About shareware and users today

June 10th, 2002

Many of you have noticed new versions of WhereIsIt are not coming out as frequently as they used to in the past years, and are inquiring about the whereabouts of the next major version 3.50. The short answer is that the time devoted to developing WhereIsIt has been adjusted over the past few months accordingly to the state and attitude of general users community.

Things have changed a lot over the last year or two, and not for the better. Of course there was always warez and pirating around, in some ways even more than now, but there are some fundamental differences to the state as is today. There used to be an underlying understanding using cracks is both immoral and illegal, something to be ashamed about, but apparently this is no longer the case. Today using cracks has become more or less a common practice, and today one can see "users" publicly complaining after being busted on illegal usage. For WhereIsIt alone, 9 out of 10 related posts on the Usenet are referring to finding a crack that works.

There is no legal or moral justification for using cracks or fake licenses, starting with "I'm evaluating the product", in most cases indefinitely. No one was ever given a go-ahead for "evaluating" with a fake license. This kind of using software is illegal, it is and it will be treated as such.

WhereIsIt was never designed or intended to make money, but it's not released as freeware either, nor it will be. I do believe paying for a product that one is using and has took over five years of dedicated time to develop is a way for showing proper respect for someone else's work. No one is forcing or tricking anybody to pay up, and no one is forcing anybody to use WhereIsIt. However if one chooses to keep it and use it, that one is expected to pay for the usage. Pricing is reasonable and comparable to other similar products, and unlike most other software products that milk out existing customers with each new upgrade, upgrades for WhereIsIt have always been free for existing registered users and are still today, even for those registering back in 1997.

WhereIsIt is offered to public under certain conditions and the license agreement, shown to and confirmed by every user who wants to install the software is clear on the issue. The conditions are fair enough, the program is freely available to everybody to check out, and anybody has a fair chance to test it out how it works, looks and feel like, before committing to purchase. The very essence of what we know as shareware was designed for this purpose - for the benefit of the customers. If someone finds testing shareware version is too limiting for any valid reason, they can always contact me and ask for an evaluation license, many have.

Sadly enough, the concept of shareware has died out. I continue to believe it was a nice idea and had the right balance for both developers and customers, but unfortunately it was based on honesty and respect. As for the future of WhereIsIt, I still enjoy writing software and I'm interested in continuing to improve WhereIsIt, but not under the circumstances as they come to be today. How things will go with future versions starting with 3.50, and in what form they may be available remains to be seen, but for the time being I have no plans to release version 3.50 to public. Existing versions 3.2x will continue to be available and supported, for the sake of all those who do care and have supported WhereIsIt before, or wish to do so in the future.

Robert Galle

Addendum, June 11th 2002

Thank you to all of you who have dropped me a line of support, encouragement, and understanding. It is impossible to individually reply to all emails and questions received, there were over 700 in the last 24 hours, so here are a few quick FAQ-like answers: