Thread: Adding trial period to software

  1. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Mountaintop, Pa
    The software has been reviewed by the controller manufacturer and they have agreed to put out a press release in 1st quarter 2006 indicating that we are now connectivity partners.

    There has been a lot of interest to "try" the product before buying but actual sales have been minimal even though IMO the price is reasonable, $29.95 and there is a money back guarantee. Thus, the reason for the trial period software.

    This application originally started as a opensource freeware app on another technology forum. At that time, I was flooded with requests for all sorts of enhancements. The majority of the requests required a substantial investment on my part. For instance, CCTV video streaming was a major request. So, I spent close to $2,000 on CCTC cameras and hardware. Another requested enhancement is controlling whole house audio. If I were to take on this enhancement, then my out of pocket expense would be close to $4,000. Personally, I need a whole house audio system like I need a hole in the head. So, the only reason for selling the software is to cover my expenses. BTW, my product has 80% of the functionality of another commercially available product retailing at $250. My price $29.95. The only functionality that I don't have yet that the other guy has is the video streaming.

    Finally, I plan on querying the controller for the date and time. Most end users' are extremely reluctant about making any changes to the security controller. For instance, incorrectly changing a controller date may cause the controller to automatically dial 911 and report a break in in progress. That is, someone is in the house when they shouldn't be in the house. Example, security armed for Monday thru Friday 9 AM to 5 PM. User resets the date on Saturday to Monday and the controller IMMEDIATELY dials 911 because motion detectors identifies a person in the secured area. Also, changing dates would most probably wreak havoc on any automation tasks.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    hmm.. sounds like you wont have too much of a problem with people cracking your product that I would see. My thinking (though usually flawed) would lead me to believe that if someone has the $money$ to put into their home to install a system that uses this software, then they should have no problems with paying $30 to buy the software!

    if you lost even 1% sales over piracy it would be surprising...

    sounds like you have a quite a project.. good luck..

  3. #18
    Sr. Software Engineer filker0's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    West Virginia
    I agree with the folks who say that you should not devote too many resources to the prevention of people re-running the trial installation; however I do have a few suggestions on ways that I've seen for dealing with time-limited trials of expensive software packages:
    • Create a web-driven interface to obtain trial versions. The installation package that is then downloaded by the potential customer contains a generated license file that expires after a specific date. Re-installing the package does not change that date -- in order to continue using the product, an unlock or a trial license extension must be obtained. Digitally sign the license files and have a serial number for each trial package you provide that must match the license in order to be useable.
    • Store a timestamp periodically from within the application while it runs. This timestamp includes the device time (taken from one of the security devices), the time from the system on which the software is running, and a counter for how many times the timestamp has been updated. Use this timestamp at start-up to determine whether the clock has been changed; if it has, perform other checks.

    At all times, endevor to be graceful in how the application behaves when the trial period is about to end and when it ends. Never use system-modal dialogs to notify the user that the trial period is expiring. Don't leave the user unprotected at the end of the trial period, simply turn off most of the features. Even if you detect an attempt to circumvent the trial license limits, don't use wording that accuses the user of anything -- false positives can otherwise lead to some disgruntled potential users and bad word-of-mouth.
    Insert obnoxious but pithy remark here

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