This has been an interesting read and the topic appears to be going round and round with some very heated comments.
For my pennies worth I would not condon the pirating of software and I will 'NEVER' and have 'NEVER' paid full price for commercial software. What I do is spend a part of my time reading magazines, newspapers and web sites looking for bargains. Some of the great bargains I have managed to obtain in the past are:
1. Microsoft Office Pro 97 £50 (The company had bulk purchase the software and needed to get rid of it quickly.)
2. Microsoft Office Pro 2000 Update £25 (Directly from Microsoft themselves after proving that I had purchased a copy of Microsoft Office Pro 97 within the last few months.)
3. Microsoft XP Pro £130.
4. OneNote 2003 Free for Microsoft (Yes believe it. This was a thank you from Microsoft for taking part in one of their software reviews.)
Computer magazines are another great place to get your hands on some good software even when it is a year or more old. Within the magazine there is also quite often a discount on any full version purchases you make. If you register the software then you will also receive notification of any discounts that are announced by the software company, and these can be for over 50% off the original price. A recent discounted software is NetObjects Fusion 9 Standard. Its original price was around £190 and is now selling on their web site for approximately £130. I am sure that I received an email a few weeks ago offering it for even less.
If I cannot wait for a piece of software, or afford it, I then look at freeware or open source software where I have obtained NVu, OpenOffice, Gimp, Paint.NET, InkScape, Power Defragmenter, Blender, Picasa 2, etc but to name a few. While they are not the best on the web they do the tasks I require and more importantly they are FREE.
In a perfect world we would expect companies to look a all levels of our society and expect them to set a price based on our ability to pay. Unfortunately we do not live in that world but this one. Some companies provide an open source version and a commercial version while others supply demo versions. A good example of this is StarOffice and OpenOffice from SUN. Perhaps other companies could do the same but don't hold your breath.
I feel that companies could do more to reduce their prices for educational establishments which would get kids interested in the likes of 3D animation, graphic design, game design, etc while reducing the educational expendature. This was something that Microsoft introduced a few years ago when discovering that users once they become accustomed to using a piece of software continue to use that software throughout their lives.
Those that are unemployed or on low incomes, I feel, is not have a reason to be treated any differently to any other person in society. If they wish to have the best software then this should provide them with a urge to want to earn better wages. People who work and pay a mortgage, etc would have to save up for the software they need so why should the unemployed or those on low incomes be treated any differently? Holding a hand out for help is becoming more ingrained in our society; what happened to pride and making your own way in the world? Yes it is hard but it is worth all the trouble in the end when YOU can buy the software or hardware you desire when you want it.
Finally, companies could always reduce their prices and gain more customers but why should they. Yes most if not all software is vastly overpriced but who is at fault? I would suggest that it is the customer who is at fault. Why? Simple, because the customer is paying the price that the company demands. If everyone took their hands out of their pockets and said no to high prices then the companies would have to reduce their prices. This will never happen because there will always be those who want the latest bells and whistles NOW! So stop gripping about cost and a socialist state and become more proactive in forcing companies to lower their prices based on sound arguements which benefits them as much as it benefits YOU!