NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, April 2007
Giveaway of the Day
– Free Commercial Software and Games

By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host

(click to email author)

http://www.giveawayoftheday.com - Software
http://game.giveawayoftheday.com - Games

I am somewhat of a software junkie. I like to try new software titles. Software is distributed in a variety of ways, including freeware, demoware, shareware, and commercially. Freeware is software published and released where no payment is necessary, and there are many excellent freeware titles; some commercial companies give away old versions of their software, or offer “SE” (Special Edition), “LE” (Limited Edition), or advertising supported free software.

Demoware, also referred to as “trialware” is typically commercial (pay) software that is either crippled and may lack full functionality, but there are also fully functional but time limited (typically 14 to 30 days) trial programs. Shareware is usually fully functional software that can be freely exchanged or “shared”, and often has an honor based system which asks the user to register and pay for the software after a trial period. Commercial software is software that is sold, and a paid license is required in order to legally use it. All of the above genres fulfill an appropriate need, and have their respective place in personal computing.

There are many sources of downloadable software. The traditional download resources are richly endowed with a wide variety of freeware, shareware and trialware. Many commercial companies offer software downloads to licensed users, or after paying a registration fee. There are, of course, a multitude of illicit websites where pirated and illegal copies of software can be downloaded and used by software thieves. There is also a pair of websites where fully licensed commercial software can be legally downloaded for free; these websites are components of giveawayoftheday.com.

I first heard of giveawayoftheday.com on one of my cyber security email lists where someone asked about its legality, and a respondent commented that it was indeed real and legitimate. Giveawayoftheday.com does indeed give away a fully licensed copy of “software of the day” to anyone who wishes to download it, but there are some strings attached. First, each title is only available for free download for a single day (unless extended by the publisher), and must be installed that same day, by the deadline displayed on a real-time clock displayed on the website. Second, while the software is a fully licensed and legitimate copy, it is provided on an “as is” basis without any warranties. Since no revenue is generated by the user for the original publisher, there is no free technical support, no promise to upgrade to future versions for free, and the software can only be used for non-commercial purposes. A statement and logo on the giveawayoftheday website claims that the software is 100% free of spyware and adware.

In recent days, as I type this, the commercial software that has been offered for free included utilities, screen savers, graphics programs, audio and video (CD and DVD) editing and burning utilities, backup utilities, and a variety of other types. According to the giveaway website, the service is intended to acquaint users with lesser known commercial products with the hope that the user will utilize the software, and eventually pay for upgrades.

The mechanics of the website are simple. During the “day”, the user simply downloads and installs the software. The downloaded files are in the zip (compressed) format, which can be opened (uncompressed) natively by Windows XP, or by using any one of the many unzip utilities. In the downloaded file is an “activate” utility which goes online during the activation and licensing process, verifies that the date and time of activation is within the required “day”, and allows for the full function of the software. For those who need instructions on installing and activating the software, a text file is also included in the download with easy to follow instructions. It should be noted that the activated and registered software may indicate that it is licensed to “Give away of the day” and not to the individual user; this is explained on the website with the statement, “We will pay the software publisher for the Giveaway license”.

Many of us are also gamers, and enjoy playing the latest in computer games. Giveawayoftheday.com recently added a companion site, game.giveawayoftheday.com, where a similar procedure is followed, but the daily download is a game, rather than a utility. Recent commercial games distributed by “game” include racing games, puzzles, sci-fi shooters, children’s games, logic games, and several others.

On a daily basis, shortly after booting my computer and going online, one of the first places I visit is giveawayoftheday.com to see what is available “today”. For those who use RSS news utilities, such as My Yahoo and others, the daily listings are distributed by an RSS feed which can be easily added to the news page, making it very easy to see what is available without going directly to the website. Before actually downloading the software of interest, I peruse the online reviews and comments, which are prominently displayed on the website. Using a “thumbs up – thumbs down” rating system, it is easy to see what others who have already downloaded the software, have to say about it. If there is a predominately positive rating then I may consider downloading the program after reviewing the comments. Sometimes, however, the “thumbs down” are a significant percentage, including in a few recent cases where the negatives were a majority of the ratings; when this occurs I still may read the reviews, but am reluctant to download the software.

I have downloaded and installed a few gems from giveawayoftheday.com, and a few programs that I did not find helpful, which I subsequently uninstalled. At least since I downloaded the software for free, I suffered no financial loss when I decided not to use the software. These websites can be a good resource for those who like the best bargains of all, free.

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