Is "Shareware" a bad word?


Should we market our "Try Before You Buy" software as Shareware or not?

I've heard that it may have a bad connotation and you're better off calling it something else.

Should I try to avoid using the "S" word on my site?

... or is what I'm hearing overblown?

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asked Nov 13 '09 at 14:59
1,471 points
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3 Answers


Absolutely agree that the term and business plans around "shareware" are behind the times. I saw in one of your other questions that someone recommended your release a web app of your product. Good advice, if it is relevant.

I would check out the following products / companies / movements to help bring you up to speed with new software companies making great progress:

37 Signals, Backpack, Basecamp, etc. - their excellent e-book on starting up a software company today, Getting Real.

They've established a real cottage industry for add on products and companies here.

Evernote, another really relevant software company - check out their podcasts to get a good sense of how they run their company.

Finally, just a general recoomendation for Joel on Software's Business of Software forum.

Good Luck!

answered Nov 14 '09 at 02:16
Rs Holman
596 points


The only time I see the word shareware nowadays is when I am installing some productivity app from or something. It would be helpful to know what sort of software you are providing and who is targeted at.

Generally the pattern I am seeing these days is "30 Days Free Trial" or something along those lines. I think once you further define your product and your target market you will be able to get better feedback.

answered Nov 13 '09 at 15:03
Usman Sheikh
1,728 points
  • Usman: See my profile for my software – Lkessler 14 years ago


Shareware does tend to be an old word now, but what you may want to do is release a version that has some limited functionality, so that people can get an idea. If you have it for a 30 day trial that can generally be worked around by the user, so it would be better to just let them use the limited one if they want, as, if they like it and it meets their needs, they will share that info with their friends.

If you require them to buy it then they will work to get around your protection or find a replacement, but they will probably not be a paying customer.

I wouldn't suggest that you have it be the full version, if they type in some serial number, as people will work around that also, so just have paying customers download the full version again.

answered Nov 13 '09 at 15:27
James Black
2,642 points

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