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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Software Development - Provide evaluation copies of your software so that people can try it out without too much nagging

When you are in a market where there is a lot of competition, it makes sense to provide software so that people can try it out, use it for some time, and then decide whether they want to buy it or not. However, this whole process can have several variations:
- People could use the software without any problem, fully functional, and the software will give them a reminder as they get closer to the expiry time. This expiry time could be in terms of number of trial launches left, or number of days left.
- The software could provide a nag screen so that the user is reminded every time when the software is launched that they need to buy the software, or there are only so many days / tries left. This is meant so that the person is reminded that they have a trial; however, research shows that a majority of people buy the software only near the end (if it is a month, then most of the purchasing happens in the final week); so by showing a regular reminder, a number of users can get irritated.
- The software could have some features disabled if it is in trial mode. This is not so often recommended, since for the user, the experience is not fully functional, and if the features that are not enabled was something that they are looking for, they are going to look for the same in some other software. In that case, you would have probably lost such a customer. A variation of this is that a feature may be crippled in some other way. For example, a video editor in trial mode may only allow generation of clips that are less than a certain time period.
- Another way to provide lesser functionality is by adding some sort of text or warning to the produced content. This is typically used by demo versions of video and photo editors where something is to be produced by the user, which could be a slideshow, a video, and so on. In such cases where the version is not yet bought by the user, the produced content may have a text or something else to indicated the tool with which it was produced and the warning that this is a trial version.
Of course, there may be a combination of these which are used. These restrictions can end up being irritating to a section of users, but it is very important for organizations to do the balance between these restrictions and preventing users from using their software without buying it. Even further, such software are distributed to a number of sites which act like a repository where software of different types and categories are available; since many users go to such repositories, it is important for you to ensure that your software is available at such locations, and all the description of the features, the price, and the restrictions are all accurate. Such an accuracy ensures that reviewers are not going to be misled, and the chances of getting positive reviews is more (this of course depends on the capability of the software as well, but you should get all these other infrastructural issues right as well). 

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