Is Trial Software Shelfware?

In a comment to my earlier post, Matt asked an interesting question: “It is true that trial software is just shelfware?

It depends on whether I have asked for it or not. If a vendor shipped a CD contain a trial of their software to me without me asking for it, it would end up on a shelf and I would install it when I had the time and/or need for it, if ever. In such a case, yes, it becomes shelfware.

But if I have asked for the trial then I already have a need to evaluate it and would do so at the first available moment. A typical example would be a downloaded trial. I have download tons of trial software and cannot remember a single occassion wherein I have not installed the trial software that I have just spend my time and bandwidth downloading. In such a case, hell no, trialware certainly does not become shelfware.

At SYCODE, we offer 10 day/run fully functional trials of all our products. Before we upgraded to Visual Studio 2005 (the software required to develop plugins for AutoCAD 2007/2008 and Rhino 4.0), we first got hold of the trial, built a test plug-in, tested it and when we were satisfied with the results, we went ahead and upgraded. It seems like a logical thing to do and we believe that most of the world thinks this way.

I cannot recollect a single occassion wherein I have purchased a piece of software before trying it out with my data, not some pretty samples that come bundled with the trial. And I have certainly not purchased any software by simply looking at flashy demos or attending webinars.

And neither have I bought a car before test driving it.