I have been saying for a long time that Open Source is a winner because it has the best prospects of not being shelfware. First it is easy to try all the different Open Source software – so the Open Sourcers quickly learn that a key success factor and differentiator is to provide prospective users with plenty of installation help and guidance – often in an automated fashion. But second Open Source also builds up community – a sense of sharing “how to do” and “how to work around” – because it is open source and a significant fraction of users are sufficiently savvy to work in the macro-language if not the development language of manyOpen Source tools.
But now trail software is taking on new dimensions. Users can get demos/trials of software in various complexions:
a)demos which simulate the usage of the software with true screenshots and mouse movements and actual choices being made along the way by “software” users/testers. take a look at Macromedias Captivate or Qarbons Viewlet Builder or Techsmiths Camtasia Studio for “live” demo software;
b)then there is trialware which is software crippled in functionality, capacity and/or duration that gives the trial user a good representation of what the app will be like;
c)there is cheap, pay as you go, webware which is all setup ready to run and for free or a small fee you can get started, kick the tires or even do practical and useful things;
d)and then there is Open Source software where you can make and bake yourself or go with the latest build and see if useful work can get done.
But this returns us to our starting point – Open Source is the best trial software.