Desktop Software Startup: Offering Free Version and 30 day Trial overkill?


Basically, I am doing pay per feature for my desktop software.

I offer a base version which is free, but has limited functionality.

I also offer 15 day trial on specific features users wants to test out. (formerly 30 day).

I'm still getting downloads about 23, with no sales so far. I managed 1 trial user. 1 lost sales lead which did not result in a sale (client went with competitors).

Here's my thinking, if the user downloads the free version, they might have expectancy of it doing some things. But I have limited the free version greatly. For example, they are only able to format 1000 documents at a time and cannot export the process documents, they have to manually copy paste that data, which is tedious.

Should I srap the free version and simply let users request a trial by contact form?

Or, keep everything as is, but remove the tight restrictions on the free version?

The reason, I maintained this very tight capability restriction on the free version is because I also charge a standard fee of $99 for each upgrade even if the user doesn't upgrade to extra features. This $99 removes the 1000 document limitation and the ability to export data.

Trial Freemium Desktop

asked Dec 23 '11 at 01:14
227 points

2 Answers


I have a business partner that opened my eyes, he said that he didn't want to appeal to the "always free" crowd. I thought about that for a sec, I'm an always free guy and I rarely pay for software so I, as a free guy, will search out a free version of what I am looking for with no intentions on making any kind of a purchase. So, as soon as he said that he didn't want to cater to the "always free" crowd I got it! There is a market for a lot of different kinds of software, if your software is useful and solves a big enough problem that companies or individuals would spend money on it to fix their problem(s) then that's how you can make some money at it.

You wouldn't necessarily be appealing to me or my demographic but that's just one demographic. Who is your real demographic? How much would they pay for a solution to their problem?

I am of the mind set now that free is just not the way to go unless you're a facebook or something that can sell advertising based on volume. I would do some research, target my market and see what they want and how much they would spend to get it.

Oh, and BTW I think that serious buyers would do a 15 day trial. I would abandon the free version all together.

Good luck to you,
Tim - VA

answered Dec 23 '11 at 05:04
670 points


I think you can offer both. The Free, limited version may suit the needs of some users permanently. That can provide a good user base and good press if the program works well. And they may eventually buy, perhaps because their needs increase. And some people just need a longer while to make the decision. If they like it and will eventually need more features, they will buy. But you should expect a lot of downloads that you never hear from.

The time-limited trial lets more serious users try it out. I personally think 15 days is too short - but I don't know what your software does. The problem with this is it shuts down completely after the trial period. I think both plans are good.

answered Dec 23 '11 at 04:25
Patrick Ny
300 points

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Trial Freemium Desktop