM

If you are not afraid to dwell with the registry with caution. Then try the following procedure.
Every program leaves behind traces in the registry of its programs software. So you are not really deleting(remove)the expired program.
Go to START->RUN-> type: regedit,select(top left)EDIT-> FIND. Here you type the name of the program you previously deleted and hit ENTER. Delete every entry that you find(Only lines with the entry). Now you can re-download as new.
The moral of this answer is "Do not garbage my computer"

Alexander More
March 17, 2009 11:58 AM

Some programs make it incredibly easy. I very occasionally use WinZip to package up files for e-mailing or uploading. The trial period has long since expired, but on the nag screen that pops up every time I start the program, in addition to the button that one clicks on to buy a licence there's another that says "continue using the trial version", and it just goes on working time and again. I am always in the middle of an operation when I want to use WinZip and I don't want to break off half way through, so I just click on that button. I really must pay for it, though. The spirit is willing, though the flesh (so far) has been weak.

Vincent
March 17, 2009 12:27 PM

"If it's not worth it, then stop using it. Seems simple. "

I think you missed the point I was making. The threshold of it being "worth it" changes once payment is required.

To be clear, I am not refering to pirated versions of software. But just because a progam is "worth it" if all I need to do is download it and install it, doesnt mean that same program is still worth it if I then have to pay to continue using.

For example, why pay to use winzip, when 7-zip is just as good and free? I had a trial version of office, which I didnt pay to upgrade once it ran out as I found open office to do just as good a job on what I needed to be done.

Unless you need something done to a professional level, very few programs can justify the money they charge you to continue using it.

Ian Scales
March 17, 2009 12:31 PM

Yes, I'm all for ethics but it doesn't seem to cut both ways!
I've bought software that doesn't come with a free trial period; you just get a non-functioning or hobbled download until you pay. Fine, but when you activate and use the software you find that, at best, it does a p***-poor job compared to the claims in their hype, or, at worst, it trashes your system and has to be carefully removed. If the latter requires the manual removal of all relevant registry keys, that can mean hours of painstaking work, for a non-IT professional user.
Now, if you are lucky, they respond to your tech questions and give you options to try before throwing-in the towel. But, as soon as you email their Admin department and ask for your 30-day refund, having spent ages purging their "garbagewear" from your system, guess what? No answer. And, no further answers to any emails to any of their addresses again - ever! After all, they've got your money. It may only be twenty or thirty bucks here and there but it's happened to me a few times so it's added-up.
I now avoid all purchase-and-download software as it seems to be the vendors who are the crooks, not the poor old users, as everyone seems to be quick to think... What was that about glass-houses and stones?

This is true for any industry, not just software. If you don't like how a company does business - don't do business with that company. That's a rule that's much older than even computers themselves.
- Leo
18-Mar-2009

Jerrix
March 17, 2009 12:35 PM

What in the world does the statement "DONT KNOCK ON THE DOOR IF YOU DONT INTEND TO ANSWER IT" mean? Do you mean answer it yourself? It makes no sense at all! Rephrase it.

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one confused by that comment. :-)

In fairness, this site gets a lot of traffic from around the globe, and this feels like perhaps a local idiom that doesn't quite survive translation into English. But I could be wrong.
- Leo
18-Mar-2009

Nick
March 17, 2009 2:38 PM

I think "DONT KNOCK ON THE DOOR IF YOU DONT INTEND TO ANSWER IT" is a wonderful surreal statement. I love it. I think I'll adopt it as advice to give to idiots.

Re the original problem, while I agree with the sentiments vis-a-vis software theft, one idea might be to change the system date on the computer. Not a very GOOD idea, possibly, but an idea nevertheless.

William Bankston
March 17, 2009 2:43 PM

I agree that this individual should buy the program. If this individual is employed, does he/she work for free and not expect to get paid?

Hugh
March 17, 2009 3:27 PM

Quite often you will find that its Open source software that the vendor has acquired,stuck a new front end on it in order to get your money...so as it happens I reckon that all the best stuff is free,so I never pay for software...the best things in life are free...and always will be.

Mike
March 17, 2009 4:25 PM

What burns me is there are free programs which programmers have donated plus the open source, However, Google freeware and spend an hour weeding out the 30 day wonders, This is ethical ?

Koen
March 17, 2009 10:57 PM

If you use a good regcleaner (like CCleaner, which is freeware by the way) it's not that difficult to clean up after a trial. Don't make it hard on yourself.

O. Orcan
March 17, 2009 11:49 PM

Recently, I downloaded and installed a trialware program and didn't like it. My computer slowed down, bootup time went up to 26 seconds from 18 seconds, memory problems came up, etc. Then I used its own uninstaller. Afterwards, some of the problems were still there. Then I used a freeware uninstaller (REVO)and realized that this expensive CAD software still had almost 2,000 registry entries left in my PC and installed some hidden info in my HD as well. How about that? It seems some trialware programs can be very harmful indeed.

Chris
March 18, 2009 1:57 AM

Dudes, if you like the software enough that you feel you would willingly uninstall and redownload it to continue using it, you should for sure spend the 10-20 bucks to keep it... If not, find some other low key software that does the same thing (or close to it) that's freeware..

Imagine if someone highers you to do simple work for them that they were very capable of doing themselves. Now imagine that they try you out and tell you ok, they need you to do the work and you do it. Now imagine them telling you they want you to do more work for them, and you agree. Now, your finished with the work and you go to get paid. "You wanted money for that? Why should we pay you, we could have done it ourselves."

Fred
March 18, 2009 3:14 AM

Surprising no-one yet used the best excuse "I wouldn't buy it anyway, so its the same to them if I crack it"
I admit to doing this: if you have the time and not the money..... maybe....... just for the challenge.....
BUT I later found out the biggest reason not to. By doing this, you are actually helping those rip-off companies gain more market share, and stopping Open Source demand. Micro$oft loves people to use cracked Office: because then everyine is used to it, and the people who buy software chose Office. If we all switch to Open Office, no-one will ever want to switch even if they have the money.
So support Open Source, and if you have to crack anything: keep quiet about it, and enjoy the major virus' you get from all the crack sites.

Gerald Maenner
March 18, 2009 4:48 AM

To me it would make more sense to log the number of uses rather than the number of days. I find that when I install trial software I usually do it to address a specific issue. I don't run a "shakedown" on the stuff to make sure it does all that it's suppose to do. So I might install it on one day and not need to use it for a while. The next time I go to use it for some other purpose that time span may be longer than the trial period that was allocated. I don't consider 1 or 2 uses a legitimate trial.

Catmoves
March 18, 2009 12:28 PM

I agree wholeheartedly with Gerald Maenner in his appraisal. I've found so many (blushing) programs that I "meant to try out" after their artificial time trial expired, that I have to defrag after I remove the traces of their being on my 'puter.
But to hack someone's hard work so I can keep a couple of coffees in my pocket? No, thank you. I was taught to have morals and be as honest as possible.

Matthew
March 18, 2009 12:47 PM

In some isolated cases when I need a day or two of extra usage in the trial, I generally set back the Windows system date a couple of days to when the trial was still activated. This would work for many programs that have a trial period based on time, rather than number of uses.

Sol
March 18, 2009 8:34 PM

Most software vendors are honest, hardworking individuals/organisations. Only a minority are crooks - as in real everyday life. Your answer is the best : buy the software if you want it. It IS the right thing to do. It generates business which is good.

LSD
March 18, 2009 9:42 PM

Bill Gates took the CP/M program from DRI founder Gary Kildall and Insert words into texts, often falsifying it there by altering it and sold it to IBM (and the world).
The Xerox Star did not experience any commercial success, but its ideas were reproduced and make an exact copy by Apple Computer (Jobs, Steven Paul & Wozniak, Stephen).
Have they served any time in jail ..yet??
Leo, your concerned with principles of right and wrong or conforming to standards of behaviour and character based on those principles issue doesn't have much to stand on.

I can't speak to the Xerox/Apple story, but the CP/M to MS-DOS scenario you outline is totally false. I know you won't believe me, but I don't want others to propagate that falsehood.
- Leo
19-Mar-2009

ed hyde
March 19, 2009 4:58 AM

I often use free trial software and can't afford most of it,but about using it past its use date wrong is still wrong and right is still right no mater if everyone else does it there is still personell integrity

Thom
March 19, 2009 5:44 AM

Leo, I've been in the computer business for over 20 years, and usually can get by most schemes of trial software. But, I don't bother, because I found a long time ago that most of it is junk, not necessary, and a waste of time. I've been using mostly open source software, including the Oc (Ubuntu), and it is just as good, and most times better than their counterpart commercial programs.

Daniel Allen
March 19, 2009 8:20 PM

You are correct Leo. Most software has taken years to develop and the people who sell it deserve to be paid for their efforts. If this kind of behaviour was allowed to happen freely, what incentive would there be to create new software for us? Well, done Leo!

William Sithole
March 20, 2009 4:01 AM

You are right Leo, surely the use of trial software past its use date is not only unethical but illegal. So using it or contemplating using it beyond its use date is taking a dangerous risk. Is it worth it?

Ken B
March 20, 2009 7:53 AM

Leo, you keep asking "how is (stealing software versus stealing a car) any different?"

I'll tell you what I've found from many people who do steal software... They feel the price should be based on the fact that they can buy a blank CD-R for under 50 cents. "Why does this program cost $700 when the CD only costs 50 cents" is a not-uncommon question asked by many people. (And this is made an even bigger issue by these people when you can download the trial version for free, and "all you need" to make it a full version is enter a license key. Check out Yahoo Answers to see how many people are asking "where can I get a key for X".)

And yet, you never hear people saying "why do I have to pay $20 for this book, the paper and ink only costs a few cents at most?"
- Leo
21-Mar-2009

Steve Bukosky
March 20, 2009 12:54 PM

The times I've tried to use trial software has been for games where I've already bought it but needed to reload it due to a crash or whatever. I've tried to keep records but a few times had no proof that I paid for the download. In trying to extend the free trial, I became fascinated on how they track this even though I've manually cleaned the registry. But beyond trying to recover what I've paid for, I agree that if it's worth using it's worth paying for. Which makes me angry when programs that I've paid good money for, like Acronis Image, fails to work when you need it.

emha irsani
March 21, 2009 4:45 AM

it sounds very simple, but not for me. do you have any sugestions how to continu instal deep freeze (my son use my computer to play game and instal new game), so i must prevent it using freeze (trial version)

Mike Hammond
March 22, 2009 7:18 PM

You will find that if you bide your time on a piece of software you like but don't like the price then wait as we all know in time the price does and will come down to what you can afford.
In any case there are thousands upon thousands of free programs that do just the right job you want it's a matter of taking time out and looking.
I use all free software from virus protectors to hard drive cleaners etc...JUST LOOK DON'T STEAL it does work out cheaper in the long run.

Linda
March 24, 2009 7:24 AM

Good answer, Leo! Any other answer and I would seriously consider canceling my subscription to the Newsletter.

Chris
March 24, 2009 9:42 AM

If you need to use the program for an extended period, buy it, or find a free/low cost version with similar capabilites. That said, the the trial periods exist for a reason - the company want to convince you to try and buy their product. There are instances where I have installed a program, but then not had time to Try it before it expired. An email or call to the company has usually resulted in an extended trial period.
I think that if you are truely evaluating before purchase, registy hacks or setting the date back are in an ethical gray area, that I feel is within the intent of the trial offer.
The degraded performance and garbage left behind by incomplete removal of trial software is also a practicle and ethical problem.

sirpaul1
April 7, 2009 4:57 PM

I'll give you a perfect scenario why sometimes 30 days is not enough time, and it has nothing to do with being unethical, immoral or illegal.
If I have a need for software, and will have to pay for it, I want to be sure it meets my needs. Instead of downloading a new program every 30 days, I'll just download 5-6 at once. Then I'll start evaluating.
Since I have a life outside the computer, sometimes it's hard to evaluate them in 15-30 days. I'll check back on one I've started, to see if it has a certain feature, but my time is up.
I would much rather see the 'limit standard' based on number of uses rather than a time limit. Some software companies have seen the light and use this technique, but most do not.
I know! I know! If it's a program I really want to evaluate more, there are programs out there which may or may not help or come with unwanted 'surprises'. Or I can hack the registry, remove all traces, and download again. (Don't try this unless you know what you're doing - you might have to reformat your computer!)
A few companies have got my money from the last method, but it's a pain you know where. Long live shareware! But please consider the user!

Sean
May 21, 2009 10:05 AM

Where the these residual files stored? i.e. the files which remember whether your trial has ended.

Ohh and there is a huge moral difference between stealing software (pirate) and stealing someone's car.

You have to remember most of these programs are simply updates from previous programs with minor changes, and/or the removal of bugs. To go on and charge customers another $500.00+ is a joke considering the work involved.

Nikki
September 10, 2009 7:51 AM

this article was so not helpful. Of course you can buy a program and keep using in after the trial period...but what people want to know is how do you use a program after the trial period for FREE..just because you cant afford the program doesnt mean you arent entitled to a free copy because if you font have the money for it, its not very easy to use the program...and downloading a program or software for free is NOT like stealing a car, unless those programs or softwares help you get from place to place...which they don't cuz they can't...so therefore they arent even similar!

james
December 30, 2009 6:57 PM

just change the date on your computer so that the computer thinks its the same day everyday. Your software will never expire that way :)

john ford
January 1, 2010 8:13 AM

I agree with you,if people abuse the privilege and man'fs withdraw trials the cheats would be the first to complain,using trial software allows me to decide which to buy,

Denis
February 2, 2010 10:58 AM

I am somehow surprised by many comments here. A software is a good like any other goods and the people behind it (one person of many hundreds) have the right to be paid for their work. It is not any different than songs or CDs for singers or DVDs for actors, or buying a TV, a toaster or a book. Why would anyone give away something they spent a lot of hours, days, months or years to create it. And yes, I know you can find "free" software; and it is ok; it means that someone has decided to give it away for free; and that person has the right to do so.

If you cannot afford it, then you cannot use it. We would all like to have a home in the south of France, but if I cannot afford it I cannot have it. It is simple.

Having a computer with no software, except the OS that comes with it is like having a TV with no cable. You will only get the local channels. If you want more channels you need to "pay" a company which will offer you a choice of channels you want.

Jake Smith
February 2, 2010 10:58 AM

I've no problem paying for software I use. (If it is worth using.) What I find offensive are the the ads for 'Free Software', which in reality are simply ads for 'Free downloads'. I refuse to even try shareware where the producer uses deception to get me to try it. Truly good software does not need deceptive advertising to be successful.

Stuart
February 2, 2010 11:12 AM

It's really disappointing to see the number of people who condone this unethical practice. I would guess that anyone that has ever tried to sell a program they wrote, a book they authored, or an art piece they created would have a different viewpoint. Just because you don't see the person or company that you're trying to steal from does not make it right.

I am a forum moderator for a certain game that is stolen quite frequently from the various "torrent" sites. In order to register for the free support sub-forums, a user must provide the license number they received when they purchased the program. You would not believe the nasty, hateful mail that we receive just because we won't provide support to thieves! (Well, judging by some of the responses here, apparently many of you would believe it.)

Thank you, Leo, for continuing to support the right way to do things.

Tony McGuire
February 2, 2010 11:13 AM

The only trial programmes I have ever tried to download are 'Ant Virus' or 'Registry Cleaners' with trial registry numbers. The only problem is that the trial programmes find , or claim to find, for example maybe 500 erors bu will only repair less than half of these. If I want a complete cleansing then I have to purchase a fully registered programme. Very reasonable considering the work and effort spent producing the programme. No! what irretates me most is that any number of legally bough programmes can come up with different errors. Surely a virus or spyware is the same regardless of what programme one might use.
PS there must be hundreds of ways to cheat! For example by changing the computers date as one reader mentioned. However, this dsen't help in repairing the errors.

Pete
February 2, 2010 11:15 AM

I can't believe people say the things they say. Sure a blank CD costs only $.50 and emailing a license costs nothing.

But do people think the program appeared out of thin air. There can be hundreds to thousands of man hours behind writing the code. Who do you think pays for that, and if a company pays people they should get paid.

To anyone who doesn't think you should have to pay for software, I ask you, would you work on your job for free?

Charles Tilley
February 2, 2010 11:21 AM

When you buy a new computer, they normally have a "recovery partition". When you boot into this, all of your original programs will come back, including "bloatware". Some of this bloatware is good programs, some bad. When you do a recovery job, you'll be offered the same programs for the same time (you'll often have to re-register for it). I use disposable email addresses, that's what they're looking for. You paid for the computer, so don't feel guilty for reusing the programs. This applies to recovery reinstalls only. Getting software in other ways, sometimes you have to activate the program to use it. If you see a trial program that you like, but can't pay, download the program several times, but open them one at a time. Have several disposable email addresses on hand, as well as using variants of your name. For example, my name is catilley, the first two letters being my initals, the last six are my last name. Variate your name, for example, actilley, tilleyca, ctilleya, catilley, atilleyc. That's five variations right there. The same with emails and passwords. This is not illegal, as you can switch your legal name around all you want. If you have a laptop, going to a "hotspot" to obtain a different IP address helps, too. Even visiting a friend and using their connection (with permission) will help. By playing it smart, you can start over with a new "trial period" all you want. But if you really like the software, as soon as you can, purchase it. What I described above is a lot of inconvenience.

Schnazola
February 2, 2010 11:34 AM

Wow! The lack of moral clarity demonstrated by some of the comments to this article is astonishing. The sense of entitlement and the lack of respect for intellectual property and other people's ingenuity are as remarkable as they are disturbing.

Jack
February 2, 2010 11:50 AM

Ethics are dwindling! If you complain about the ethics of business or politics, remember, it all begins with just plain people like you and me.

Azrael
February 2, 2010 12:26 PM

"I'm sorry, this Toyota Prius is too expensive, you should sell it at half that price because I can't afford it" doesn't make sense ... why is software any different?

Leo, to make another car takes a lot of resources : materials , equipment and man hours. You know, a car is a physical thing. To make a new copy of a program costs exactly nothing. A program is just information - it doesn't exist by itself. At most it will cost the price of the support carrying it.

Azrael
February 2, 2010 12:28 PM

"To anyone who doesn't think you should have to pay for software, I ask you, would you work on your job for free?"
If nobody else is gaining money from my work, yes. It's called volunteer work and is good for your soul.

Fred
February 2, 2010 1:15 PM

This was a bait and switch question posted designed to get hits and an ethical flame war on paying for software started, Leo.
Also there is a huge difference in paying $20 to keep using a piece of software and $800 to keep using as with most expensive Adobe free trials.
I bet if it were $20 no one would bother trying to find ways to extend the trial and just pay it, even the poorest of people.
I think when people pay these huge amounts to software companies and hardly get to learn or use the software then find a newer version is out but the update requires another $495 or such, sure that is when people look for ways to extend free trials. It is a feeling of entitlement since the person might feel he or she never truly got their money's worth with the initial software purchase.

This has happened to me several times, I've paid thousands of dollars on software suites only to never get to learn or use them fully, then a year or two later when I am in need of the purchased software I find it no longer works because I upgraded my system to a newer OS and then again to 64bit. Each time these software companies want a huge sum of money on top of the huge initial investment just to keep the software functional on current systems. Upgrade prices are exuberant in my opinion.
But I suppose that is because companies figure they can keep making profits and milking these people who are trying to do the right thing and who pay for software.
Eventually these honest people run out of money and feel totally betrayed for their support in past. In using the stealing a car analogy, suppose you pay $20,000 for a car, park it in your driveway in case you ever need a ride but that the train to work every day. Then when you eventually go to drive it, you find it doesn't go very fast because while you weren't using it, they changed the roads or something and to get that car back to current speeds you need to pay say $15,000 now to upgrade its tires to the proper ones to drive on new roads.
But at same time they let you drive a new car for free trial, and you feel this is what you paid the original $20,000 to do to begin with, well in that case you might be inclined to keep the car they gave you to try free for 30 days and not return it to the lot.
That is more the proper analogy.
That is a problem the software industry I think created for themselves with high update prices to loyal paying customers.

Bill
February 2, 2010 1:21 PM

In response to Azrael's To make a new copy of a program costs exactly nothing. A program is just information - it doesn't exist by itself. At most it will cost the price of the support carrying it.
Well a car is a physical thing but it took physical computers, networks, offices, and staff to create the programs. Plus it took staff and the whole list to test the programs before they could sell it. They would also like to make a profit to buy more computers, networks, offices, and hire more staff to create even more programs that you don't want to pay for. I agree some programs are quite expensive so if people don't purchase it then they go out of business.

Tom
February 2, 2010 2:16 PM

Is anyone serious in their thinking that a program a company possibly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on to develop should be free?
If so, it only goes to prove that you cannot reason with an idiot!!

Brett
February 2, 2010 4:25 PM

I've read or scanned all the articles in this thread. Having been on the development teams for several shareware and retail software products I first am inclined to agree with the pay to play philosophy. Yes, I have seen how many human hour go into developing a well-designed, and well-supported, software product.

However, I think there are other economic issues involved that the online market does not address as well as the physical retail market. Producers of many physical products maximize profits over time by working through a price curve. Initial prices are high because early adopters are willing to pay more. A time passes, the price of the product is lowered to reach different segments of the market. This pricing curve is vanilla economics for most retail products. It enables a company to maximize profits by working down through demographic strata of disposable income. This doesn't really translate as well to non-physical products with a very short life, such as software. The whole selling curve is compressed and the pool of buyers is homogenized and hard to differentiate. So software producers don't have as much incentive to lower prices over time to reach different markets as much as say, producers of flat-screen TVs. On top of this, software producers that have little competition have very little incentive to reduce prices since that would do little but cut into their own profits.

My main point in this ramble is that this is more an issue of economics and marketing theory than some personal issue of consumers being mistreated. In bringing up this perspective, I don't pretend to have the answers but instead to encourage another perspective on the issue which I think more reflects the realities of the software market. Any economics/marketing professionals out there who want to weigh in with a more informed view from this perspective?

Pookey
February 3, 2010 5:45 AM

There is one piece of Software that I would pirate. I would Pirate Windows 7 ULTIMATE IF and ONLY IF I had purchased Windows Vista ULTIMATE. The reason for this is that the extra money paid was supposed to go towards Windows Ultimate Extras which never eventuated. If this happened in any physical product (i.e. a convection oven that has no convection as promised) then you would be entitled to a refund. In this instance, the refund is equivalent in value to the newer version of Ultimate.

jwmore
February 3, 2010 7:59 AM

This is in response to Brett's posting. I am not a marketing guru of any type, but I am a long-time software user, of all types. I am constantly looking to improve my system and all the peripheral software, and I am convinced that because the software industry (including the "BIG TWO", Microsoft and Apple) is a different type of commodity environment, it is easy to justify stealing from the little guy. This industry knows we need their products. For whatever reason (honest need, or computer junkie), we cannot do without the software to keep us in business and online, and most of try to do this in the most up-to-date manner. Again, the software industry knows this. We are hooked, for better or worse. Whenever I have to purchase a piece of software, I do so with the full knowledge that it is a needed expense. If I can find a way to minimize the cost of the software, I do so with a clear conscience. If I can find a way to get the needed software for free (however I can do it), I do this, also, with a clear conscience. This is called "adjusting to your environment", and it has worked for me for many years. I am running an HP Pavilion Elite that I only paid $400 for (new), and I am running Windows 7 Professional (full) that I only paid $30 for. My monitor is a Compaq W1907, and it cost $99. Most of my major software is beta, with the exception of Office Ultimate 2007 ($72). There are some of us out here in the virtual world who have learned how to deal with the economics of "COMPUTER" in a guerrilla fashion. I believe this is, for me, the only ethical - and economic - means to stay in the computer age. I do not lose any sleep over this position, at all.

Lee Nelson Guptill
February 24, 2010 10:50 AM

There are a whole lotta people out there who want something for nothing, and the quality of their life reflects that. They think that only their hard work deserves to be rewarded . . . but not anyone else's.

frisbee
April 15, 2010 3:36 PM

Who Would Not Want Anything For Free???

If You Are Given Something For Free You Dont Offer To Pay For It Do You? Just Take It!

Every Man For Himself In This Day And Age!

Theres Alot Of Greedy People These Days So Id Rather Join Them Than Be Ripped Off!!

So you'd rather be a theif than an honest person? I do feel sorry for you and folks like you.
Leo
17-Apr-2010

Richo
October 12, 2011 4:14 PM

How about this for a reason:
I want to trial a piece of image editing software (not photoshop). However another piece of photgraphic software that process RAW files is currently unreliable, and I am trying to decipher what combinations of alpha channels, compression settings an so on are contributing to the issue, or if it is buggy software.
I want to install a trial of the editing software, however there is a reasonable chance that I will not be able to test it because the dependent software won't feed it the right data. If I start the trial, I may never get a chance to determine if the software is suitable.
Effectively I don't want to risk blowing my one chance at trialling the software, in which casae I wouldn't be confident to buy it.
So I'm looking for a way to trial it that would alow me to trial it again in the future if I couldn't get it to work the first time.
If it all works fine, I'll buy it and everyone is happy.

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