Definition of shareware
Shareware distribution gives users a chance to try software
before buying it. If you try a Shareware program and continue
using it after a reasonable evaluation period, you are expected
to register. Individual programs differ on details -- some
request registration while others require it, some specify a
maximum trial period. With registration, you get anything from
the simple right to continue using the software to an updated
program with printed manual.
Copyright laws apply to both Shareware and commercial software,
and the copyright holder retains all rights, with a few specific
exceptions as stated below. 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 author specifically grants the right to copy
and distribute the software, either to all and sundry or to a
specific group. For example, some authors require written
permission before a commercial disk vendor may copy their
Shareware is a distribution method, not a type of software. You
should find software that suits your needs and pocketbook,
whether it is commercial or Shareware. The Shareware system 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.
Some related terms
Freeware - copyrighted software that the author allows you to
freely use and distribute without paying any registration fee.
Demoware - the shareware concept has become so popular with the
growth of the Internet that many of the large commercial software
publishers are releasing "trial" versions of their products for download
and personal use. These "trial" versions are usually limited in some
fashion (such as they only work for a specified length of time, or
some features are disabled).
Crippleware - shareware or demoware that is functional enough for
you to evaluate most features, but disabled in a
significant way to entice you to register or buy the full version.
Nagware - shareware or demoware that frequently displays
screens to remind you to purchase the fully registered version. Apart from the
extra key strokes required to cancel the reminder screen, it is usually fully functional.
Contacting the ASP ombudsman
How to get technical support
User survey and general feedback/comment form.
Other shareware links