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When I see an article starting with the sentence saying a company offering free software has urged people to start reaping the benefits of free software, I get this sinking feeling. I mean, they would, wouldn't they - it's a bit like Microsoft saying everyone should get the benefit of total compatibility from its various offerings. True though it might be, it's hardly a surprise.

Which is why the announcement that Global Graphics is pushing people towards the free model left me cold at first. It's a supplier of the systems it wants to push - I therefore didn't look much beyond the first sentence of comment from the chief executive.

What actually caught my eye about the announcement was the claim that 74% of enterprises are already using this free stuff. And this led me to think: are these guys nuts? If your software fails and your company suffers, who's obliged to offer support if you're not actually paying for it?

And yet this is the way the software industry is starting to go. Microsoft's next version of Office will include a free one - once Google had offered its Docs service I suppose they didn't have the choice (now there's an interesting psychological point - I called it a service rather than software, completely automatically). Others will no doubt follow and of course OpenOffice has been there for a while.

Personally I'll keep paying for software as long as I can. I'm self-employed - and if my software goes pfft and leaves me in a hole, I want to be able to jump up and down a bit.

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Last Post by John Farrell
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Hi Guy,

Ultimately you're right - companies want support and are prepared to pay for it, which is why we have corporate licensing for those that do. But individuals are also very keen to 'try before they buy' and that need is met with free trial software. If someone takes the time to try software, they get to keep some software in return.

So it's not just giving software away. It's a way of rewarding interest, promoting software products through real adoption, and scaling up to support companies who want paid-for support.

regards
Paul (at Global Graphics)

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I could not agree more. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR and if you do not pay for something do not expect to get the service you deserve or need. I would much rather continue to pay for software and get good customer service and a product warranty, then have something go wrong with the software and my HARD worked business getting affected. Then this sort of leads me to think, whatever happened to capitalism, competing for the market and making money?

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let's not knock stuff just because they are free. Google for one has a lot of apps and software that are great to use and have good support. These are also free.

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There are two points here:
1. Free trial vs. free software
Free trial allows users to test drive it but it also allows companies to build a loyal base. I do wonder what is the conversion rate of people who download the software and eventually buy it.
2. Free software - yes, I am totally like you - I dont trust it because we know in this life, nothing is free. Google provides free Office to promote longer stay on Google, more data on users (God only knows for what), and more people who will view more ads once they get back to gmail.

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If a company launches free software/application, no doubt there is few intentions but those are useful also. Like, you see the android applications, there are lot of free applications and honestly I am saying that I use only free app.

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