Shareware - your questions answered.

What is Shareware?

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 them.

What happens if I like a shareware program?

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. This is usually referred to as 'registering' the shareware.

Why should I pay for and register a shareware program?

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.

How do shareware programs compare with other kinds of software?

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.

What do I receive when I pay for a shareware program, besides the use of the program?

Typically, the same things you receive when you pay for other software:support by telephone, fax, computer bulletin board, and/or through online services such as America Online, CompuServe, and Microsoft Network. 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.

What happens if I don't like a shareware program?

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.

How can I learn more about specific shareware programs?

Try different programs! The beauty of shareware is that you can actually test a program's features before paying for it.

Does using shareware increase the chances of introducing a virus into my computer?

The shareware industry has an excellent track record in providing products that have been checked thoroughly for viruses. Shareware authors, bulletin board and online service operators, as well as disk vendors, carefully scan programs for viruses before offering them to consumers.

In fact, there have been many cases of viruses spread through shrink-wrapped software purchased in stores. So downloading a shareware program from a BBS(bulletin board system) or online service is probably safer than buying a disk in a store.

Where can I find shareware?

Shareware can be found on BBSes, online services such as America Online, CompuServe, Microsoft Network and the Internets. In addition there are many Cd roms full of shareware available at retail stores, and many shareware programs appear on the free Cd's given away with computer magazines. But remember, if you buy a Shareware Cd rom you are paying for the disc only - if you want to continue to use the programs you should register them with the author.

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