What to choose: freeware, shareware or software?


This question seems appropriate for programmers as well as for startups A few years ago I've developed a program that has a steady group of users. It became quite popular and now we have close to two million downloads on Download.com.

At first I provided the application as freeware to reach as many users as I could, but there is server costs and of course it would be nice to receive a bit of money in return for your effort.

I'm looking for a way to gain reasonable revenue from my freeware application, but still make a bit of money. Here's my experience so far:

Xacti : Low revenue and it took me a lot of emails to eventually get my money.

OpenCandy : Friendly, revenue is ok, good online overview of your downloads.

InstallMonitizer: We're testing with them right now, revenue seems higher and a referral program.

Another option would be to switch to shareware (let's say 30-day trial based), but I think that would cost me a lot of users. The offer screens are harmless in my opinion.

What do you use for your software (opensource, freeware, shareware)?

What are your experiences so far?

Revenue Users Money

asked Dec 12 '11 at 19:23
106 points
  • You mention server costs. Does that mean your product establishes a session on your server(s) and is required to do so in order to function? If so, have you considered the SaaS option? – Steve Taylor 12 years ago
  • You post will be marked as spam. You continue to add you referral program in it. Please consider adding you web sites in your user profile only. – Ross 12 years ago
  • Server costs mean the cost of hosting the website, bandwidth for downloads etc. – Zyphrax 12 years ago

1 Answer


I am a passionate Open Source user. I even build software myself, if necessary.

I never use software which labels itself "shareware". I used shareware approx 2 times the past two years. With the term "shareware" I always feel it is something weird, probably installing trojans on my system.
Better I like the term "Demo". I am not sure why, but I have downloaded much more Software labeling itself as demo than "shareware".
Of course, this is highly subjective, but I feel like this. Probably others do feel like that the same.

I sometimes use freeware. But to be honest, i am not a huge fan of software which is free and I cannot look into the source code. I mean... how do they make their money? Installing something weird on my system?

You see I am a bit paranoid. My option (when open source is not avail) is to go to a serious website, look at the imprint and think if this developers look good or not. No name and just a PObox? No party.
Then I am willing to pay. I have never used Candy or similar stuff, except the Android Market and Mac Store. Actually I am willing to pay the devs directly and get my software license straightaway.

Another option I like is a reduced free version and some features enabled when getting the pro version.

Hope that helps a bit!


answered Dec 12 '11 at 23:28
3,590 points
  • I feel the same way about the shareware/demo definition. The thing that often worries me with OpenSource is quality control. – Zyphrax 12 years ago
  • The thing that often worries me with **Closed Source** is quality control. The thing with *Open Source* is **User Experience**. But you may be using Quality as another word for UX and overlooking code mantainability, overall security, and project vitality. – Zjr 12 years ago

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