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What Turns You Off About Evaluation Software? 699

An Anonymous Coward asks: "I work at a mid-tier software company (which shall remain nameless, lest I draw attention to myself). Recently we have started making 30 day evaluation versions of our software available for download after prospects register. An email containing a username and password is sent to the registrant a few hours after submission. We have been surprised to find that not a few registrants don't actually go on to download the software. We make the file size and system requirements clear up front. I would guess some slashdot readers get involved in evaluations. What process do you go through? Why might you stop short of actually downloading the software?"
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What Turns You Off About Evaluation Software?

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  • by reptilian biotech ( 237193 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:44PM (#3369916)
    If it wants a valid email addy, I forget it and find something else. say no to spam
    • by TedCheshireAcad ( 311748 ) <ted@f[ ] ['c.r' in gap]> on Thursday April 18, 2002 @09:04PM (#3370028) Homepage
      If I am going to use commercial software, it means I gave up trying to find a similar product under the GPL. I have only come across this problem in several instances, all times when I needed something for a Windows network.

      How to turn customers off:
      1. Make them enter an e-mail address.
      2. Make them fill out a form. See 1.
      3. Make them wait for registration info.
      4. Use a 30 day limit. 90 sounds better.
      5. Make them do all that crap for software they didn't need or like anyhow.
      6. Have you sales staff hound them nonstop by phone and e-mail and personal visits. (Will you folks at StorageSoft get the point?)

      How to turn customers on:
      1. 90 day or unlimited trial only with the stupid features turned off.
      2. No registration crap.
      3. Precise product description, no lies.
      4. Screenshots, my god, screenshots.
      5. Multiple fast download sites. I should be able to get 150k/sec at least.
      6. No hunting for downloadable files. This goes for you too, Real.
      7. Upfront licensing policies and prices. Tell me on your website how much I have to pay for 1, 10, or a site license.
      8. I will call you if I want to buy it. Don't feel free to bother me during my lunch hour. Your voicemails get deleted, too.
      9. If you must have my e-mail address, remember this: My inbox is a sacred shrine, none shall enter that are not worthy.

      -my $.02

      • by IpSo_ ( 21711 )
        No, do not disable functionality in a piece of _evaluation_ software. I spent the time downloading it and setting it up to test all its features, not just a small percentage of them!

        Car dealerships don't have demo vehicles with only three wheels, and offer you the fourth wheel once you make the purchase do they?

        As well, when the trial period ends, do not cripple the program, especially if it gets installed on a server. The last thing I want is my phone ringing off the hook with angry users complaining a service isn't available because the trial period ran out and the program killed itself. Send reminders, maybe even put a delay at startup with a message or something, but please don't make the software self-destruct itself. If I'm serious about evaluating a piece of software, I want to put it to good use, in a semi-real enviroment.
        • by DahGhostfacedFiddlah ( 470393 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @10:01PM (#3370325)
          Ummm....then how is it different then the full version? Evaluation software is supposed to be used for *evaluation*. Not for five-nines critical applications. On a server the popup messages will go unnoticed, and the startup sequence will appear almost never. If you want to use it longer, then maybe it's time you paid for it.
          • by Kynde ( 324134 )
            Ummm....then how is it different then the full version? Evaluation software is supposed to be used for *evaluation*. Not for five-nines critical applications. On a server the popup messages will go unnoticed, and the startup sequence will appear almost never. If you want to use it longer, then maybe it's time you paid for it.

            Should be obvious that for companies paying the $20-200 for a software that's beneficial/useful is _NOTHING_. Besides companies really cant have afford to get busted for piracy in a software audit. Naturally this does not include countries were piracy is as illegal as spitting on the ground (and this inturn does no include Singapore :)).

            Nonetheless the point is that a majority of the people at home downloading evaluation versions wouldnt purchase them anyway, where as companies would/could, given that the evaluation version was tolerabel and the prices and the works were layd out upfront.

            Some evaluation version sellers tend to use so annoying strategies that I'm really amazed that how on earth will they ever actually sell anything.

            Take Real for example. I for one would never ever purchase anything from them...
          • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @06:54AM (#3372389) Homepage
            In a windows network broadcast a message to the default domain/workgroup saying "Pay your bill or you are violating your license agreement.". This is a three liner.

            Do it periodically. Every 10 mins.

            Does the job quite nicely.
        • by cwikla ( 557137 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @01:24AM (#3371307)
          I personally think that evaluation periods should be mandatory. I write software, and I've bought software, and there is nothing worse than picking up a piece of software and then finding it so bug-ridden or unuseful for your situation that you've just blown tens or hundreds of bucks. The evaluation help both sides, you get to try my software, and I get to expose you to my software that I hope you buy. However, once the evaluation period is done, too bad, buy the software or find something else. If it's that useful for you then I don't know why a 30 day period wouldn't be plenty (heck, I give 45) for you to make a decision. As a software author I WANT your phone ringing off the hook -- apparantly it's the incentive you need to get around to paying me for my software that obviously benefits you or your company.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 18, 2002 @09:31PM (#3370176)

        How to turn customers on:
        1. 90 day or unlimited trial only with the stupid features turned off.

        In other words, pretty much give it away for free. (90 days apart to uninstall/reinstall or in some cases reformat is not much of a pain in the ass.) Not that this surprises me coming from Slashdot, News for People Who Don't Want To Pay.

        2. No registration crap.

        If you're serious about trying out the software and would seriously consider purchasing it, giving them an e-mail so a representative can contact you for support makes sense. Not really for like winzip, but if you're downloading a trial of a professional software package it's more professional, in my opinion, if after downloading it you get an e-mail from Bob Soandso and his phone number if you have any questions about how to use the software, etc.
        • by cropserion ( 141726 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @10:07PM (#3370349)
          2. No registration crap.

          If you're serious about trying out the software and would seriously consider purchasing it, giving them an e-mail so a representative can contact you for support makes sense. Not really for like winzip, but if you're downloading a trial of a professional software package it's more professional, in my opinion, if after downloading it you get an e-mail from Bob Soandso and his phone number if you have any questions about how to use the software, etc.

          I have to agree with the AC on this one, if you are really trying a piece of software then you should enter an email addr.

          Personally I have my own domain and all emails sent to that domain goto the one mailbox by default, so when filling out a web form I will always use a different_name@mydomain for the name portion of the address. I always try to use a name similar to the company who want my address, for instance I would use redhat@mydomain when filling out a form on the redhat site.
          Then if I find that I am receiving alot of spam to a particular address I will then block all mails to that address in sendmail. I also try to find the sales and support email address of the company who sold my address to the spammers and I will sign up their address for newsletters from some of the sickest porn sites I can find.

          I guess for most people this isn't an option but it works for me :)
          • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @06:43AM (#3372346) Homepage
            sorry, but at work we have a download that is only available after filling out a contact form.. OVER 50% of the email adresses are fake. so this makes this information collection system worthless and useless.

            If you are catering to a technically savvy user, you will never get a useable email address on your download form... let alone any other useful information.. I personally fill things out with all bogus info and u
            se a disposable email addy. and It is a practive I reccomend to everyone here at work also..

            #1- get rid of any forms to fill out . they are a waset of your time and drives away customers.

            #2 - IF you get a real email address. delete ALL customer information when the customer asks to have your sales department to stop harassing them. There are 2 electronic CAD companies I have twice asked to stop emailling me. I had to resort to writing a script that takes every email I recieve from them and send out 10 copies to assorted email addresses in the company with STOP SENDING THIS TO ME auto added to the top. I finally had to contact the CEO with a letter explaining that I wil make sure that noone I know will ever buy their products because of their sales department for the emails to stop.

            finally.. Dont you dare sell that contact information. Only the scummiest companies sell their user database... do you want to be a part of that? I made sure my company isnt. and I make sure to tell the boss that his bright idea of forcing contact info to be entered was a dumb idea and is only wasting everyone's time... mentioning this at meetings is a great way to remove such silly things.
          • I've been using the potential_spammer@my.domain trick for years (pretty extensive /etc/aliases file.. don't forget to put in a comment to help remember where the address came from!).

            To nuke an address, just delete the alias. The problem is that the spammers still try to send to the address (once on the list seems to mean forever on the list). Even though the mail never gets to your inbox, it's still using your bandwidth.. actually double because of the bounce message.

            Anyone out there have a hack for sendmail that will simply blackhole mail bound for a given address? Just drop the connection when the offending RCPT command is received?
            • by plover ( 150551 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @11:52AM (#3373905) Homepage Journal
              If not, but you take it upon yourself to write one, there's even a better hack approach to take. Modify sendmail to 'tarpit' the spammers.

              Once the RCPT TO: <certain_spammer@my.domain> identifies an inbound-but-unwanted letter, rather than have it drop the connection, have it S...L...O...W - I...T...S...E...L...F - D...O...W...N. Spam works because they can send thousands out easily. They still have to establish thousands of connections. Make any appreciable percent of those difficult, and spam will not work as well.

              This might not work so well with true $$MAKE_MONEY_FAST$$ spam, but it should work for those companies who refuse to stop sending you email. They're usually more clueless than you might expect.

        • by hendridm ( 302246 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @10:41PM (#3370502) Homepage
          > If you're serious about trying out the software and would seriously consider purchasing it, giving them an e-mail so a representative can contact you for support makes sense.

          No, it doesn't. If I'm looking for a solution, I might try a ton of demos until I find the right one. I don't want to be hounded by all of the ones I discounted as crap.

          It's like shopping at JC Penney or Sears and the salespeople hound you EVERY 3 MINUTES. Thanks, but I already know how to shop and you just turned me off to your store.

          Here's a shocking idea - How about if I need help I'll ask?
          • Here's a shocking idea - How about if I need help I'll ask?
            Agreed. Another good idea, at least if you're interested in my business, is to make your contact info easy to find. Give me a phone number for crying out loud! Answer your email! Anything! It amazes me sometimes how hard it is to find contact information for a company I might want to do business with.

            It must be that some companies don't want to see their 1-800 phone lines abused in the same way that they abuse their customers email addresses.


          • You wanna know WHY they ask you if you want help every three minutes? It has nothing to do with your prior refusal to accept their help, or anything to do with actually helping you.

            Their loss prevention staff has them offering you help so that you don't steal stuff. It reduces theft greatly to have everyone feel "noticed." And if you're not buying, you'll feel compelled to leave.

            Apparently, they lose more in theft than they do in pissed-off customers who walk out.

        • by Zapman ( 2662 )

          [poster1 said:]

          1. 90 day or unlimited trial only with the stupid features turned off.

          [poster2 replied:]

          In other words, pretty much give it away for free. (90 days apart to uninstall/reinstall or in some cases reformat is not much of a pain in the ass.)

          Better: In your registration code, encode the start and end dates of the evaluation. Encrypt and obfuscate it to the far-thee-well, and have done.

          If someone's willing to keep the dates on they're computer out of sync, you'll not get money out of them anyway (since they're too small of a shop (or home) for you to bother with.

          Though I must strongly agree with the poster who suggested sending email warnings about licenses expiring. Veritas NetBackup does the encode the date thing. We had paid for it, and I thought that I had put the keys in correctly. However, it just quit on me. Something one does NOT want to see in their enterprise backup solution...

        • "In other words, pretty much give it away for free. (90 days apart to uninstall/reinstall or in some cases reformat is not much of a pain in the ass.) Not that this surprises me coming from Slashdot, News for People Who Don't Want To Pay."

          I am a student with not too much money. I try to get freeware or Free (as in speech) software as much as possible (but of course you know how piracy is on university campuses for the commercial software that they use in the labs.)

          The only pieces of software that I have paid money for (online) are the following:
          - Turbo Navigator - US$10 - It is an excellent Norton Commander clone for win32- The Official Page [] is acting funny so check this Unofficial Page [] if you want.
          - Query-Web [] - US$9.95 - A highly unique program that uses SQL in combination with HTML/XML to generate pages dynamically from MS Access databases. It is how Webattack [] is generated.

          When I get into my job this summer I will have money again and probably pay for Trillian [] and donate to the Ogg Vorbis Project [] as well.

          The things that these progs have in common are that I could have gotten it all legally for free anyway; There were no time limitations, nag screens or improved functionality promises for those who pay. I paid because the programmers did an excellent job of making a program that was useful to me and requested reasonable payment for it. Paying because the software will otherwise commit suicidce after 30 (90, whatever) days is not IMHO a good reason.

          Going through my old credit card bills that's it for internet purchases of software but that does not include stuff like domain registration and buying computer equipment online. The things listed here are of course totally separate from the stuff bought in brick&mortar stores.

        • 90 day or unlimited trial only...In other words, pretty much give it away for free. (90 days apart to uninstall/reinstall or in some cases reformat is not much of a pain in the ass.) Not that this surprises me coming from Slashdot, News for People Who Don't Want To Pay.

          Thanks for assuming we're all thieves. Do you work for the RIAA?

          I've run into 30 day limits all too often while evaluating products for professional use. I'll evaluate the product for a day or two, then get swamped with real work for a few weeks. I finally get back to evaluating the software and discover that I've only got a few days to examine it. This is frustrating for many programs and effectively negates the value of the evaluation for programs you need to use pervasively for a few weeks to try (development environments are a good example). Sure, I can usually request an additional key to unlock it for another 30 days, but that's frustrating. Free Sales Tip: Don't frustrate potential customers.

          This isn't the case for personal software, but for professional software you don't need to worry constantly about pirated use. Companies using software can afford to pay for it. They certainly can't afford the risk of getting caught. Put in nags and give long demo periods.

          (One improvement that I've seen several products use is to limit you to 30 days of use. So if I get interrupted for a few weeks in the middle, I'll still have a few weeks to examine the software.)

          ...if you're downloading a trial of a professional software package it's more professional, in my opinion, if after downloading it you get an e-mail from Bob Soandso and his phone number if you have any questions about how to use the software, etc.

          My experience with professional software development packages is that I often end up on the offering companies bulk email advertising lists. I had this experience five years ago (Rational), I had this experience three years ago (Several dongle manufacturers), and I had this experience last year (several ActiveX control suppliers). The "best" I've ever gotten is a clear form letter with my name stuck into it. Gee, real professional. Getting this junk email really lowers my opinion of the senders. Unfortunately, I'm often forced to report, "Product X is really good, but their sales people are rude and spammed me." Management orders the product and the stupid sales people are left with the impression that their nasty tactics worked. Grrr.

          Anyway, as a result I'm very hesitant to check out professional software. If I need to evaluate the software ("Culd you evaluate memory leak detection tools and tell me which one to buy for the team I'll do it."), I'll enter my email address with a warning attached. (" DO NOT CONTACT ME"). If it's personal investigation, ("Hey, this product might help me with my work"), I'll generally pass unless there is a clear, english promise to not spam me. If you insist on an email address, you migh lose me as a potential customer.

          • by Sircus ( 16869 )
            As a shareware author, I can pretty safely assert that most people *are* thieves. I'm sorry that the occasional customer might find the 30 day timeout on my company's software annoying, but if it weren't there, even more people would just keep using the software without ever paying. We fairly often get support requests from people using cracked versions of our software - not directly relevant to the discussion, but an indicator of the kind of depths people will stoop to.
        • I wouldn't say it's so much people who don't want to pay although there are a few who abuse that. I fully support commercial software as well as free (as in speech) software... As long as it's not crap. Which is why these trial versions are cool.

          30 days is hardly ever enough to fully evaluate a software package. When I evaluate software at work, I can install it, but evaluating that software package is not my sole responsibility for the next 30 days. I may not actually get around to working with the product for a while. I mean actually sitting down with it and running through the tutorials is a lot different than clicking pretty buttons for a few minutes. To fully evaluate it, you must actually use it in it's intended environment or else how would you know it would actually fit. Then, after it's been fully evaluated and it's decided that it is the tool for the job, my company or contract is legally obligated to purchase a license to actually use it in support of the project, otherwise it must be uninstalled. Which is fine by me cause it's no skin off my wallet.

          At home it's a little different. I don't have any corporate dollars purchasing software for me so my views are changed slightly. I still support commercial software. But I only register when it makes sense. For instance, I use WinZip when I'm in Windows like it's another extention to my body. It was well worth the $$ I sent them to register it. (Even the extra $50 for the self extractor that I hardly ever use) And I registered every trial version I use regularly when the $$ <= benefits. I havn't registered my trial version of Paint Shop Pro and I probably won't any time soon. Not because I don't like it but because it's not worth the $$ for what I use it for. I think I used it once or twice about a year or so ago to make a pretty widget for my personal web page. It did the job but I don't make money off my web page and what I used it for I couldn't justify the $100 or so for what I got out of it. If I actually start making money off my website (ie. some small business of some sort) I will not hesitate to register it because I will be using it more and profiting from its output. (although I may just keep using Gimp. :-) Point is, if I registered every crappy piece of software that I used once and forgot about, I'd be in the poor house. Some of these registration fees are pretty outragious for what you get.

          Then there is the professional software for home hobbiests. Even the student price for MS Visual Studio was outragious on a "thank you come again" wage while I was in college... but then, since I'm out of college and making money, I've got a legal copy of that now too. :-)

          God no I'm not giving my email address to these software companies until I actually register something. When I'm looking for a tool for some job, I do a search and may evaluate software from 5-15 different companies. I don't have the time to sit and read each of their privacy policies to see wether or not I'll start getting spam from them or one of their business partners or email list customers. There is no reason anyone needs my email address for me to evaluate something. If they require it, I move on to something else.

      • the Hyporicy! (Score:2, Interesting)

        by GePS ( 543386 )
        it just may be true that all the ranting and raving about submitting e-mails is a little hypocritical.

        that is: how many of you received their username and password for Slashdot in their e-mail? :)
      • by rainwalker ( 174354 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @10:09PM (#3370360)
        IMHO there is nothing worse then looking for some software to fix a problem I have, then being FORCED to sit around and wait several hours for the username/password to be emailed to me, just to find out if it works for me or not. Usually by the time the username/password gets to me, I have dropped by astalavista and snagged a crack or registered user/pass, just so I don't have to waste my time.

        Does this mean that I have tons of pirated/cracked software on my computers? No, because if it works for me, I will abide by the licensing conditions set forth by the authors. I don't have enough time to waste it waiting for an email. When looking at Win32 X-servers, it took the people who make X-Win32 4 days to get me that password. I had long sincehit up astalavista for a crack and google for a download. And then the spam starts rolling in...(sigh)
        • Perhaps at the time there wasn't a decent Open source X server, but there is a very nice one with Cygwin. However, for myself I've found that stealthing VNC and X ports with firewall rules, and using VNC to be preferable, to running an X server all the time. Obviously you'll need a local X server to get DVDs or mpeg-4 files to play, but you can't do that over the network anyways. It's easier if you configure an X server for movie viewing if needed (or to use a windows box).
      • What's most annoying is crippleware where you spend time downloading something only to find you can't print - or something equally as stupid!
      • 90 days of uncrippled software is way too much for a company to give. Most people will just reinstall after 90 days or something like that, not just because they're cheap, but also because they're too lazy to get the real thing.

        Rather, limit it to 30 days, but 30 REAL days. I might have downloaded your software and find that I have no time to evaluate it now. If by the time I evaluate it I only get a week before it expires, it's unlikely I will be convinced.

        I don't plan my life around testing and buying someone else's software. Days I didn't use the product should not count. Make only the days the product was used count, or limit it by number of uses as some products do: but if you do, make them cheap and assume more than one use per day (90-120 uses) because, once more, users don't plan their lives around your product.

        Those who do plan their lives around trying your product will probably pirate or crack it. Most people are not profoundly ethical, they don't buy software out of legal duty, they buy software out of convenience.

        If you make it more convenient for them to crack your software than evaluating it, they will do that. Same goes for the buying process. That's why registration sucks.

        I hate crippled software, the sole mention of "all features enabled on the commercial version" will send me to the competitors webpage. I prefer not having a feature than having that button mocking me all day, because I know I WILL need that feature, by Murphy's Law.

        But if you're going to cripple, please do not cripple essential things, like printing, saving, exporting, etc!

        For example: If I'm evaluating a Visio-like program, part of the evaluation is comparing the result on paper with the usual alternative, and comparing other people's reaction to that product on paper. I need to work on something sufficiently large or complex that I won't do it all at once, or I might to see whether many people can work on a document more easily than with the other product, which implies saving and exchanging files. I need to see whether the files can be exported to other formats I work with, and that the exported files work.

    • Simple. Don't ask people to register for downloading software.

      That is your problem right there. Put it on an FTP site and link to that from youir web site.

      The registration process should be for paying customers with a permanent license and even then just optional.

      Some people buy software with cash and never register. Deal with it.

      That's it. Don't try to track who downloads your software. That's how you get people to actualy download your software. If they like it they will either pay the registration fee or seak out the crack.

      I guess you could try making the latter more dificult.
    • The problem is that users expect to get spam anyplace where they give a real email address. I know that I always try using a bogus email address (usually "") and only put in a real one if I have to. I also have a dedicated "for forms" email address where I can check to see how honest companies are. Several prominent companies who provide "never send me email" boxes to check off send you email anyway, hence my mistrust. It sucks for the honest companies, but I simply don't trust forms that want an email address. Promises about not sending email are broken; promises about not selling email addresses are lies. I'm probably a little more jaded than most, so it may help to state plainly that you will never send unsolicited email, and that you will never sell email addresses. The plainer you make it, the more likely I am to believe it. Conversely, the more it's wrapped in legalese, the less likely I am to believe it.
    • The other thing is many places also want you to do is fill out a user profile including marketing information as home address, phone number, business name, number of employees you have, position etc. That stuff is a sure fire flag I'll probably be receiving follow up calls, letters, e-mail etc. Many sites will not give the price unless you put it in your cart. Being one step away from buying it to answer these simple questions keeps me from trying much software. I don't want on another marketing list. I was only there to find out what the software is able to do for me and at what price. If it's a secret (no info/no DL), then I'll move on to find something that will do what I need. If all the bits and pieces in Windows were priced as most shareware, it would cost as much as my car. Some people write a snip of code that is as great the hard drive cleanup utility in Windows and try to price the piece at close to the same price as Windows. Much of the small programs just don't have the percieved value. An example is a Label program I saw on the shelf priced at about $80 US. How is the price justified when label templates are included in most word processor software? For barcodes, I use a $15 label program called Labels Unlimited purchased off the productivity software rack at the local office supply store. Nothing in shareware has it's features and all shareware I have seen that can do limited barcodes has a much higher price.
    • by NerdSlayer ( 300907 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @09:33PM (#3370189) Homepage
      If it wants a valid email addy, I forget it and find something else. say no to spam

      Everyone here seems to poo-poo the email giving registration process in fear of spam. How hard is it to sign up for a junk excite or hotmail account and use it anytime you need to register something shady? Am I the only person who can figure this out?

      What's worse, you're possibly missing out on a great product because they're asking for you email? I think that's a little short-sighted. Just because RMS didn't bless it with his magic GPL wand doesn't necessarily mean it sucks. Sometimes programmers have to eat, too.
  • A few hours? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AllDewedUp ( 20540 ) <chris.grau@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:44PM (#3369921)
    If I had to wait a few hours to get my user/pass just to download the software, I'd probably either forget or move on.
    • Re:A few hours? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Doppler00 ( 534739 )
      Most people using the internet have an attention span of about 1.3 seconds (my own estimate). If your server can't generate e-mails with passwords fast enough people will simply look elsewhere for the software they are looking for. I think the goal should be to make the demo as easy to download as possible, but then have it stop working after 30 days. Or even just disable the "save" or "print" features. If people find it useful enough, they will probably purchase it (for comercial use).
      • I read a study somewhere that the actual attention span is 7 seconds. If a person does not get the website to come up within 7 seconds they will close it.
        • Re:A few hours? (Score:2, Interesting)

          Time to "close" a search is very different from attention span. For a particular connection speed, a reasonable heuristic might be that if a site hasn't loaded in 7 seconds, it's not going to load at all. So somebody who has an attention span of, say, 30 sec, they might "give up" on a site long before that's expired.

          So I think attention span in this situation is somewhat different. If you can reasonably expect an eventual payoff (e.g., getting your software demo), you're probably willing to wait longer than if you have reason to believe that your efforts will eventually be fruitless.

          That said, I'd never download a demo if it didn't offer immediate gratification as one of it's features...
    • I agree. Generally though I don't forget, I typically find something that suits my needs in the time that I'm waiting.

      If I'm looking for software to solve a problem, I'm generally looking to solve it and move on and get back to work as quick as I can. Sadly, as weird as it sounds, I can't concentrate on any one task long enough for it to make sense for me to wait hours to get something installed. I think the problem through, solve and move on - and generally forget all the nuances I just thought through. I don't want to have to do my random walk down the problem solving tree all over again when I'm finally allowed to install the software that might or might not be the solution.
    • I'll agree to this-- if it takes a few hours, you might as well not even bother.

      Even if I go to all the trouble to register by carefully crafting a one-time-use E-mail address to deter spam [] it can sometimes take a couple hours for the E-mail to wind its way through both Sneakemail and Yahoo's E-mail systems to arrive at my mailbox. This is even if it's sent right away, which from the message, it would seem that it's not.

      By the time it arrives it has to compete with all the other "From: Account Services Subject: Your recent order" spam that builds up in there. There's about a 90% chance it will get deleted unread.

      Even assuming that I actually read your E-mail, there's a big chance that right after I surfed through your site I went on to another site offering similar products. Guess what, if they had an immediate download I liked, your mail is going to get deleted. Hey, at least I read it!

    • By the time the mail reaches the prospective tester he probably forgot about entering the information, changed his priorities or just hasn't got any time at the moment so he lost interest. He will probably not even register that the mail has anything to do with his surfing the web a few hours or even a day before and just regard it as another spam among 10 or 20 others.

      If you want to reach someone who is just curious but has no actual need for the software, then the mail must go out seconds after registration (hey, consider yourself lucky some folks went through the tedious registration process, "tedious" starts when the keyboard comes into play, so the left hand must put down the coffee cup). Most users will enter their address, twiddle their thumbs for a second, look for new mail, take a sip of coffee, look again, and then forget about it if nothing arrived.
    • Re:A few hours? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by spongman ( 182339 )

      And the solution is to allow them to start downloading the software immediately, and send them an activation key in the email that they enter directly into the software post-installation.

      The resoning is that by the time they're done downloading and installing your software, the email will have arrived. And if it hasn't then they'll still be more inclined to wait a bit longer since they've already gone through the effort of installing it.

      However, if you can, send the key immediately, or at least send a confirmation mail to let them know that it's on its way.

  • by Inode Jones ( 1598 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:46PM (#3369934) Homepage
    You don't mention what your registration flow is.

    Typically, in my industry, anyone downloading evaluation software or even documentation must click-through a EULA. At what point, if any, in your register/download process do you do this?

    If you take the email registration info before presenting the EULA, then you could be losing people there.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      If you take the email registration info before presenting the EULA, then you could be losing people there.

      Maybe you're supposed to read the EULA during the few hours they take to process your request. i.e. "According to our estimates, reading this EULA should take 3h52min. Your registration key will be waiting for you when you're done reading."
  • by snStarter ( 212765 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:48PM (#3369944)
    Once I start giving information for a demo or evaluation download I know I'm going to get tagged by the infernal sales dept who will write/call/FAX and make my life miserable. Maybe sell my e-mail to other prospects. So sometimes I just get to the point and think "is it really worth it?"

    And often the answer is "NO".
  • by RN ( 21554 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:48PM (#3369946) Journal
    Registration is the main turn off, at least to me. It's just annoying that you have to give your info to some nameless company just for the privilege to evaluate their software. By the time you get validated, it just takes too long and is too much of a hassle to bother actually downloading it.

    If the software is that great, you should just let people download it, no need to have people jump thru hoops. When you get free samples at the supermarket, they don't ask you for your name and address.

    • I experienced this just recently, as I had to [quickly] get a commandline win32 pkunzip. So I went to pkware []... where they wanted me to register. Um.. don't think so.

      So I turn to Google, and in a few seconds I have found a place where I can just grab the archive, no questions asked.

      You want me to try your product? Just put the gawd damned archive up for download. Don't ask me questions. Don't try to email me "download instructions". I don't need instructions, I just need a clean link to the download (don't use javascript or buggy redirection CGIs either).

    • If you really must insist on collecting the customer's email address / contact info... Don't ask for it up front. Let them download and start using the software, then after some period of time (1 hour? 1 day?), pop up the registration form and ask them to fill it out to continue using the software... This way you won't deter casual downloaders who don't want to make a huge committment by giving you their info, but you will collect info from people who actually end up using your software for a while...
  • Latency! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonWyatt ( 62035 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:48PM (#3369948) Homepage
    An email containing a username and password is sent to the registrant a few hours after submission...

    Why might you stop short of actually downloading the software?

    The very nature of getting a free eval download revolves around the impulsive nature of the user/customer. Make 'em wait a few hours and you've removed your advantage.
  • the wait.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pfhreakaz0id ( 82141 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:48PM (#3369950)
    In the words of Veruka, "but I want it NOW!"...

    If the link/password/whatever hasn't hit my inbox in a minute or two, I'm probably moving on looking for another thing to try. Welcome to the short attention span decade.
  • by stubear ( 130454 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:49PM (#3369953)
    Unless I really need the software I avoid registration processes such as those that you require. I do not like to give out personal informaiton, including e-mail addresses, just evaluate software. Not only am I concerned about spam, I abhor receiving e-mails from the sales staff of the company, especially if I state that I do not want to receive e-mail from the company if that option is available. If you want people to evaluate the software and purchase it after the evaluation period is through, provide a warning at the end of the eval which links the user to the comany website where they can purchase the software. If they truly want to buy it they will. Also, offer a link in the help menu which directs the user to the web storefront where they can buy the software should they decide to do so before the eval period is up.
  • Joel's rule (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blacksqr ( 187231 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:50PM (#3369961) Homepage
    Joel's rule: every barrier to implementation reduces your customer base by 50%
    • Re:Joel's rule (Score:2, Informative)

      by Efes ( 456511 )
      You mean like not hyperlinking your URL's ? [] Preach for water and drink wine ...
    • Re:Joel's rule (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anthony Boyd ( 242971 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:37AM (#3371572) Homepage
      Joel's rule: every barrier to implementation reduces your customer base by 50%

      This was actually very literally proved out at Borland, too. While I was the Web guy there, we watched "attrition" rates for pages. It went something like this: if you have a home page with 1000 people hitting it, only 500 people will hit the subpages, and only 250 people will hit the sub-subpages. Once we realized that, we quickly moved to a very busy homepage with tons of links, trying to keep everything 2 or 3 clicks away at most. Even though I found the design to be ugly ugly ugly, I was amazed at how the numbers improved. Previously buried articles quadrupled their readership -- at the expense of nothing else. Everything benefitted from the rise.

    • Good,
      Then by Xeno's Paradox, [] you'll never lose all your customers! This should be an investor's dream company.

  • Why HOURS? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JCCyC ( 179760 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:53PM (#3369974) Journal
    By know you may have already realized the long delay to receive username/password is why people don't download. What I have to ask you is WHY, pray tell, it takes so damn long? Do people manually check addresses or something? You have to /usr/lib/sendmail something to the person straightaway!
  • Re-registering (Score:4, Interesting)

    by batobin ( 10158 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:53PM (#3369975) Homepage
    Might the people be merely requesting a new code to further their 30 day trial? Your software might have precautions against this, but on a Mac I know how easy it is to simply delete a preference file (ircle developers: please pretend you didn't read this).

    You could have already thought of this, but that's just the first thing that popped into my mind. They don't download the software because they already have the software. They just need a new code.
  • 1) Collect e-mail address then say "will mail username, passwd". If they had said it upfront and if it was immediate, it would be much more friendlier.
    2) Install spy-ware without public notice.
    3) Infect registry(for M$), store/replace files in strange non-obvious places.
    4) Difficult to uninstall.
    5) Send info about user without permission.
    6) Source not available. :-)
  • by BurritoWarrior ( 90481 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:53PM (#3369980)
    ...since I use Cowboy Neal's email address for all registration forms.
  • by techmuse ( 160085 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:55PM (#3369992)
    I do not like to give my e-mail address to companies, because I do not want spam. If I have to give my address to download software, I will likely not give it, or will give an incorrect address.
  • by Cryogenes ( 324121 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:59PM (#3370007)
    Take, for example the Borland downloads of Delphi Personal Edition, Kylix Open Edition etc. They ask you to register and fill out forms before you are allowed to download. Then installation itself is another multi-step process with various registration infos getting sent back and forth - it takes hours to complete.

    I just don't do this anymore. Much easier to get a version with all necessary serial numbers and whatever included from edonkey or usenet.

    Don't require registration. Don't ask intrusive questions. It is not good for your company if the legit evaluation copy is harder to obtain than the warez version.

    Do you believe in death after life?

  • To be blunt... (Score:2, Interesting)

    registration sucks. I usually never mess with products that force me to give real information in order to test it out. From what I have found consumer products just generate some extra spam in your inbox, it's the damn coporate products(high dollar stuff) that gets really annoying. I really don't need some saleman e-mailing me every single day for a month just because I wanted to try out his java database driver!!
  • by AtomicBomb ( 173897 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @09:05PM (#3370048) Homepage
    The simplest reason is the users have found something else in the mean time. It is particularly true if your product is mainstream (eg virus scanner, compression program, image viewer and the like).

    Say, they are looking for jp2 viewer, they will go for shareware first, then evaluation ware. If nothing is found, go for evaluation ware that need registration. As long as they find something okay, they will stop searching. (Of course, if your software is unique, and some customers really need that, then they will wait.... Maybe more common in some sector of the research community. Not so in the commerical world.)

    The better approach is to allow the user to download first. When they want to evaluate more advanced function of the software, pop up a window to lure them to register. If you really want to validate their email address in advance, please use automatic mail reply and ensure the avg time taken in within 5 mins rather than a few hours...
  • Fake addresses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anthony_dipierro ( 543308 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @09:07PM (#3370058) Journal

    Why might you stop short of actually downloading the software?

    Why do you think the people gave you their real email address in the first place?

    I'd say most of the non-downloaders simply didn't give you their real email address.

  • When I'd be looking at trial software, it would usually be because someone wants a feasability report on a project.

    If it's going to take me forever to register, then download, etc, you're burning into my research time and I'm already playing with your competitors product and telling the boss 'Yes, with $competing_software I can do it. Only 3,000 users at $49.99 each? Cool!'

    But seriously. If I've registered for a uname/pass but don't download the software, it's because in your pause I found something else that will probably fit my need, and grabbed it instead. Don't feel all that slighted, I've had hundreds of bits of software installed with none actually ever used.
  • I would never download a software if i have to register
    it. Indeed, i never do so, even if i payd for it. I'm receiving more that enough SPAM by now. I don't even register to read Newspapers online which sometimes are linked to slashdot articles. Thats to anoying. Why should i do such stupidity ??
    Why passwords if in the end anything is crackable ???!!

    ...and usually commercial software have the most anying bugs. If some Open Software has a bug, most probably next week its fixed. Then i do apt-get install ... On commercial Software you have to pay for a fix. What a robbery ! I prefer to stay with Open Software, and try to contribute as much i can.


  • Eval Software (Score:3, Interesting)

    by riwright ( 548413 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @09:14PM (#3370101)
    I often find that thirty days is simply not long enough to evaluate a product. The world of software development is frequently a turbulent one and priorities can shift from one day to the next.

    A good example is something that happened recently. We had a memory leak and I was asked to figure it out. I said that a profiler would be an excellent tool to have so I downloaded evals of a couple of popular products. Before I could get to any evaluation we sorted the problem out using other means.

    The tools we used we crude and even though the immediate problem was solved, I still wanted something more sophisticated. I moved on to other more pressing issues and when I finally had a quiet moment to install and play with the profilers, I realized my thirty days was gone.

    I think sales departments assume that developers live in a very linear world. That we:

    1.) Isolate the need for a product.
    2.) Collect relevant information.
    3.) Download demos
    4.) Conduct a formal evaluation
    5.) Based on the merits, make a decision.

    This is not the world I live in.

  • The key is to keep the person's interest in your product. When they are visiting your site, they are all hyped up about this potentially great product and so they are eager to try it. But the problem is people have short attention spans. You need to catch them in the moment where they are most focused on working with your product.

    You can't wait hours to send them a username and password, that whole system should be automated to send it to them immediately. Get them while they are interested in your service. I run a service [] where someone signs up at our site, and we send them their login information. If we waited hours to send them their login info, they wouldn't be interested in what we have to offer and would have moved on to a competitor by then.
  • by bunyip ( 17018 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @09:18PM (#3370122)
    Often, the Pointy Haired Boss (PHB) has an urgent need for me to evaluate some Left-Handed Swivelhopper, so I sign up for the eval. By the time I'm ready to try it out, the urgent need has changed, I'm chasing Object-Oriented Dooverlackies.

    I've often downloaded large files (>100MB even), then lost interest or found another way to solve my problem. Oops - I think I just admitted that I even change my own priorities! Oh well......
  • The largest reason for people to purchase anything is impulse. The novelity of the moment causes people to spend money they usually wouldn't spend.

    When you do not give people instant gratification, they simply lose interest.

    Better yet, let them use the software for 30 days, and after a week they'll never use the software again.

    Evaluation periods just don't work.
  • by legLess ( 127550 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @09:21PM (#3370133) Journal
    To answer your question, I'm very reluctant to give out my email address (even a web-based spam-catcher) to anyone. I'm even more reluctant when I think it will be used to market to me.

    I just downloaded a trial-ware app the other day, and the company in question also wanted my email address, physical address, who I worked for, etc. All of the form items were required. I said, "bullshit," and did a Google search for the program - a minute later I was installing it.

    So here's a question back: Why are you requiring people to register in the first place? Not knowing you or your business, I'd make two guesses:
    1. You're hoping to prevent your trialware being "pirated" or cracked, perhaps by keying each copy uniquely so you can identify the source of a cracked version.
    2. To collect information so you can market to me later, or sell my personal information to some other company.
    Frankly, I think they're both stupid reasons. First, you can't prevent a determined person from cracking your software, or getting a cracked copy if he/she wants it. Second, if you'r eethical and up-front about using the information for marketing purposes then most people will just opt-out.

    Unless you've got a better reason, think hard about why you're making it more difficult for people to get your software - and why you weren't clueful enough to figure out people wouldn't register in the first place.

    Lastly - hours?? That's one of the great things about online software distribution - you can have it right now. Unless I were convinced you were truly the only source in the world, I wouldn't even consider waiting that long.
  • by Sax Maniac ( 88550 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @09:23PM (#3370150) Homepage Journal
    Where I work, we routinely send out lots and lots demonstration software. A lot of them turn into sales.

    However, our method is the reverse of yours. You can download all the binaries [] whenever you want, any time, all the time. Transfer interrputed? Go ahead, download again. Downloaded it, but lost it? Download again. Got corrupted? Download again. These are the real things, not crippled evaluation versions.

    What we do is liberally give out demo licenses [] via email, that expires after a short time. Provided you're not an asshole, you can renew your demo licenses.

    Of course, the downside to this it could be cracked and warez'd out. I don't know the company stance and don't pretend to speak for it, but I don't care. Piracy is part of doing business in software, and the less you piss off your customers, IMHO, the better. So, while I don't like people pirating our software, I'm still against the recent stupid-ass (c'mon, you all know the words!) laws that seem to have festered recently in this area.

    Perhaps this works better, I don't know why. Maybe it's psychological: people download the binary first and then feel they need to try it out to justify the time spent. Or something like that.

    • by alcmena ( 312085 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @10:31PM (#3370473)
      I'll admit, there is very few pieces of demo-ware that I've bought. Though, there is one piece that I did. AnyJ [] has a cool way of doing it. You can download as many times as you want. Every one of the features are there to use. If you try to open a project older than 90 days, it reminds you that you should register, but lets you continue anyway. For those reasons, I bought a personal license. And in fact, my past two companines have switched from their IDE's to AnyJ because of the demo's they tried.

      I guess what I'm trying to say is that many other posters out here. Do not require an email address until they buy the software. Do not cripple the program from the start. If you treat your customers like pirates, pirates they will become (see RIAA). If you treat your customers like people you want to please, then some will buy, and some will decide your product isn't worth it. That's the chance you take.
    • Seen your site. The "free download" requires name, address, company name, address, email, blah blah. And I still don't even know what your software *does*
  • Most people fill out registrations with BS, I know I do. With the ones that require and email I use a temporary email account. Once I get the registration, I delete the email account. No spam thank you.

    Then there's the software itself. Time limited trials are no good. Most people won't get too involved with the software if they know it's going to suddenly stop working one day. Either offer a slimmed down version with no time limit, or a slimmed down version with no time limit and a full version with a time limit so the user has a choice. You might be suprised at what most people are going to choose.
  • A lot of people don't like giving their email addresses in order to get stuff. That is presumably not the problem you're having, though, because it's unlikely that people will put in a fake email address to which the information on how to get the software will be sent. If something asks for an email address to send information to, I either go away or I give a real one, because I don't get anything by giving a fake one. (I may give a fake one if it just wants an email address but I'm not expecting anything I want to be sent to it). Likewise, if I'm annoyed enough that something is asking for an email address gratuitously to not want to deal with the site, I'm not going to give an email address.

    On the other hand, if I'm expecting information by email in response to a web request, I expect to get a response in a minute. It's not like sending me email is at all complicated. If it takes longer than that, I'm going to look for an alternative. If the site takes a few hours, I've probably already started using a different program, and I'm not interested in the one I found at first.
  • If I am evaluating software to purchase, I rarely fill out the download form. The longer the form is (and the more fields are required), the less likely I am to fill it out. IF I fill it out, I'll use a sneakemail address or a fake address..

    I will simply skip your software if I need to wait for an e-mail from you for a download key. There is no software I'm looking for on the web that I'm willing to waste my time for like that. I was looking for upload components for IIS the other day.. It's for a product I'm developing, and it must be redistributable royalty-free. I found a good component, downloaded it.. but was really turned off by the licensing options. Basically they said, "We only license this per-server. There are no site licenses, no redistributable licenses. We used to have site licenses, but once yours expires you need to buy a new license for every server." So, licensing is a huge turn-off for some eval software.

    Basically, if I'm looking for a software component on the web it can't be too important. I don't exactly hunt around for full-scale accounting packages from companies I've never heard of. Chances are, your software just isn't important enough to justify making users jump through hoops to download it.

    Why do you need my information anyway? I don't want you to call me.. frequently there is no checkbox where you can say, don't bother me at the office. I just don't see a reason why companies need a complete database of everyone who has tried their software.

  • Make it possible to use download accelerators like Gozilla. I have occasionally wanted to download a demo of something, only to find that because of the way the download page is structured, Gozilla can't kick in and take control of the download. When this happens, and if the file is large, I'll just give up rather than take the chance the download will be interrupted.
  • by Nindalf ( 526257 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @09:39PM (#3370216)
    "This looks interesting, I'll just try their free evaluation version..."
    "Ugh... they want my email address... Yeah, you send your spam to"
    "Damn it, these spammy bastards mail you the access codes. [sigh] Okay, here's my real address..."
    "Okay, Kazaa, where's the full version?"
  • My reasons (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sivar ( 316343 ) <(charlesnburns[) (at) (]> on Thursday April 18, 2002 @09:44PM (#3370236)
    1) If you need my email address, I don't need your software. (and if I do need your software, I'll enter
    2) Most utilities and apps are more trouble than they're worth. Particularly if we are talking about Windows software, it seems popular for 'programmers' to make a big deal out of their little program, writing all over the registry and putting files who knows where (which should not leave the program's own directory). Most of these save their registry settings "just in case" its reinstalled and don't fully uninstall themselves.
    As far as Unix programs, chances are there's a better and free implimentation at Freshmeat. Make it GPL.
    3) With Windows shareware/demoware in general, it's just a pain to deal with the cute little "register me" BS like popup windows, program start delays, time limits, "enter your registration number," etc. If I like the program, I'll register it, but annoying me every time I use the program just associates being annoyed with using that program.
    Psychology 101 will show companies why that is a bad thing.
    Just my $0.02
  • The time it takes to learn a new piece of software is an investment. I don't really feel like spending the time learning something, then spending MORE if I like it. Granted, the developer doesn't get anything if I invest that time... UNLESS: I invest the time and find I like this particular UNLIMITED SHAREWARE APPLICATION and send the $15 'recommended' fee the developer asked for. Which I have in many cases.

    Better than 30day trial is nag-ware type thing. How many people registered ACDSee just to get rid of that? It's AWSOME software, that's why you do it.

    (ramble off)
  • "We have been surprised to find that not a few registrants don't actually go on to download the software."
    • If you make the system requirements as clear as that sentence, I can understand why there might be a problem.

    • Seriously though ... people downloading from the web want instant gratification ... not a 2 hour delay between when they start looking for a solution, and when they actually install a potential useful tool. During that time, they're likely to move on and find another solution that will achieve the same task. Evaluation software should be just that ... an evaluation for the user. It shouldn't be treated as a way for your company to collect user-information. Nine times out of ten, they'll have no interest in the software, but if they do, you can be sure that they'll come back when the evaluation is over. If you want to collect user-information, integrate it into the application, and give the user the option. You'll be surprised how many agree to give you their information if you ask the right way.
  • 1- Do ANYTHING that prevents me from downloading, installing, and using it immediately.

    2- Require any sort of registration, especially when it requires a real email address. I don't want you to contact me, and if you don't want to contact me without approval, than you do not need my email address.

    3- Limit your more useful and necessary features. Think about it.
  • A few hours (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Peter H.S. ( 38077 ) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @10:18PM (#3370399) Homepage
    An email containing a username and password is sent to the registrant a few hours after submission.

    As so many others have mentionend, a "few hours" is a very long time. Perhaps not only because people have a short attention span, but because people, the potential costumers, are comparison shopping, and the delay meant that they went elsewere.

    I don't know what software your company is making, but lets assume it is something for the desktop user, a piece of software that may have advanteges over the competition, but nevertheless may be easely substituted with something from a competing company. Eg. a small photo editing app.

    Somewhere, a proud owner of a new digital camera, wants that kind of software; he goes searching on the web, looks at screenshoots, featurelists and prices, and decides that 3 products looks promising: two of the products are instantly downloaded and tried out, but your app, requires not only a long registration formular, but induces a surpricing two hour waiting period, in which your potential costumer, not only have tried your competitions apps, but may have actually bought them.

    Think about going down "Main Street", shopping for a pair of shoes; In one shop, when asking for trying out a pair of shoes, the expedient hands you a two page formular, asking among other things, your phone number, age and job status.
    After spending 20 minutes filling it out, you are then told to come back in a couple of hours.
    You then go elsewhere.

    Lets assume, that your software is somewhat more expensive, and not an "impulse" buy. Perhaps an unique app, that will help people design better, and faster "foo". Surely, professionals may be more patient. But no, that work dead afternoon, where you potential costumer is searching the web for tools that may make him more productive, may be followed up by 5 hectic days. So if you don't engage your potential costumer when he has time, you can loose an oppertunity.
    Same thing with the trial period; if your software cost serious money, it probably requieres several hours to test. Most professionals have way too little time at their disposal, they may only have some short timeslots availeably during a week, for testing something new. 30 days may pass quickly, so bump the trial period to 60 days (like eg. IBM does).

    In short, make your product as easely availably as possible.

  • Hmm. Well, I take it you've never sat on the monkey side of the programmer->supportmonkey flow of power.

    Here's how it goes: I sit reading Slashdot, furrowing my brow feriously. A problem arises or my boss gets a fantastically [stupid] idea. I curse the gods of mediocrity that prevent me from rising any higher in the IT field, then I bust into monkey action... I need software to get a job done, the boss refuses to pay money for the correct solution, it's time to find some evaluation crap, rig something up, and let the boss worry about it when the license expires and my rigged solution isn't legal anymore.

    1) I chart out my ideas, go over my available tools (not many, or I wouldn't be in this position), and figure out what parts I'll need from the outside.

    2) I go to the outside. Software repositories, google, a few monkey message boards, the usual.

    3) I download everything that looks close.

    4) I install each program, one by one, and try to cram it into my preplanned solution.

    5) I pick my favorites, modify my solution to their inevitable flaws (they're free = sub-perfect), and start on the three-crates-and-a-banana testing phase.

    6)I'm a monkey, so I just bang the crates into each other until the banana falls down.

    7) You e-mail the fake address I gave you back in step 3 because I'm angry and don't give a f--- about your information database.

    8) Magically, the e-mail makes it to me anyway. If it doesn't get filtered, I delete it anyhow because I'm already at least in the testing stage.

    Monkey power, baby. I'm who you're selling to. If you're going to make any money, it's because I tell the boss in a month that I refuse to let us use your tool because it's illegal. The only way I'm going to do that is if I don't hate you, and your product works.

    Making me register makes me hate you. Worse, it gives your competitors a fat lead into my mindspace; and I'm lazy, so I'm not about to change my views when you come begging.

    Monkey power.

  • One possible problem is that your eval-users receive their password email "a few hours" after signing up. You really should send the email immediately, so that the user can download and install the software in the same session. If I have to register, then wait for an email, that means I'm going to go on to other things in the meantime, and I may get sidetracked so that when the email finally does arrive, I no longer have the time or inclination to handle it at the moment, and so it gets forgotten.

    So, my recommendation: automate your process so that the user can download the software *immediately* (or at least, within a few minutes of completing the registration information). That should help.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @12:00AM (#3370959)
    A lot of people seem to be harping about registering to download something.

    When I eval stuff for work (software developer), I don't mind at all registering my work info. It's the same way with conferences - I'm happy to give out my info.

    Why? In general I find that companies trying to sell to other companies are not nearly as bad about spam as Fred's House 'O Cheap DVD's. Besides, it's my work mail account - who cares what happens to that.

    So registration is not the problem as I see it. As others have said, you need to let the users download it whenever they like - look at just about any big chunck of enterprise software, they all have full versions you can DL. Then you need to send out a key, pronto! And make it easy. I've seen plenty of software where I downloaded it by then by the time I got the key I was doing something else and forgot the whole thing, or the key was such a PITA to get I just dropped the whole thing.

    If you are worried about someone downloading it and making copies - fold up shop and shut down the company. You're going to be dissapointed if you expect anything less than everyone on earth having a fully enabled copy hours after the first regitsered user fires it up. Learn to live with that, then charge a fair price and people WILL pay you - remember, it's not even thier own money they are using so they are probably included to give you some! Plus, companies like nothing more than paying for support contracts even when they are not needed.
  • What turns me off? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by interstellar_donkey ( 200782 ) <> on Friday April 19, 2002 @12:37AM (#3371171) Homepage Journal
    Number 1: It's been said time and again, but registration. There are a million reasons why a company wants to have this, and I see these posts from people saying that I have no position to compain. I have EVERY reason to compain. I am a potential customer. And I don't want you to know anything about me until I buy your software. That's what I would prefer.

    If I'm made to type in an e-mail address to download, I type in a bogus address. If I need to get a key or anything else from my e-mail, I've just been sent the message that the software company does'nt want my business. This has happened more then once, and I've gone somewhere else. If I like your software, and I give you my or my companies credit card number, you get to know who I am. Not before.

    2. Full featured software. If I bother to download your evaulation, I expect to be able to use it. When I can't save my work, or find that an important feature is turned off, or I have some stupid 10 minut time limit, the software gets deleted.

    3. Installation. I can tell right away how much I'd like or not like a peice of software by installation. Paste icons all over my desktop without asking? You've annoyed me. Put yourself in my startup, even though it's not needed? You're gone. Bundle yourself with spyware? You're gone.

    4. Remind me, clearly, when the evaulation period is getting to the end. 'You have 5 days left in your evaulation period' when I start the program up. I can think of many times when I've found a peice of software I like, forget to purchase it, forget to get approval for the purchase. I find another way to get something done, and I'll just forget about it. If I were a more orginized person, I'd keep tabs of those things, but I'm not.
  • by Naum ( 166466 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:02AM (#3371464) Homepage Journal

    I loathe any evaluation type software, especially that which has some timer/trial date period before it forces you to register/buy the product. And I especially detest it when it embeds itself into the registry (specifically speaking of Windows platforms) and even after uninstalling, it still isn't completely wiped off my HD. It still shows but yet when I try to remove programs/uninstall, I get an error message ...

    Some tips for aspiring developers to break free of the not-so-surprising (at least to me) pattern of timid experimenters and reluctant trial end users.

    1. How about producing a demo version instead of an evaluation copy. The evaluation copy scheme is a leftover from older times of computing where a software manufacturer could get themselves "in the door" and etch out a niche supplying needed functionality. It's a new century now, there's a world wide web full of alternative products, and as most of the useability studies indicate, people won't hesitate to hit the back button or shelve a download that they're unsure of. A demo, on the other hand, is a stand alone, scaled down version of the product - it may be gimped in terms of complete functionality, options customization, advanced features, etc. but at least it presents to the user what the product looks like, what it does (and can potentially do) and gets the user acquainted with the UI look and feel. For successful examples, look no further than recent game releases - a Freedom Force [] demo where you get 2 single player campaigns and a taste of the character customization palette. It, no doubt, endeared many subsequent customers that went ahead with a new game purchase.

    2. Having to register and supply boat loads of required personal information for a trial version is a big turnoff for many. Scale back the information collecting field requirements - some information may be necessary to track who, what, and why, but if most people won't even register their software, what makes software creators believe that they're more than willing to bend over backwards in acquiescing personal data?

    3. I feel firms would be better served by diverting resources unto building interactive communities centered on the public use of the product. Yes, I realize the scourge of piracy and stolen software, but let's face it - the best sort of advertising is word of mouth or the testimonials of real, honest users whose feedback will continue to improve and enhance the product. I find it appalling that companies are still locked into this "shrink-wrap-now-were-done" mentality. Market forces will conspire and leave those entrepreneurs in the dust.
  • by Robber Baron ( 112304 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @02:38AM (#3371576) Homepage
    Having to hunt around on the 'net for a crack! Seriously, if it's worth having, I will buy it, as long as doing so is easier than obtaining a cracked make that part as painless as possible and we'll get along just fine.

    Filling out those "forms" doesn't really bug me too much (except that bloody CNET wants us to fill out bloody forms now just to download freeware!), as I fill them all out pretty much the same:

    Name: Homer Simpson
    Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC.
    Country: Azerbajan
    Zip: 90210
    Year of birth: 1900

    ...and so on. You get the idea.

  • by aquarian ( 134728 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @04:40AM (#3371888)
    You'd think people in the business of writing software would be able to figure out how to generate a key and password and send it to you instantly.
  • I'm guilty of this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HydroCarbon10 ( 40784 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @08:18AM (#3372579) Journal
    Whenever I go to the point of registering as if I were planning on buying or trying a piece of software and yet I don't actually carry through it means that the vendor didn't have all the information I needed available on the website. Quite often I'll register with a fake email address to check and see what the pricing schemes look like, what it will cost to ship a product, or just to see if I can glean any extra information from the website after registering.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter