Guest Author - Leena Kothari
How many times have you heard "nothing in life is free", and "you only get what you pay for"? Value is often described as "cost plus usability". So, why should I utilize a download that has no cost? Does that mean it has no value as well..?
Let's face it, some folks are only comfortable if they can pay for a product or service, and the more they pay - the better they feel. And others only look for the freebies in life, putting no value on the amount of time and energy expended trying to make these freebies fit!
But, unlike the "real world", the "world of the Web" is a different model, and enjoys a different set of rules from the world we are accustomed to. How often do you encounter a woodworker sitting on a street corner, passing out samples of her handiwork? Or an artist drawing portraits of onlookers, giving them away freely with a simple "here, I want you to have this as my gift"?
Yet the Web is full of designers and programmers who give their work away each and every day.
Well, there's the philosophical answer, and there's the practical one.
Philosophically, helping others makes many of us feel good. It's that simple. There's a worldwide community of developers, connected by the Internet, that take pride in sharing their knowledge of computing with others - via freeware. They contribute to your computing pleasure by making your task a little easier, faster, or less expensive, and they do so by adding small bits of code they have developed to databases to be downloaded by anyone, anywhere.
On a practical basis, if they have a Web site, and if you download and use their freeware, then perhaps you will visit their site and purchase a "deluxe edition" of the same freeware. Freeware that doesn't meet your expectations certainly won't prompt you to visit their sites. Free or not, many companies put their reputations on the line when offering you freeware.
Freeware is a friendly bonus for visiting a Web site, signing up for a newsletter, joining a list, and dozens of other promotional possibilities. Some sites use pages of freeware programs to attract visitors, and then profit if you click on links like Google ads or Amazon. Either way, you benefit from the generosity of the developers and the promotional consideration of the Web site owners.
A good example is the popular shareware and freeware site Download.zdnet. Zdnet offers both freeware and shareware programs that have been downloaded and verified safe by thousands of users. No one complains that Zdnet doesn't charge for these links! This is one of the trusted reviewers of shareware and freeware downloads with thousand of software.
One of my personal favorites is Tucows. Software reviews and huge collection of shareware and freeware software to download. I am constantly looking for freeware and free utilities for my computer. Why should I pay a company for software to perform task that I can get it for free?
Don't be hesitant to take advantage of freeware! Many of the programs available for download are small programs that have been developed by one programmer, debugged and refined by many others, and shared by all.