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Super Shareware
It Pays to Pay





Graphics / Multimedia


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It Pays to Pay


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Stealing is wrong. That's one of the most obvious reasons you should pay for shareware if you intend to use it. Here are a few of the more pragmatic ones:

You'll get an ear. With shareware you usually deal directly with the author, so registering your shareware may gain the author's ear if you need help. Or, if there's a feature you'd like to see added, you can ask the author to include it in the next version. Try doing that with off-the-shelf software. You can even be included as beta tester on the next version.

You'll get free stuff. Registering your software also puts you on the list for free upgrades, which you can often download from the Web.

You'll get what you pay for. Once you register your software you have a right to expect everything that's listed on the registration form. The Association of Shareware Professionals (ASP), a not-for-profit corporation with about 1,000 members, requires its members to produce software that's reasonably bug-free, nontrivial and fully capable of being evaluated. This means it's not demoware, which often gives you the look and feel of the product but excludes features you need to use it. For instance, you won't get fonts without vowels or word processors that won't save files. Members also steer clear of crippleware, which times out if you don't register it by the expiration date. This, says the ASP, may encourage the user to skip this package in favor of another. You can, however, get a product that prints words to the effect that it's an evaluation copy across the bottom of a page. Shareware authors find this increases their registration results tremendously. You're also not spared from nagware, which displays constant reminders to register whenever you open the app.

You'll have someone to complain to. The ASP retains an ombudsman to intercede on your behalf should you have any problems. Contact information for the ombudsman must accompany the software ASP members publish. The organization says it receives a couple of complaints a week, and ends up booting out about one or two members a year as a result.

How do you know if a shareware author is an ASP member? It's often difficult to tell because search engines tend to ignore this information. But authors will usually declare their ASP affiliation in their product's descriptive material. If you see it, it's a good sign that author is doing this as more than just a hobby, because ASP members must pay dues. -Nancy A. Lang

Windows Magazine, September 1997, page 200.

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