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    Definition of shareware

    ASP Logo 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.

    STAR Logo 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.

    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.

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