Visit any computer store today and you will discover what seems like miles and miles of programs on sale. Certainly attractive buys, but you may encounter a few problems with buying software off the shelf. Off-the shelf programs – otherwise known as “commercial software” – may be expensive, not compatible and out of date when compared to what is downloadable online. Happily, there exists an alternative to commercial programs, and although it isn’t new, it is one of the most under-utilized opportunities in the computer industry. We are talking about shareware – programs that you can try before buying. And you can access it via the WWW, similar to accessing online PC support.Shareware possesses a long history and had been insanely well-liked during the days where BBSes – bulletin board systems – reigned over the Internet-based computer industry. Shareware hasn’t gone anywhere, but its competition from commercial software is fierce – so fierce that it seems to be pushed to the back burner with new PC users. This is unfortunate, because shareware has lots of advantages over commercial software.One of the advantages is its cost. On the whole, shareware is usually much less expensive compared to commercial programs. But don’t misunderstand the price. With shareware, cheap does not equal low-quality, because there exist plenty of cases which show shareware often outperforms the quality of commercial software time and time again. What kind of economy are we talking about? You could purchase an excellent word processor, spreadsheet or database program, or a system utility program anywhere from a mere $10 to about a hundred. This is practically unheard of in stores like Best Buy, Office Max or compUSA, yet the shareware available in this price range rival even MS Office.One other plus that shareware has in comparison with commercial programs is its compatibility. We’re not implying that shareware is suitable for all OSes. What we are saying is that since we can try shareware before buying it, we are able to decide first whether the program is fully suitable for our systems. In other words, we may discover if the software performs like we want it to, and should anyone try to do the same with commercial software, they will experience a big shock. Commercial software policy doesn’t even permit returns, not to mention using a friend’s programs to experiment with them. The last plus which shareware has over commercial programs (but by no means the least) is its “freshness”. Plain and simple, shareware comes out far ahead when you need to keep on top of the most recent edition of a given program. Sure, computer stores try hard to keep their stock up-to-date, but if you are able to download the most recent edition 5.7062 of a shareware program as opposed to buying a commercial 3.0 version from a nearby computer shop, there is simply no equal.brings us to the following topic. Just how does a person get shareware? It is all over the Internet and it is really hard not to locate it. The most popular locations to find shareware is at thousands of download libraries, however, the companies (and even individual developers) producing shareware are increasingly providing shareware from their own websites. A quick search at Google or Bing for a particular type of program will yield all kinds of answers that point you toward things that you can try before you shell out any money.Be aware, though, that since shareware isn’t commercial programs, you may not experience the full-featured program in the way you would if you purchased the software out of a box. Shareware may or may not be limited – which means that some functions may not be accessible to you unless the program is purchased. These limits are often small and do not interfere with the way its paid-for version operates. They are really implemented just as a method to prompt payment. Remember that shareware is not free. You mustn’t try to use shareware as a commercial software package without purchasing it.About the only thing that is similar between shareware and commercial programs is the manner in which they may be paid for. With a credit card, you could be the next owner of another application within minutes. Even without a credit card, you will be able to actually receive online PC support, yes, over the WWW!Best regards,Bob Hosken”Dr. Bob the CompuNerd”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Robert Hosken, the author, has accumulated over 30 years of career work with computers. Starting in his teens he has established and headed a number of profitable firms and non-profit organizations. You can get his free e-Book “How To Maintain Your Computer” and learn the most efficient ways to work with your personal computer at online PC support, see his homepage, or email him at Robert@CompuNerds.Net – see you there!