What: Most retailers don’t have a “try-before-you-buy” policy. Taking the tags off a new purchase usually means it’s never going back to the store. But online, software programmers have found the free trial method, or “shareware,” to be the best way to get users interested in their products, and most savvy computer users would never buy software without trying it out first. Unfortunately, the method is easy to exploit, and many shareware programmers never get paid for their hard work. On Dec. 11, recognize the service of programmers on International Shareware Day.
Background: International Shareware Day was started by David Lawrence, an actor and the former host of two tech radio talk shows, “The David Lawrence Show” and “Online Tonight.” The day aims to recognize the innovative hard work of computer programmers everywhere who put their work out on the Internet with free software trials. This “try-before-you-buy” distribution method is user-friendly, but few programmers receive any payment for their software. Celebrated annually on the second Saturday in December, the day encourages software users to pay for the “free trial” programs that are fun, useful, or even vital to their everyday computing.
Story Pitch: Associations and groups representing independent software programmers can use International Shareware Day as a means to talk about the software development process and how programmers finance their work. Shareware is ultimately user-supported software, so programmers should make clear what benefits users can receive when they fully purchase their favorite software. Companies specializing in Internet security can educate computer users on how to recognize trustworthy software companies online, and what steps consumers should take when purchasing downloadable software. Charitable organizations can even promote their “careware,” purchasable software that sends profits to a charity, rather than a programmer or software company.
Story Hook: Terms like “shareware,” “demoware,” “freeware,” and “open-source” all refer to different software distribution methods, but not all computer users know the terms. What is the difference between them, and how do they help the average user? How can users avoid annoying or even risky software like adware and spyware? Consider the following as you make your pitch:
- How many programmers receive payment for their shareware? What gives users an incentive to pay for shareware programs?
- Modern software isn’t just found on PCs. How is shareware adapting to today’s users, including smartphone users, gamers, and families with multiple computers?
- Where can computer users find trustworthy and quality shareware?
- What are the advantages to using non-retail software? Is it better for certain uses?
Tips: Provide contact information for a programmer who can speak to why users should support software creators by fully purchasing shareware. A programmer whose user payments helped him develop a noteworthy piece of software can talk about the difference users made in its development.
Association of Software Professionals
Open Source Initiative
Organization of Independent Software Vendors
–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
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