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February '98 Reader Survey Results

The concept of shareware was conceived so long ago that most modern computer users can't even remember when they first came across this type of software. Today shareware has become so ubiquitous that it can be found on every continent, on every personal computing platform, and on nearly every computer.

Last month we were wondering if OS/2 users viewed shareware differently than other users. Before we could even begin to speculate, of course, we had to find out exactly how OS/2ers felt about shareware (the attitudes of non-OS/2ers are an even bigger task to gauge!). So in February we asked our readers about their "Support for Shareware".

Answers to our survey were accepted from February 16th until March 13th. We had a total of 1,389 replies to our questionnaire with 93 "spoiled" entries (replies were considered "spoiled" if they did not contain an e-mail address, if all questions were not answered or if they were duplicates). This left 1,296 valid replies. The results were as follows:

Do you use shareware on a regular basis?

Even more fundamental than how you use or abuse shareware is whether you use it at all. So this was our natural starting point. We found that, not surprisingly considering current trends in software distribution, almost everyone surveyed (95.9%) currently uses some shareware, with over half of those responding (50.5%) reporting they use 4 to 10 shareware apps. No big surprises here.

Do you register shareware if you keep it?

After verifying that we were indeed dealing with bona fide shareware users, we asked if you register the packages you "keep". As most people know, shareware comes with a license that stipulates you may use the package for a set period, after which, if you feel you would like to continue using it, you must purchase (aka "register") it.

Do you or don't you? Well, according to your survey replies, most of you are mostly honourable when it comes to shareware. The largest group in this category (34.1%) told us they register everything they continue to use past the trial period (bravo!) and nearly three quarters (74.7%) reported they registered at least 51% of what they keep. Overall, a fairly trustworthy bunch.

Of course, there were the 50 people (3.9% of our respondents) who admitted they never register anything -- whether they keep it or not...

Are you more likely or less likely to register OS/2 shareware (compared to other platforms)?

Probably the question most pondered by OS/2 developers is whether they can count on the honesty of OS/2 consumers any more than usual because of the special conditions in the OS/2 market. We would all like to believe that a group of users as dedicated as we all are would put our money where our mouths are. Yet some developers have complained that this is not the case.

Our survey found that, in fact, OS/2 users are more loyal to OS/2 developers than they are to developers for other platforms. More than half (50.3%) said they were much more likely to register an OS/2 app than a non-OS/2 app, and 70.7% were at least a little more likely to do so. If you add the 14.0% of our readers who reported they don't even use any non-OS/2 shareware, you have 84.7% of our readers who would be more likely to leave their money with an OS/2 developer than a developer for Windows, the Mac, BeOS, Linux, etc.

How do you prefer to register shareware?

But the desire to pay for the software we use is only half the equation. We also need to be able to get our dollars into developers' pockets in the easiest way possible. We all know that sometimes we put off registering (or forget to altogether) because of the inconvenience of writing a cheque or converting currencies. So we wondered exactly what the most convenient payment methods were for our readers.

And, of course, the credit card leads the way. Almost three quarters (71.3%) of us prefer to make our shareware purchases by credit card, either by phone, email, fax or the WWW. What is surprising about this number is that the majority of us (53.5%) actually prefer to use the WWW to make our purchases, beating out email by ten to one (5.4%) and even telephone by more than five to one (9.6%). Obviously we are leaving the days of credit card fraud worries behind us and embracing the idea of secure servers.

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That's it for this month. Don't forget to fill out this month's questionnaire and check back in March for complete results. Also, this month we have a special survey on how we can improve OS/2 e-Zine!. Please tell us what you want!


Complete February '98 Survey Results

Do you use shareware on a regular basis?

I have never used shareware10.1%
I have used shareware but not currently524.0%
I use 1 - 3 shareware programs27621.3%
I use 4 - 10 shareware programs65450.5%
I use 11 - 20 shareware programs21816.8%
I use 21 or more shareware programs957.3%
I can't remember00.0%
I don't understand the question00.0%

Do you register shareware if you keep it?

I have never used shareware50.4%
I never register what I keep503.9%
I register 1 to 25 percent of what I keep14611.3%
I register 26 to 50 percent of what I keep1239.5%
I register 51 to 75 percent of what I keep20015.4%
I register 76 to 99 percent of what I keep32625.2%
I register all shareware that I keep44234.1%
I don't know40.3%
I don't understand the question00.0%

Are you more likely or less likely to register OS/2 shareware (compared to other platforms)?

I never use OS/2 shareware40.3%
I never use non-OS/2 shareware18214.0%
I never use any shareware10.1%
A little less likely40.3%
Less likely70.5%
Much less likely70.5%
About the same16412.7%
A little more likely483.7%
More likely21716.7%
Much more likely65250.3%
I'm not sure60.5%
I don't understand the question40.3%

How do you prefer to register shareware?

I do not register shareware131.0%
Using a credit card (by WWW)69453.5%
Using a credit card (by email)705.4%
Using a credit card (by telephone)1249.6%
Using a credit card (by fax)362.8%
Using cheque or money order18514.3%
Using cash282.2%
I have no preference1058.1%
I don't understand the question10.1%


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