When should I convert my trial software into full licenses?


At what point should I stop using "trial" software and start paying for full licensing? If I'm making money using a program, shouldn't I pay for it?

Tools Licensing

asked Nov 18 '10 at 04:13
409 points

4 Answers


@Gary E - I disagree with you. I think you're point of view is certainly valid but it also blankets all trial software as something that is made by mom and pop developers (at least that is what I got out of your post).

I for one use trial software that I have no intention of ever buying even though it is very useful. What is it, you ask? Visual C# Express 2010. Do I not buy the software because I'm a bad person? No, it's because I can't afford to spend $800+ for the commercial version.

I agree with Jeremy's point of view, use the trial as much as you can and then pay if need be. I understand that many people here create software for a living, however, if you offer this product indefinitely for free then you should really take a look at your revenue model. Nowhere did I see Jeremy state that you should use nefarious means to extend trials and I definitely do NOT support doing that, but if you are a developer and you offer a product for trial and do not put a limit on usage (whether time or features) then why should I "buy the cow when I get the milk for free"?? There is an easy fix to this problem, either time limit your trial or feature limit the trial.

Now I have a question for all of those in favor of paying regardless if it is needed. How many of you use Open Source software? How many of you that do, actually donate financially to the projects?

answered Nov 18 '10 at 09:00
289 points
  • +1 so long as you aren't bypassing the payment process (e.g. by altering the registry), but simply have not been asked to pay. You also make a good point that a tiny percentage of people will voluntarily pay for software they use without being hassled. – Elie 13 years ago
  • Anybody mind explaining the down vote? – Jetti 13 years ago


Wait until the software (or the company) forces you to pay. If the company didn't factor in someone using their trial version for ever and didn't expect that, they the messed up. The only other reason I would pay is if you have the money to do so and want to support the company so the software doesn't die or you need custom features.

answered Nov 18 '10 at 05:16
Jeremy Heiler
138 points
  • Care to respond, downvoter? – Jeremy Heiler 13 years ago
  • @Jeremy - wasn't me, but I'll bet it was because your answer sounds like it almost condones piracy. – Moshe 13 years ago
  • @Moshe -- How so? It's not the customer's responsibility to pay for trial software if the trial never ends. – Jeremy Heiler 13 years ago
  • @Jeremy - but there are ways to extend trials. – Moshe 13 years ago
  • I'll go ahead and cancel that down-vote out. How many people have used WinZip or WinRAR forever... it's only logical to do so, because they allow it. – Fosco 13 years ago
  • @Fosco -- Thanks. It's also possible a company doesn't care because they may already make their money from corporate accounts. – Jeremy Heiler 13 years ago
  • I'd argue the same as Gary - if you derive benefit form it for a commercial enterprise then you should pay for it. Just my opinion and view on the ethics of it. – Tim J 13 years ago
  • I'm not arguing that one should circumvent trials by removing the registry key or something. That is cheating, although I do think it shouldn't be that easy if having customers pay for the software is a real concern for the company. But if a trial just simply doesn't say "your time is up! pay up or we wont let you use the program!" then why pay? I mean, if you like the software enough and have finally made money with your business, then sure, pay. It makes sense to support the company that supports you. It's foolish not to. – Jeremy Heiler 13 years ago
  • I am not sure who keeps downvoting or more particularly why, but I wholly agree. but @Tim Lets assume a company "messed up" and released a version of their software that should have had pay restrictions. If they don't have the capacity to innovate and iterate and introduce a new must have feature that they can tier into a paid version, should I really feel bad about not supporting that shop? – Mfg 13 years ago


If you are making money using a trial software program you should have already paid for it. You are directly benefiting from someone else's product. It is the correct, ethical thing to do. And just becasue the software has not forced you to pay does not mean you are not in violation of the license terms by using it for business purposes without paying.

Many of us here are software developers. We would like to continue supporting our companies and families by getting paid for our work. Some of us make mistakes and make our trial versions a bit too easy to continue using.

What actually separates using a trial copy of software for our own profit from looking on line for a serial number or key to convert a trail program into a full version? If your neighbor's child offers to cut your lawn and agrees to let you pay him later- is it ok to hide from him so you don't have to pay?

answered Nov 18 '10 at 07:44
Gary E
12,510 points
  • Your lawn mowing example is a sketchy analogy. I think a better one would be where you see him every day and keep clicking in the dialog bubble above his hand, 'pay later'. Anyway, what does separate using trial software from piracy is the fact that in the former, the software must not have had a convincing full suite, in the latter the law-breaker was convinced of the must-have features in the full baked software that they had to upgrade from the trial. As for "mistakes" in versioning your software, correct the mistake and update to a new version; add a superlative feature, be convincing. – Mfg 13 years ago


As long as trial software meets your needs, I see no reason to pay more due to any sort of altruism.

That said, most companies develop an idea of their current user base, their desired base, and an idea of what critical mass they want to support at an enterprise or white label level. Look at anti-virus suites: they tailor their products around getting momentum from a home user and give it away for free, but charge once you want to perform in power user or scalable environments.

The same goes for the flavors of Windows (Home v. Pro), or Commander Keen video games. If Chapter 1 is all you really want or need to play, why pay more?

answered Nov 18 '10 at 04:47
246 points
  • Could I get an explanation on the downvote? – Mfg 13 years ago

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