I regularly use three computers -- two desktops and a laptop (and I'm very tempted by the Asus Eee...). I don't think that's unusual these days. But for individuals with multiple PCs, software licences are a headache.
When I evaluate shareware these days, one of the first things I look at is the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA). And basically, if it's a single machine licence, I'm very unlikely to be interested, no matter how good the software is.
Of course, software developers can use whatever licence they wish. My main gripe is how difficult it can be to find out the licence details.
Two examples: I was interested in buying Backup4All Pro (http://www.backup4all.com/
), but to get the licence details, I had to download the help file PDF and wade through that. And yes, it's a single machine licence. So that would cost me $135 for my machines (excluding DC discount). That compares to my current software, SyncbackSE, which costs $30 for a licence that covers up to 5 PCs. Suddenly Backup4All is a non-runner.
I also recently trialled PageFour (http://www.softwareforwriting.com/
) , the (excellent) text editor aimed at writers. I went searching for the licence details. Not on the web site. Not in the help file. But I found it in the installation directory. And again it's a single machine licence. Which makes a reasonably-priced piece of software ($35) too expensive for me ($105).
In the case of PageFour, I was so impressed with the software that I emailed the author and asked him about the EULA. He was very positive, recognised the issue, and promised to look into changing it. I offered him the wording from the licence for Second Copy 2000 as an ideal model:
"One registered copy of Second Copy 2000 may either be used by a single
person who uses the software personally on one or more computers, or
installed on a single workstation used non-simultaneously by multiple
people, but not both."
Which seems just about perfect to me.
The reason for this long-winded post? To suggest there should be some kind of licence scheme where shareware sites have a prominent "badge" on the home page that indicates whether they offer a standard, flexible licence (modeled on something like the Second Copy licence) so that users don't have to waste time investigating the licence for every bit of software they test. Seems like common sense to me.