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Last post Author Topic: RANT: High Software Prices!  (Read 34757 times)

Nudel

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #75 on: April 21, 2007, 06:27:54 PM »
Quote from: mouser
In other words, imagine the case of photoshop.  Ideally, as long as they don't have to provide you with support, they aren't negatively effected if 30,000 high schoolers have pirated copies of photoshop and learn how to use it.  In fact it helps them by establishing a more dominant user base and trained users who may eventually buy the program.  But they can't "officially" give out those copies of photoshop or charge $5 for them, because they need to be able to charge the pros $500 for it.
Although it may have been one bloke who thought of this on his own, and not Adobe's company policy or whatever, I have heard a story about an Adobe trainer going to a university media course to show people how to use Adobe's stuff who also showed them where to get pirate copies. (I heard this from a friend who was in the training session. I've heard similar stories second hand, too.) Clearly it is in Adobe's interests for people who can't afford their stuff to use it anyway and they seem aware of it. (As are Microsoft judging by their recent quote.)

Ignoring Adobe's interests, though, I think that if you can't afford Photoshop then you should use something else. Use something free if you want or buy something cheap. Hopefully by supporting the cheaper products they will get better and better, which is good for everyone (except Adobe).

That said, I can afford Photoshop and the last time I checked (which was many years ago) all of the alternatives were horrible. I don't like having warez on my machine now that I'm a working man rather than a kid/student with no money, so I still bought Photoshop.

That brings up another idea: Should software should be free for kids and students? I don't know how they would prove their age/status or how it would be enforced, nor what would happen when they grew up and all their programs became illegal (maybe they could keep them but upgrades would cost full price). I just remember being a kid who couldn't afford to buy everything but still loved playing around with computers and powerful software. I guess there's more free/open-source stuff for kids to mess around with now, and they've got the free time to really get into that stuff, so maybe things are different to when I was growing up.

If kids should get free/cheap software, should poor people? Should software cost a percentage of your income? Heh. Actually, why is this question even about software and not about products and prices in general? If only money more accurately reflected what a person deserves.

Over the last nine years, since I graduated, pretty much everyone I've worked with has been fairly well off. Not talking in particular about where I'm working right now (although it has happened once or twice there, too), but it really bugs me when I hear people boasting in the office about how they've got a pirate copy of XYZ or modded their console so they can download games or whatever. These people could buy all of that stuff legitimately without any lifestyle hit whatsoever and it's made even worse by the fact that we're all writing/supporting software for a living just like those they're ripping off. (Nobody can pirate the software I/we write at work because it's custom software that's only of use to our company. I'm guessing people's attitudes to piracy would be different if we were working for a commercial software house.)

It's like people forget why they're nicking stuff and, once they're able to afford to buy things properly, they don't realise it's time to change their ways and support the people who make the software/games they use and enjoy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not an anti-pirate nazi who would shop his mother to FAST or FACT or ACT or FAT FIST F**ERS or whatever they're called now; it just offends me that well-off people can be so proud about gratuitously ripping off fellow software developers. Sure, I modded my own Xbox for music/video playback in the lounge -- XBMC rocks -- and, even though I thought I wouldn't, I ended up downloading a couple of games since it was so easy and there were some I wanted to try but wasn't sure enough about to buy. In the end I never got around to even trying most of the stuff I downloaded. Not surprising since I wasn't *that* interested in those titles, by definition. The things that I tried and liked I bought, though, just like I bought Doom 3 for the PC even though I had already finished a pirate copy of the game two weeks before its UK release. (There was no way I was going to hold off downloading a copy when everyone in the USA was talking about it but fair was fair and Id/Activision still got my money.)

Quote from: Nosh
How would you account for Linux then? What about Gimp, Open Office, Azureus, Utorrent?
Azureus and Utorrent aren't big/complex enough to be sold commercially, IMO, especially with so many other good, free and almost identical programs for doing the same job.

Open Office is one of the examples of what I mentioned where a free/open program was created and funded by a company with an agenda. (In this case, Sun, wanting to eat into Microsoft's Office market share. Sure, people can now contribute changes but the suite wouldn't exist at all if Sun hadn't paid full-time people to write Star Office.)

Linux and The Gimp are indeed examples of complex, powerful free software from an open-source model, where (as far as I know) lots of people have managed to collaborate and be organised enough to build something that competes with commercial products (to some degree). There aren't many other examples, though, at least that I know of. Perhaps, with stuff like Ubuntu, Linux is even showing signs that it has people willing to turn a large, powerful open-source product into something user-friendly and polished. I don't personally like The Gimp but maybe it's another example (I'm not familiar enough with it to have a fair opinion, I just found it a bit weird, not just compared to Photoshop but compared to what I expect from a GUI app on Windows).

My point wasn't that it never happens but that it's rare and I don't see any signs that it's going to become so common that commercial software ceases to exist. For a complex program to be polished and commercial quality someone usually has to get paid to do the boring stuff, if not just because it's boring then because it takes a lot of time and effort which people don't have if they're busy doing something else to earn a living. Polish needs consistency and it's difficult for lots of people contributing small individual efforts to pull it off. Linux is now popular enough that, to use a bad analogy, so much shit's being thrown at it that the good bits will stick (even if it takes years and years to happen), plus lots of people are paid to work on Linux full-time by companies that make money from Linux in other ways. I might be wrong but I think Linux is pretty unique example.

Of course, it goes without saying that commercial software isn't necessarily good, powerful or polished. One example proves this all by itself: <SPIT> Lotus Notes <SPIT>

zridling

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #76 on: April 22, 2007, 01:10:29 AM »
[Nudel]: Open Office is one of the examples of what I mentioned where a free/open program was created and funded by a company with an agenda. (In this case, Sun, wanting to eat into Microsoft's Office market share. Sure, people can now contribute changes but the suite wouldn't exist at all if Sun hadn't paid full-time people to write Star Office.)
________________________________________________
Not sure where you got this. First, Microsoft gave Sun $150 million and then another $1.6 billion just to use Java in Windows, among other patents from 2002-04. Second, StarOffice could never threaten MS Office since its open source replicate, OpenOffice is far more prevalent on desktops than StarOffice. Third, Sun didn't create StarOffice, they bought the company and re-engineered a good bit of the code through most of the 1990s.

Nudel, you seem to have a hostility toward open source software. Is there a reason why? Is it because of open standards (e.g,. OASIS OpenDocument (ODF) format) perhaps? which:
  • Promote interoperability among products made by different vendors and software providers.
  • Drive competition in the marketplace thereby increasing product innovation and quality while lowering prices.
  • Provide customers with a greater choice of applications and providers.
  • Level the playing field, giving no clear advantage to any player unless they happen to provide a superior product at a lower cost, regardless of their current marketshare.

Clearly no one would possibly want any of these things!  :huh: While I agree many open source apps lack the polish of an Adobe app, but understand that most open source software is targeted to do one (or a few) thing really well and just work. Function takes priority over form. Linux distros like Ubuntu, Freespire, Xandros, and Fedora Core have overcome this for the most part. OpenOffice might not exist without Sun releasing it under the GPL, but StarOffice would. As you suggest, instead of people proudly ripping off big commercial software despite the issue of affordability, it's better instead to [conscientiously] use an open source alternative.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2007, 01:19:29 AM by zridling »

Nudel

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #77 on: April 22, 2007, 06:17:19 AM »
First, Microsoft gave Sun $150 million and then another $1.6 billion just to use Java in Windows, among other patents from 2002-04.
What on earth has that got to do with OpenOffice?

Quote from: zridling
Second, StarOffice could never threaten MS Office since its open source replicate
Why does it being open source mean it cannot threaten MS Office? Firefox threatens Internet Explorer and it is open source. Being open or closed source doesn't have a large effect on success, IMO; having a full-time team of developers is the most important thing. What I've been saying through this thread is that very few free products have full-time development teams and those that do tend to be funded by a company with an agenda. Agendas are not necessarily bad. I'm just saying that it is rare for a company to want to make money by giving something substantial away and your FireFoxes and OpenOffices (and Internet Explorers) are the exceptions, not the rules.

Quote from: zridling
OpenOffice is far more prevalent on desktops than StarOffice.
You are aware that OpenOffice is based on StarOffice, right? My point was that OpenOffice would not exist had Sun not funded the development of StarOffice. Nothing more, nothing less.

Quote from: zridling
Third, Sun didn't create StarOffice, they bought the company and re-engineered a good bit of the code through most of the 1990s.
True, but it's also true that StarOffice was closed-source and proprietary before Sun bought it, and the company that made it, in 1999. My point still stands: It is rare for an open-source and free product to be  large, complex and polished, and when one is it is almost always because it has been funded by a company with an agenda.

From Wikipedia:
OpenOffice.org is based on StarOffice, an office suite developed by StarDivision and acquired by Sun Microsystems in August 1999. The source code of the suite was released in July 2000 with the aim of reducing the dominant market share of Microsoft Office by providing a free, open and high-quality alternative. OpenOffice.org is free software, available under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).


Quote from: zridling
Nudel, you seem to have a hostility toward open source software. Is there a reason why?
I have no hostility whatsoever towards open source software as a concept. If I appear to then you've got me wrong. I write my own open-source software in my spare time so it would be very odd for me to be against it.

My point is purely that open-source and/or free software is unlikely to ever replace commercial software in general because of the reasons I've already argued.

OSS/free software compliments commercial software. There are loads of great open and/or free utilities that I wouldn't want to be without but we all (in general) still need the big, complex, powerful and (if anyone beyond die-hard geeks is going to use them) polished products as well as those things. Yes, there are some open/free products which fit those criteria, but they are exceptions and I don't think that will become the rule because you need to pay people to work on things full-time to get those things.

Quote from: zridling
Is it because of open standards (e.g,. OASIS OpenDocument (ODF) format) perhaps?
WTF would I be against open standards? You're putting words in my mouth and going off on a tangent based on completely wild assumption. Stop it.

FYI, I ***HATE*** the fact that MS Office uses closed file formats. Have you any idea how much of my life I have spent trying to create a reliable viewer for Office formats? In fact, I hate MS Office in general. I think it's a badly written pile of crap that should be scrapped and started again from scratch. (Don't get me wrong. Office is great for general users but when it's your day-job to write code which interacts with Office, or your hobby to write things which try to view office files outside of office, you will quickly learn to despise it. On top of that, Office is responsible for Variants and Visual Basic in general, two crimes against computer science in my book. No, I do not like MS Office at all.

Quote from: zridling
While I agree many open source apps lack the polish of an Adobe app, but understand that most open source software is targeted to do one (or a few) thing really well and just work.
That's along the lines of what I am trying to say!

Quote from: zridling
OpenOffice might not exist without Sun releasing it under the GPL, but StarOffice would.
Witout Sun releasing it under the GPL it wouldn't even be part of this discussion for completely obvious reasons.

Quote from: zridling
As you suggest, instead of people proudly ripping off big commercial software despite the issue of affordability, it's better instead to [conscientiously] use an open source alternative.
I agree, where there is a reasonable alternative. For many things there still isn't.

nosh

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #78 on: April 22, 2007, 09:45:27 AM »
Quote
My point wasn't that it never happens but that it's rare and I don't see any signs that it's going to become so common that commercial software ceases to exist.

You seem to have substantially changed your stand now. Either you're extremely naive or you're simply in denial if you think good freeware that does more than one or two things is a rare commodity. I could give you a list of top notch freeware apps on my system that are as good as or better than any commercially available software.

Azureus and Utorrent are damn good programs that perform complex tasks and perform them well. They are not too simple to be sold commercially. That category of software is already dominated by freeware and commercial stuff doesn't even stand a chance. I can see a lot of people shelling out good money for sturdy P2P clients had they not already been free. The same story is repeated in the web browser category.

I wouldn't categorize Firefox as a simple software that just does one or two things either, it's the most used app on a lot of PCs.

Go to any freeware site and you'll see tons of apps in any given category. At least a bunch of these are going to give commercial ware a tough time in the future! 

I'm sure a lot of folks on this forum will be able to mention great free IDEs that they use for developement. Is a program that compiles code and creates executables a simple app by your definition? No? Is it just another exception then? Wait a sec! We're seeing quite a few exceptions here... maybe it's the rule rather than the exception.   

There will always be commercially available software in the foreseeable future but there will also be a strong free alternative hot on its tail. The only way commercial software can stay ahead is to steadily improve in quality or to slash their prices. I see the technology/quality gap narrowing so there's only one way for the prices to go. 

Renegade

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #79 on: April 22, 2007, 11:48:18 AM »
1. Too many really good posts here to respond to.

2. Limited time - must keep short.

3. I want to address fairness and compassion.

This discussion about photoshop has got me thinking more about some of my feelings on these high end programs.  I sometimes work with academic software, which has similar insane pricing schemes (go price matlabl).

Part of what makes people turn to piracy is when a company prices its products for one rich market, and prices it out of range of normal people, for the sole purpose of keeping the people who can afford it from paying less.

In other words, imagine the case of photoshop.  Ideally, as long as they don't have to provide you with support, they aren't negatively effected if 30,000 high schoolers have pirated copies of photoshop and learn how to use it.  In fact it helps them by establishing a more dominant user base and trained users who may eventually buy the program.  But they can't "officially" give out those copies of photoshop or charge $5 for them, because they need to be able to charge the pros $500 for it.  So we are left in this strange situation where companies are officially fighting to keep the program out of the hands of people who can't afford it, just so they can extract high dollars out of the people who can.  This is the kind of thing that makes me long for the day when we can all pay what we think a program is worth to us (i know it's not going to happen im just saying).

in general i guess i evaluate companies and get a feeling for if i think they are trying to jack up their prices and update charges in order to maximize profits with no real "love" of their customers.  i want to support companies which balance making a profit with having happy users.  show me a company trying to bleed their users dry to squeeze the last drop of potential profits, and i'll show you a company whose users are looking for an excuse to jump ship.

If anyone is interested, go have a read on the licenses that I write. I believe that they are pretty much what mouser is writing about there (in a round about way). Fairness. Upgrades are free as well (as long as it's possible to do so). http://renegademinds.com - my personal site, and http://www.altools.net - the dayjob. Software should be available and easy. As developers (and software marketers) it's our duty to serve our customers and users.

To sell software to an American and then sell it to someone living in China... Well... I need to charge Americans more. I also need to charge the Chinese less.

If you don't agree with me... you. When you make $100 per month, it's not easy to spend $50 on software. When you make $4000 per month, it's a lot easier to spend $50.

Not everyone has a car. Not everyone has all the perks that so many of us in the developed world have. To ask that someone that makes what I spit on for a piece of software is just cruel. It's called having some sense of generosity and compassion.

At the moment our ability to respond to these issues (as software manufacturers) is limited, and only the larger manufacturers really have the means to do so (this is a major problem facing software authors and not easily addressed - that's another discussion entirely). But to begrudge someone that lives in poverty and is fortunate enough to actually HAVE A COMPUTER is just cruel.

Stealing is wrong. Piracy is stealing. Piracy is wrong. If you can't afford it, don't buy it and don't steal it. If you can't afford Photoshop, use the Gimp. If you can't afford Windows, use Linux. Period.

I'm not really buying this line of reasoning across the board.

Pricing is situational. Just around the corner from my house I see Mercedez cars, BMWs, and Bentleys. These people can afford to pay for software. I can also travel a few hours from where I live and see people in complete and total squallor with literally nothing. If they "steal" from me, my cost is virtually nothing.

I have SO MUCH compared to so many people and for me to begrudge them an amount of money that I literally wipe my ass with is just purely greedy and inhuman. For me to be so selfish that I actually care about what I routinely waste?

Give me a break.

We're talking about software here. The cost for me to get my products to these people is virtually nothing.

How can I possibly begin to accuse people of theft there?

It's got to do with a matter of scale and resources. On my resource scale I can spend $50 and not bat an eye. For some people, that's a weeks wages! (Ahem... Like mouser said... WHAT IS IT WORTH TO YOU!)

Now... If you live in a developed country, then there's no excuse. You can afford my prices and what I'm asking for my software. If you're stealing, then you're stealing. Period. Agreed there.

This is a complex issue and there are real problems in solving it.

But it's just not right for us as software authors in the developed world to complain about fractions of a cent. That's being miserly and greedy in a very obscene and (almost) evil way.

I am not condoning Adobe's behaviour. I am not endorsing any particular licensing scheme. I am endorsing being compassionate and fair to PEOPLE.

Ok - Rant over. :)
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GHammer

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #80 on: April 22, 2007, 11:58:47 AM »
Quote
Carol Haynes: anything under £1/litre is cheap in .dk at the moment.

I realise that other EU states also have a bad time of petrol prices but I didn't realise Denmark had got that bad!

Always makes me laugh when I hear Americans whinge on about expensive gas - simple solution get rid of the 6 litre V8 4x4 SUV and buy a 50cc motorbike  ;) - or even better a pushbike ... that'll get you fit too!
I always laugh when I hear others complain about this or that in America. If your country sucks, move. The US pays more for oil than any other country. What's the military budget for Britain for instance? Just because the price is not on the pump doesn't mean it is not paid.

GHammer

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #81 on: April 22, 2007, 12:26:29 PM »
I live in China. Nobody pays for software here. Well, ok, maybe someone but I have yet to meet them.
Companies, Universities, Government offices. All have Windows, all have Office. All are 'registered' to Bill Gates.
Is it because China is a poor developing country? Naaah, China has 1 trillion (that's a lot in layman's terms!) dollars in foreign reserves.

It's because nobody can make anyone here pay. What, the US is going to stop imports of cheap shoes and shirts? Ha ha ha!
Why, oh why would anyone pay for software when they can run it for free? When your competitors don't pay? When there is no penality?

Many software houses have differential pricing. I can but Kaspersky, for example, cheaper here than in the UK/US/Germany. Why? Mind you I like having cheaper prices, but it seems unfair to those in the higher price countries. Are they subsidizing my price?

What I DO mind is the price of specialized utilities. I've seen $29.95 MP3 taggers. They don't even do other formats, just MP3. Seems a bit excessive. Same for backup software. While $60.00 may not be a lot to a company, it is a fair piece of change to me. A good example is ThumbsPlus picture viewer. $49.95 for standard, $89.95 for Pro, $129.95 for a 'perpetual' Pro license. No such option for the standard license. So, is it justifiable to pay $129.95 or to use something like FastStone Image Viewer for free?
At $29, maybe $39 I'd use ThumbsPlus. So the pricing lost them a customer. Of course they can lose 6 at my price for every one at their price.

In all, if I total the cost of the software on my system it exceeds the cost of the hardware. Personally, I have taken to asking for a discount if I really want a certain app. You'd be surprised how many thoughful developers there are. I appreciate them making it possible for me to run legal versions of their software.

For the Adobe and Microsoft types, I'm refuse to upgrade past my versions. They do what I want, I'm extremely familar with them, I don't see the value in the current upgrades.

Value, that's what it comes down to for me. Is it subjective? Yep. But it is less and less frequent in the commercial software world. More often found in the shareware arena. Surprisingly I find few freeware/open source apps that I keep.

Nudel

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #82 on: April 22, 2007, 01:02:30 PM »
Quote
My point wasn't that it never happens but that it's rare and I don't see any signs that it's going to become so common that commercial software ceases to exist.

You seem to have substantially changed your stand now.

I don't think I've changed my stance at all. Re-read what I said originally:

Quote from: Nudel
I'm not sure there will ever be a collision between free and commercial software. Free software tends to be very small, simple programs that don't get significantly updated often and only do one or two simple things. That isn't bad, I use and love a lot of those programs and I've written and given away several myself, but when someone wants to make something really good, polished and powerful it soon turns into a full-time job. There's only so much you can do in your spare time. At that point you've got to start earning money from your software or the harsh realities of our capitalist world will swallow you up and spit you out.

(What really does annoy me is when people do try to sell those small, simple, spare-time software products. It seems cheap to me and, even if it's more costly to me personally in terms of my time vs my money, I'd rather write my own version of a small tool than pay someone money for something that only took them a day to write. Usually there's some other tool that'll do the same job for free, and that's alright.)

There are some very good, polished and powerful free programs but they're exceptions, IMO. They're also often funded by large companies with an agenda of killing off other products in the market.

If I seem to have changed stance then please explain why and I'll either admit my mistake or explain what I meant, but I don't think I've done any such thing.

Quote from: Nosh
Either you're extremely naive or you're simply in denial if you think good freeware that does more than one or two things is a rare commodity. I could give you a list of top notch freeware apps on my system that are as good as or better than any commercially available software.

Azureus and Utorrent are damn good programs that perform complex tasks and perform them well.

Downloading BitTorrents is hardly what I would consider a complex task. Both those programs do one thing and do it well. (At least, uTorrent and BitComet do it well. I have not used Azureus.)

Quote
I wouldn't categorize Firefox as a simple software that just does one or two things either, it's the most used app on a lot of PCs.

I never said Firefox was simple and I've said multiple times now that Firefox is one of the exceptions that has full-time employees working on it. Have you actually been reading what I have said, or are you just skimming it and posting a reaction to what you think I've said?

Quote from: Nosh
I'm sure a lot of folks on this forum will be able to mention great free IDEs that they use for developement.

I take it you're talking about Eclipse? IBM funded its development originally and even now it's still funded by a consortium of companies who stand to gain from there being a good, free tool in this area. It isn't something written in someone's spare time for free; people get paid to write it and my point is that that is unusual.

Quote from: Nosh
Is it just another exception then? Wait a sec! We're seeing quite a few exceptions here... maybe it's the rule rather than the exception.

If you want to argue that it's not that unusual then that's fair enough and I guess we just see things differently or are concentrating on different products which matter more to each of us. My opinion is that these "free but funded" projects are unusual, and are not going to extend into every area of computing, because there are only certain things where a company gains an advantage from funding something that they then give away free.

Maybe you are arguing that that such funding of free/open products is actually an inevitable result of competition and/or monopolies and something that will become the norm. If so, that's something I hadn't really thought about until now, and it's an interesting idea that's well worth discussing. You might be right there, eventually, although I think it is very hard to predict and there will likely be many areas where no company does such a thing.

If, on the other hand, you are arguing that people are going to write worthy replacements for all the existing big and good commercial products in their spare time at the weekends then I find that highly unlikely, based on my own experiences of trying to write code in my spare time and on what I've seen produced by others. The big and good free stuff has funding behind it.



Let's look at the stuff I use regularly on my own PC, pretty much in the order they are in my apps toolbar:

Directory Opus: Shareware/commercial. No free/open file manager comes close. (IMO no commercial one does either, but that's clearly a matter of opinion and personal preferences.)

Firefox: Free, but funded by two or three large companies with the agenda of preventing Microsoft from "owning the web".

Windows Mail: Free (with Windows), but given away by MS. MS have several items on their agenda here: To promote their OS. To stop people using someone else's mail client. To make it easier to upgrade to a non-free MS mail client. (I used Thunderbird 1.5 (free but funded) for a while but I got sick of certain bugs and, apart from the spellchecker which I miss, I never saw much difference between Thunderbird and Outlook Express (now called Windows Mail in Vista). I'm tempted to try Thunderbird 2.0 that just came out as I believe some of the problems I had with 1.5 are no longer an issue, but I'm sick of moving my mail back and forth between formats, to be honest. I don't need a more complex mail client so I stick with a free one.)

TextPad: Shareware/commercial. (I haven't tried every other editor but I've tried a lot of them and most of them suck, IMO. The editors that don't suck seem to other shareware/commercial ones, although ScinTilla has potential (but has also not yet spawned an editor that I actually liked). The other commercial editors might be better than TextPad now but they don't seem to add enough features that I care about to make it worth my while buying them, configuring them and getting used to them. TextPad has flaws (mainly the lack of Unicode support) but is generally very good at what I need it for so I've stuck with it.)

mIRC: Shareware/commercial. (mIRC also has flaws, like the options dialog that's straight out of 1985, but since it gained multi-server support several years ago it is undoutedly the best IRC client by a long shot, unless there's one I haven't tried. The others don't even feel like Betas.)

KeePass: Free/donation. Does one particular job well.

NewsLeecher: Shareware/commercial. Does one particular job well. This is one where I'm surprised there isn't a free tool that's as good, but it's so much better than the free alternatives that it was well worth the small price.

uTorrent: Free. Does one particular job well.

PuTTY: Free. Does one particular job well.

Remote Desktop: Comes with the OS, but does cost extra since you can only host RDP from Pro/Business/Ultimate versions of the OS, so safe to say it's commercial.

Virtual PC: Used to be commercial. Free now. Not open. Free because MS and VMWare are competing with each other in the high-end VM space by giving away their  products in the low-end VM space. (I know VMWare is supposed to be better, but all I want to do is run a web browser in a VM and VPC seems to use a lot less memory and doesn't install lots of services and other stuff. I've tried both and prefer VPC for my particular needs.)

Photoshop/ImageReady: Commercial. The Gimp seems to be the only free alternative and I didn't like it last time I tried it.

Media Center: Commercial. There are some free products in this area which sound okay but are not as good IMO (e.g. you have to keep a client app open else your TV won't get recorded, while MC has a recording service that works so long as the PC is booted), unless you want to look at running Linux (which isn't an option for me and PVR software on Linux isn't something I know enough about to have an opinion).

Media Player Classic: Free and open. Does one particular job very, very well.

foobar2000: Ditto.

Exact Audio Copy: Ditto.

iTunes: Commercial. Sucks. But gives me gapless playback and games on my iPod. (Two things that are also delivered by the Rockbox firmware which is a very impressive effort and something I was very glad existed when it was the only way to get gapless playback on hardware with a good amount of storage. But also, IMO, an example of something where people work on what they feel like for fun without concerning themselves too much about what "needs" to be done to make it a really polished, user-friendly and "complete" product that you don't have to be a geek to use.)

Acronis TrueImage: Shareware/Commercial. The only alternative I know of is Ghost which is also commercial. This is something I could see being developed by an open-source team, though, so maybe one day.

ImgBurn: Free. Does one thing well. (I miss stuff from Nero and would happily pay money for Nero again if it hadn't become ultra-bloated (VoIP in a CD burning suite!? WTF!?!?!?!?). Sadly, only the ultra-bloated Nero supports Vista so I have ditched the product.)

Visual Studio: Commercial. Rocks. Yes, there's Eclipse, but VS is still best for C++ and C# which are the languages I care about. (To be honest I wasn't a big fan of Eclipse when I started writing Java again for 6 months of 2006 but Eclipse isn't a bad program, I guess. Either way, Eclipse is/was funded.)

Process Monitor / Process Explorer: Free. Do one thing each very well. (Owned by MS now, FWIW.)

Resource Hacker: Free. Does one thing well.

Inno Setup: Free. Does one thing well.

Axialis IconWorkshop: Shareware/commercial. Best tool for creating icons I've seen. I'm not aware of another commercial tool that works anywhere near as well, let alone a free one. It is the kind of tool that could be written by spare-time developers, though, I expect.

TechSmith Camtasia: Commercial. Camtasia isn't without fault but it is good. There are more expensive products in this space but they didn't seem to justify the extra price. The free screen/video-capturing apps I tried were all crap.

WindowClippings: The basic 1.5 version was free. Now 2.0 is on the way and is going to cost money, so that the guy behind it can justify the amount of time he's spending on it. It'll only be $10 though so I'll be buying 2.0 as soon as it's ready. Does a bunch of things that other screen grabbing apps don't do, although it works both ways as TechSmith's GrabIt also has a few features which WC is missing. (GrabIt is also 4x the price.)

Various games which are irrelevant I guess, but all commercial.

Messenger: Free but funded by MS to attack/obtain the market share of other IM clients. I'm not a big fan of IM -- I wish everyone I talked to was on IRC FFS -- so I'd never pay for an IM client, but having just Messenger seems to let me talk to everyone I know who isn't on IRC so I put up with it.

NOD32: Shareware/commercial anti-virus. The only free products in this space that I'm aware of are limited versions of commercial products, I assume released as marketing (like the idea of Adobe giving Photoshop away free so people recommend it at work, sort of) or to stop you going to the competition. Maybe there's a free, unfunded anti-virus tool that I don't know of but if so then I'd wonder how they guarantee quality and response time without paying people full-time. Perhaps it could be done, with enough keen volunteers.

That's quite a mixture but the trend seems to be that the free stuff I use only does one or two things and the stuff I've paid for tends to be big and complex and unlikely to be replaced by something free any time soon. (There are exceptions, like NewsLeecher and IconWorkshop, which I can imagine being replaced by a free tool one day. And there's the stuff like Firefox and Virtual PC which are free but are given away by companies with agendas.) I'm just a geek, too. I don't even have Office installed at the moment (haven't bothered since I moved to a new PC), or an accounting package, CAD software or whatever else someone might need to do their work. (I guess Photoshop and Visual Studio are my main, big "work" programs.)

I'll state my point again: Big, complex, polished open/free replacements of all current commercial software is unlikely because it needs funding, and funding only happens when some company has an agenda that is served by giving away software that they pay to be created.

Nudel

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #83 on: April 22, 2007, 01:37:56 PM »
Now... If you live in a developed country, then there's no excuse. You can afford my prices and what I'm asking for my software. If you're stealing, then you're stealing. Period. Agreed there.
Playing devil's advocate, what about someone who is in a developed nation but has chosen to do a low-paying job? (Or can't get a high-paying job.) They might work just as hard as someone else who earns more. They might be working on things that will really benefit their fellow man, which often don't pay as well as things that will benefit the 5 rich guys on the golf course who own everything. (The "payment" isn't in money but the satisfaction of making a difference, but that doesn't buy you much software or anything else in this world.)

To me, it comes down to much more than software. The problem with the world is that we have a system where the value of someone's work is defined only by the people with money. Capitalism means that, in general, if you don't have enough money to pay someone else to do something then what you want to happen doesn't matter, even if a billion other people in the same situation want the same thing. (Unless you can do it yourself or convince enough other people to do it with you, which is hard for some things, and I'm not talking about specifically software here.) On top of that, most of the people (or corporations) with significant wealth and influence are the least worthy of having either and the least suitable to decide what the rest of the planet should do with their lives.

It's not what's right or wrong, worthy or pointless. What is considered valuable in our world is not what will benefit humanity the most but, sadly, purely what a few really rich guys want to happen. Yeah, okay, it isn't really that simple and maybe a lot of it is inevitable but I think there's a lot of truth to it and it makes me sad and frustrated.

Going back to software, and what you said, I totally agree that it is basically cruel to prevent someone in a developing country from having something you can give them for free and which they would never have been able to afford. (Although you could argue that a "developed world" developer giving away his thing for free to "developing world" customers makes it impossible for someone else in the developing world to earn a living from making and selling a similar product aimed and priced at his fellow people. The cool thing about software is, provided you can afford some hardware a few tools and the time, anyone can write it and if someone in China has those things then there is nothing stopping him making a program as good as what someone in the USA or Europe makes. They could even sell it to customers in the USA/Europe at prices which massively undercut other developers, and still earn a very good standard of living. Is that fair on the other developers? Now they're being undercut by people whose costs are lower than it is possible to achieve where they live and they're forced out of business or forced to move to the developing world... On the one hand, the guys in the developing world deserve a break; on the other, the guys in the developed world can't compete and are screwed. You could argue that everyone in the developed world is holding the rest of the world down and it's payback time, or you could argue that most people in the developed world have nothing against anyone else. Even if the governments they elect are more than happy to exploit and keep down the rest of the world, most people don't even realise it's happening let alone explicitly vote for it to happen, so is it fair for them to lose their jobs because someone else in another part of the world can afford to do them cheaper?

I don't know, to be honest! I think that eventually things will even out around the world but I don't know how long that will take, nor how much the developing world's income and standard of living will increase and how much the developed world's will decrease. Maybe we'll all become extinct due to global warming before that happens anyway.

The more I think about the way the world works the less it makes sense!

app103

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #84 on: April 22, 2007, 02:53:33 PM »
I just realized something...

With the exception of about 2-3 programs, everything I have on this pc is either more than 5 years old, free, open source, donationware, or payware I got free by legal means (won it or gift or came with pc), or something I wrote myself.

I have Office 97...who uses that any more? I can't afford a newer version. And I wouldn't use it enough to get my money's worth out of it even if I could afford it. So on this pc, when the need to use something like that came up, I downloaded Open Office, because the MS Works that came with the pc failed at opening a file properly.

I have Paintshop Pro 7...I can't afford to upgrade...and I don't like the newer ones any way. I think the current version is 10.

I have Snagit 5.2...I could upgrade to a max of 5.4 for free, but even that is so old that they don't even offer a download for it on the site any more. But it does what I need it to, so it doesn't matter to me. I think the current version is 8.

The list goes on & on (I used to have a lot more money to burn at one time, but not any more).

I think I stopped buying commercial software for a few reasons:

  • I was stuck on a really old pc for a long time because my good one died and I couldn't afford to replace it and the old one can't really run all the newer bloated programs.
  • I have a belief that new doesn't always mean improved.
  • I developed a love for small, well made, single purpose utilities. (they are usually free)
  • I don't have any pocket change to spare. I live where the cost of living is high and jobs are hard to come by and the pay is low. If it's not the basic necessities of food, shelter, and utilities, then it's considered a luxury to me.
  • I am afraid to buy something and then 6 months later regret it.

I have never regretted a donation I have made to a developer. I don't view it as paying for something. I view it as a thank you gift to a person that has created something I appreciate. I never regret giving a gift.

I have donated to developers that I haven't even tried their software. Something about the whole thing just seemed right at the time. I appreciated their effort or something else about them, personally.


I have one question for everyone:

Can you name 1 program that has been released in the last 5 years that is actually so good that it is worth having at any price (or even worth pirating)?

I can't think of 1.


Renegade

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #85 on: April 22, 2007, 05:21:01 PM »
Now... If you live in a developed country, then there's no excuse. You can afford my prices and what I'm asking for my software. If you're stealing, then you're stealing. Period. Agreed there.
Playing devil's advocate...

They could even sell it to customers in the USA/Europe at prices which massively undercut other developers, and still earn a very good standard of living. Is that fair on the other developers? ...


Excellent points throughout. They are complex issues that are not likely to be resolved any time soon.

I think that what's at the bottom of it all is a fundamental flaw in capitalism that cannot be adequately addressed inside the system it operates. (This would run off on too much of a tangent - I'll leave it there.)
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tinjaw

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #86 on: April 22, 2007, 06:33:19 PM »
Renegade, I am only using your reply as a representative example. Yes, these are your points, and yes, in many cases I disagree with them, and thus you. However, I don't want to think that I am attacking you. In fact, I chose to use your reply because I felt you are one of those capable of being both passionate and reasonable.

When you make $100 per month, it's not easy to spend $50 on software.
If anyone makes $100 per month and they spend a single penny on software, they're a fricking idiot. If they are making $100 per month a) they probably don't have a computer in the first place b) if they do, they can't afford electricity to run it. c) If they "need" software they can use free software. I don't care if the price of the software is one cent. If they don't pay for it, they are stealing. If you don't believe me, read a dictionary. I'm not trying to be hostile here, it is just a fact of life. The definition of the word is what it is.

If the developer, producer, whatever, of the software wants to make it available for free to such person, they will do so. If there is such a free version available and you take a retailed box version from the store that isn't a free version, you are still stealing. period.

To ask that someone that makes what I spit on for a piece of software is just cruel. It's called having some sense of generosity and compassion.
That is a red herring. Again, if the software has a price, be it one cent or a million dollars, if they use it without paying they are stealing. It has absolutely nothing to do with generosity or compassion. Again, I repeat, if a seller wants to show compassion and generosity and give it away for free or at a reduced price, then I applaud them.

At the moment our ability to respond to these issues (as software manufacturers) is limited, and only the larger manufacturers really have the means to do so
I cannot disagree with you more. I disagree with you 100%. I offer you the tens of thousands of one-person F/OSS applications available for anybody's use. It doesn't take a large manufacturer to provide free software for people who can't afford to pay for software. I am not sure why you say this. And if the company you are working for makes software that poor people cannot afford, spend your time off the clock working on F/OSS.

But to begrudge someone that lives in poverty and is fortunate enough to actually HAVE A COMPUTER is just cruel.
Who in this thread has aid *anything* to indicate that they begrudge such people? No one has said anything of the sort.

I'm not really buying this line of reasoning across the board.

Pricing is situational.
Yes, pricing is situational. But, that is a red herring. The situation might be that the software only costs $0.000001 USD in China and $1,000,000 USD in the US, however, if you take it without paying, by definition, you are stealing. I don't care if you downloaded it, borrowed installer media, or shoplifted it. It doesn't matter if it is software.

Just around the corner from my house I see Mercedez cars, BMWs, and Bentleys. These people can afford to pay for software. I can also travel a few hours from where I live and see people in complete and total squallor with literally nothing. If they "steal" from me, my cost is virtually nothing.
It has nothing to do with one's ability to afford something. Again, by definition, if you take something that isn't yours, that isn't being offered to you by the rightful owner freely, then you are stealing. If the millionaire down the street takes the same exact software that a homeless person takes without paying, they are both stealing.

We're talking about software here. The cost for me to get my products to these people is virtually nothing.
You can decide that about your personal situation and the software that you personally make, however, just because you don't seem to feel there is any cost, even an opportunity cost, associated with doesn't mean that this is the case across the board for all entities and all software.

How can I possibly begin to accuse people of theft there?
Definition of theft according to Wiktionary. Definition of stealing according to Wiktionary. That is how I can.

It's got to do with a matter of scale and resources. On my resource scale I can spend $50 and not bat an eye. For some people, that's a weeks wages!
It has nothing to do with matter of scale or resources. See definition above.

(Ahem... Like mouser said... WHAT IS IT WORTH TO YOU!)

I think that is great. I think donationware is a great idea. I support it. I am in the process of writing software I plan on offering as donationware. And I don't care if somebody highly values it but cannot afford it so only sends me a thank you email. However, I am also writing software I plan on selling and if somebody takes it without paying, that is theft, and I would hope I can use the legal system to prosecute them. (That not being economically feasible in most cases is a different issue altogether different.  ;)  )

Now... If you live in a developed country, then there's no excuse. You can afford my prices and what I'm asking for my software. If you're stealing, then you're stealing. Period. Agreed there.
If you want to forgive poor people for stealing, fine. Let them take your stuff. However, it is theft. period. I haven't yet seen any reason, in any of the arguments you have put forth that the definition of theft has changed.

This is a complex issue and there are real problems in solving it.
As this discussion is about piracy, I will have to disagree with you. It is black and white. However, I do believe that you are mixing issues here, and the issue you seem to be confusing with piracy is one about economics, humanity, society, philosophy, etc. - the ability to legally obtain what you need. That is one I will leave the economists and philosophers to figure out.

But it's just not right for us as software authors in the developed world to complain about fractions of a cent. That's being miserly and greedy in a very obscene and (almost) evil way.
I don't believe any of them are complaining about fractions of a cent. They are complaining about millions of dollars.

I am not condoning Adobe's behaviour. I am not endorsing any particular licensing scheme. I am endorsing being compassionate and fair to PEOPLE.
In terms of Adobe being a company competing in a Capitalistic market, I am condoning they're licensing scheme. And I am condoning the licensing scheme of the other companies that compete against them with other software products, targeted at similar markets, with various pricing models. I also condone the licensing scheme of those developers writing similar software using a variety of F/OSS licensing schemes. That is what is great about democracy and capitalism.

Again, please, please, please don't take this personally Renegade. As you, I too do not have time to cut and paste and reply directly to a multitude of individuals. I have chosen to use your reply as an example, because I feel it is representative of many peoples feelings.

People don't "need" Photoshop (our collective example), they "want" Photoshop. If they do need Photoshop, then I can think of no other reason than that it is to produce something they themselves will be selling. (If they are giving it away, then again, they "want" it, not "need" it, because don't "need" to make something to give away for free, they "want" to make something to give away for free.) And if they can't afford Photoshop, then they need to find a less expensive or free alternative. If they do not, they are hypocrites for charging for their own products or services.

  • By definition, software piracy is theft. period.
  • If you want software that does something either a) buy it, b) find a cheaper alternative, or c) find a free alternative.
  • If there is no alternative that is free, or you can affords, than you must go without.
  • No one in their right mind is going to argue against you when you say that there is a strong demand for inexpensive to free software.
  • No one in their right mind is going to argue against you when you say that people should show compassion to those less fortunate.
  • No one in their right ming is going to argue against you when you say that you are willing to give the paper you use to wipe your butt to poor people.  :P
  • As a libertarian, I see nothing wrong with charging for software to make a profit.
  • As a libertarian, I see nothing wrong with charging "what the market will bear".
  • I will leave it to the economic textbooks and economists to explain why providing goods and services for low prices, or free, can, in many cases, be more harmful to the economy as a whole, and one's personal financial health than charging market price.
  • I do financially, and with my time and effort, support F/OSS and donationware.
  • I find it very difficult to impossible to believe somebody "needs" software that it justifies theft. (Yes, million dollar software runs medical equipment, but that is not what we are discussing here.)
  • I don't feel any less sympathetic about people that live in poverty, or that otherwise cannot afford the luxuries more fortunate people can.
  • I am an advocate of F/OSS.
  • I am happy that businesses support, in various ways, F/OSS.
  • I am a libertarian, and believe in democracy and the free market of capitalism. (Read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged)
  • I charge (as many others do) for software so that I can earn a living and not end up as one of these unfortunate people we have talked about.
  • All of the various businesses that are involved in the sale of that same piece of software also charge money for the same reason.

tinjaw

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #87 on: April 22, 2007, 06:40:02 PM »
I think that what's at the bottom of it all is a fundamental flaw in capitalism that cannot be adequately addressed inside the system it operates. (This would run off on too much of a tangent - I'll leave it there.)
A hah! You admit you are a pinko commie socialist hippie!!  :P J/K of course.

I too see many flaws with capitalism. There are no shortage of them. There is, unfortunately, also no shortage of people acting in manners that are not conducive to the long term of humanity as a whole regardless of what economic, political, geographical, or religious group they belong to. I too wish we could "all just get along".

tymrwt33

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #88 on: April 22, 2007, 09:17:09 PM »
In perspective:
1. Lotus 123 cost around $129, 20 years ago. Excel probably costs about the same now, for a much superior software. Lotus made you use their program disk every time you wanted to use the program, that is after you installed it. Having to install a Key once on software installation does not seem so bad, does it?.
2. No use ranting at prices and quoting some piece of Hollywood fantasy as your guide. Vote with your feet - there is a legal freebie for most software you would want to use, in most cases several freebies.
3. Cost of goods was never a reason for stealing , and piracy is not caused by software pricing. Pirates do it because they can, and it will always be cheaper that any price. Countries like China and others condone piracy because it is a cheap way for them to catch up technologically.

zridling

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #89 on: April 23, 2007, 02:19:28 AM »
[app103]: "Can you name 1 program that has been released in the last 5 years that is actually so good that it is worth having at any price (or even worth pirating)?"

Now that depends on how you use your computer. In the last five years? Hmmm. For me, it'd be UltraEdit and XYplorer, although not sure either qualifies for the 5-year limit. So how about VMware Workstation? That's worth more than $189 cost for a lot of people who use it and need it in today's OS environment. (But then VMware has probably been around a long time, too.)

AutoHotkey!
« Last Edit: April 23, 2007, 02:31:18 AM by zridling »

app103

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #90 on: April 23, 2007, 03:02:25 AM »
[app103]: "Can you name 1 program that has been released in the last 5 years that is actually so good that it is worth having at any price (or even worth pirating)?"

Now that depends on how you use your computer. In the last five years? Hmmm. For me, it'd be UltraEdit and XYplorer, although not sure either qualifies for the 5-year limit. So how about VMware Workstation? That's worth more than $189 cost for a lot of people who use it and need it in today's OS environment. (But then VMware has probably been around a long time, too.)

AutoHotkey!

I would have to disagree with UltraEdit when PSPad exists...and is free, even for commercial use. (although I have always loved Notepad2 and never needed a hex editor till the other day and I downloaded HxD)

I have never used an application like XYplorer so I can't really say anything about that except what I will say about your next example: VMware Workstation

For those that use and need it, the price is really good...I will agree with that. But what if they decide to double the price tomorrow? or triple it? Is it still worth the price? (my keywords were 'at any price') Would you pay to upgrade yours or stick with the older version?

And AutoHotkey...congratulations...you found one!
Yes...it is worth any price. Let's celebrate and be happy it's free. 

Renegade

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #91 on: April 25, 2007, 05:02:54 PM »
tinjaw,

(Sorry for the delayed response.)

Sigh... At the end of the day you're pretty much right. Stealing is stealing and piracy is stealing in the end. Understanding where it happens and why though is important to prevent it though.

The one part where I think you really missed what I meant was where I mentioned that our ability to offer software at different prices in different markets is limited. While it is possible to offer it for free, that doesn't pay the bills for commercial developers. So while $50 may be ok in the US, in another place a reasonable price may be $2. Pricing things for markets like this is still rather difficult as IP assignments aren't 100% accurately reported for different countries (e.g. AOL has a US IP block in use in Germany). Then there's the question of proper maintenance of an IP address database. For most developers this kind of maintenance becomes unbearable. At the moment, only the Microsofts, Symantecs, and Trend Micros of the world are doing this.

Back to what I said and your response - Yes. I am completely guilty of mixing issues there. Part of my intent is to point out that pricing needs to be done for the market, and a US pricing schedule just isn't appropriate for some other markets (most in fact). So when a pricing schedule ceases to be rational, how is the market supposed to respond? Rationally? This is a pretty hard leap to make when rationality has already been thrown out.

While theft still may be wrong, in some circumstances it at least becomes more understandable, and perhaps even excusable. I place part of the blame for this on unreasonable pricing schedules. Another portion of blame should rest on inadequate distribution, payment and banking systems that prevent legitimate payments. (In some places actually paying for software is impossible.)

We're never going to eliminate piracy, but if we can make paying for software easy with reasonable prices, then our reasons for excusing it in certain circumstances diminishes. I think this is what we as software authors *should* be striving for.

For example (a radical one to illustrate the point), suppose Bill Gates or Larry Ellison were to program a simple sharewre type utility ($20~50 price range) that took them a week or a month to write. They would have to price it at some insane price like $10,000 per copy to begin to justify their time. The market simply can't accept that though. Their expectations wouldn't be reasonable.

Similarly, only providing a way to pay that nobody has access to is equally unreasonable.

Setting ourselves up for failure then complaining about it doesn't solve the problem. We really need to look at the causes of our problems and address those. Piracy is just a symptom in many circumstances. (Albeit China may be a poor example as everyone I know that does business there complains about nobody ever being honest.)

Quote
pinko commie socialist hippie

Hahahaha~! :)

I'm very far from being that! :)

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2stepsback

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #92 on: April 26, 2007, 04:08:52 AM »
Sigh... At the end of the day you're pretty much right. Stealing is stealing and piracy is stealing in the end. Understanding where it happens and why though is important to prevent it though.
Renegade, you've opened *THE* can of worms. Being an avid worm-hunter in licensing, I want to add something as well.
Quote
The one part where I think you really missed what I meant was where I mentioned that our ability to offer software at different prices in different markets is limited. While it is possible to offer it for free, that doesn't pay the bills for commercial developers. So while $50 may be ok in the US, in another place a reasonable price may be $2.
That could not have been stated in better words.
Quote
Pricing things for markets like this is still rather difficult as IP assignments aren't 100% accurately reported for different countries (e.g. AOL has a US IP block in use in Germany). Then there's the question of proper maintenance of an IP address database. For most developers this kind of maintenance becomes unbearable.
*NO*.

There are alternate models. Let me explain:
Google ads show pretty accurate results based on the website, your location and often on the basis of many of your previous searches. I'm a programmer so when I google for "developer" you all know what I mean. When I searched for "property", "land"  etc. and then "developer" I got real estate ads. So, their system is *good*.

Have we not felt that shudder when we heard about the poor old granny who used AOL to look up medicines and do research for her friends, only to end up on the front pages as a "Granny who was not searching for drugs, alcohol and property"?

1. Maxmind GeoIP gives out free IP databases
2. Any of these bigwigs or people like GeoIP can offer a simple webservice (XML-RPC even) to get the best information about a person's location.
3. Several online payment services inform you of your location and warn you that your IP, ISP, date and time has been logged, so you better not try tricks with the system.
4. Paypal's system also works pretty well.
Quote
At the moment, only the Microsofts, Symantecs, and Trend Micros of the world are doing this.
+ M$ can offer the service for a nominal amount or even free, they can afford a few tens of server hits, one for every registered shareware install, or even trial install.
+ They've released a DDK, they made Visual Studio plugin-supporting, they want to press XAML and WPF via .Net 3.0, they're even promoting Mono
+ They now don't mind asking you to allow your machine to call home - updates and stuff.
+ They are willing to shut your Vista down if they find anything suspicious.
Of course all software has bugs and 10% people will get problems. But the system as a whole benefits.
Quote
Back to what I said and your response - Yes. I am completely guilty of mixing issues there. Part of my intent is to point out that pricing needs to be done for the market, and a US pricing schedule just isn't appropriate for some other markets (most in fact). So when a pricing schedule ceases to be rational, how is the market supposed to respond? Rationally? This is a pretty hard leap to make when rationality has already been thrown out.
While theft still may be wrong, in some circumstances it at least becomes more understandable, and perhaps even excusable. I place part of the blame for this on unreasonable pricing schedules. Another portion of blame should rest on inadequate distribution, payment and banking systems that prevent legitimate payments. (In some places actually paying for software is impossible.)
Correct. very thoughtful of you to have brought not-so-obvious aspects and sytems.
Now there's a totally outside solution to your IP problem.

Recognizing registered copies depends upon correct identification of the buyer, right?
Who says we need to use IP addresses?
Why not use Interactive Voice Response Systems like they use in your telephone menus? Every shareware author will be willing to pay $2 to fund the registration phone call if he feels that it really works in stopping piracy. The software should not work if the phone call isn't completed successfully.
Hacking phone calls and IVRSes is far more difficult than misusing IP addresses by infrastructure-level internet hacks.

Smart guys need only this much information to get going with this system. So, I'll stop this topic right here.

Now, to the next: Cracking.
Cracking is not a technical issue. It's a social one. When smart talented programmers have no jobs and no clues as to when they can start earning, they are frustrated.
Then, they go out to prove that they are good, very good. So many crackers end their victory note in " People, enjoy, I've unlocked the thing, now you can go and make merry"

Read that sentence ten times. Over and over again.
it says: "These bloody overpricing F***ers have troubled us no end. They have put a mouth-watering cake on the table in front of us, but, it is inside an iron cage and to get the key we have to fight an entire economical and social establishment. Instead, I shall use my brain and liberate myself, and you others like me, from this bonding. Take this and make merry! Remember me for the favor!"

At least two-thirds of crackers get this pleasure. And guess what, they are the guys *really* *really* good at handling assembly, C, C++, Win32 API and stuff. These same guys, when exposed to Linux and FOSS make the sexiest hacks in several awesome programs. Go check out the names, countries and regions from where both categories come. They tally to quite an extent. Eastern Europe, Russia, maybe China. Majority of operating pirates are non-technical people who simply download the cracks apply them and distribute them. They are complete thieves. The crackers OTOh, like to be called Robinhoods.

I've seen several messages like "Hey man! l33t h4x0r, ur awesome! thnx, i needed dat prog badly!" And the l33t h4x0r is extremely delighted at the usefulness of his generous donation made out of real top core hacking skills.

Give them good jobs and your piracy menace will go reduce to quite a bit. Then of course, shareware authors always think of raising the price up to a maximum threshold, beyond which the user will say "No thanks." They'll go to 99.99%. Another driving force.
It's a vicious circle. The shareware author feels that he should gather all his money from the few who *will* buy.

So, rather than getting at each others' throats, we should see how to work together.

Here, a big problem comes up. It's called Bill Gates.
"If those guys are pirating software anyway, we want that they pirate our software, and we will figure out how to *extract* the money later"

So, in effect, microsoft started and nourished the piracy industry till a point where 95% desktops run Windows. Now he was about to strangle every neck and suddenly out of the blue, Nicholas Negroponte came out with the $100 laptop with guess what - Linux. F***! now, the 95% of 1 biilion will lose to 50% of 5 billion. F***! Double f***! So, what does he do? Vista Starter for $3 only. Now you tell me, how in this wide world, with a variety of people, is that going to discourage pirates. So many pirates were anxious about what was to be done next. Users even. Now, they just have to tell their local Police officer (or whoever):
"Look Officer, we don't know what Vista or XP is, we just wanted a PC with that letter-printing thing and that tax calculation thing. How do we know our hardware vendor has pirated stuff. btw, what is piracy supposed to be? There aren't any ships involved here.
The "things" are MS Office 2007 priced at $299 upwards, IIRC (I've stopped checking.)

                     THE PUNCHLINE:
In the entire process, M$ has ensured that Apple Macs will only run on 5% of the roads, OS/2 will run on remote isolated village roads and Netware on old broken-down roads in poorer suburbs.

Similarly for every other serious big program. And most importantly, the Robinhoods in Eastern Europe are *cultivated* by M$'s policies - collateral damage: small coders and ISVs.
M$ does not reimburse by way of cracking-promotion fines to ISVs. Heck they've made everyone a thief. Respect for the coder's hardwork is ...what's that supposed to be?

Not to mention the way they react to FOSS - Visual studio free, MSDE free, SQL server free, Business server 120-day trial. One hack and reinstall and again 120 days free!!! ad infinitum! SDk free. DDK free. What the f***!
Neither are FOSS people earning, nor are shareware authors earning.
Who needs winzip when compression is built into XP?

Monopoly-sustenance practices have invisible victims - small coders and ISVs.

There are quite a few Operating systems and Office suites literally ruined by M$ piracy:
BeOS, Office 602, OS/2, Netware, EasyOffice. People can add more to this list.

If it weren't for FOSS, M$ would have been screwing every single computer user today.
Steve Jobs may be called anything, but he does not do such things to monopolize (AFAIK).

Mouser (when did he get into this??) has done a real good job of making that chart(phew!) of income versus respectable donation. Before blaming pirates, everyone taking useful time-saving tips and reviews and discounts over here SHOULD refer to that table and see if they've done their bit *fairly*. (I have no qualms taking a few muttered abuses.)

Even if you don't, this place won't degenerate. But this should come up as a model for everyone to follow. And pray that somehow, M$'s policy of nurturing piracy goes for a toss.

Quote
We're never going to eliminate piracy, but if we can make paying for software easy with reasonable prices, then our reasons for excusing it in certain circumstances diminishes. I think this is what we as software authors *should* be striving for.

For example (a radical one to illustrate the point), suppose Bill Gates or Larry Ellison were to program a simple sharewre type utility ($20~50 price range) that took them a week or a month to write. They would have to price it at some insane price like $10,000 per copy to begin to justify their time. The market simply can't accept that though. Their expectations wouldn't be reasonable.

Similarly, only providing a way to pay that nobody has access to is equally unreasonable.

Setting ourselves up for failure then complaining about it doesn't solve the problem. We really need to look at the causes of our problems and address those. Piracy is just a symptom in many circumstances. (Albeit China may be a poor example as everyone I know that does business there complains about nobody ever being honest.)
Yeah man! You said it all in nicer words. Fully agree. I had to tell my opinion even if it were a repeat of what you said. Sorry :) :)

So, in the end what?
IVRs registration. IP recognition, Finger-print recognition, (I'm NOT crazy, it can all be done - "640k ought to be enough for anyone")

Or, happy, lovely, FOSS!! :) :)
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Hirudin

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #93 on: April 26, 2007, 06:04:38 AM »
Dear god you people should be paying me for reading your frigging novel posts. Or better yet, you should be charging me! After all; it did take time to write.

Philosophical indeed...

1 piece of software that I'll pay *anything* for? Um... well... I suppose the software in my car can't possibly be worth more than the car itself, so that doesn't apply. I couldn't imagine any accounting software that would ever be worth more than the cost of hiring an accountant (and also a massage therapist, and a personal chef, and a ride in a fighter jet). The only thing that could possibly come close to this absurd criterion is some kind of medical software that keeps you alive. Like some kind of pacemaker software or something...

Stealing is wrong. No argument there! I think what we're disagreeing on is just how wrong it is. Libertarian or not, I hope you don't see everything in blinding-stark-white or pitch-jet-black as you appear above tinjaw. I hope "wrong is wrong" isn't what you're trying to say. Is pirating wrong? Sure. Is genocide wrong? You bet. But, are they both equal?
Yeah, stealing is stealing is stealing, but are you seriously saying that all stealing is the same? 1¢ and 100,000,000¢, the same?

I think my original summation is pretty accurate...
Why do companies charge exorbitant prices for their software?
Why do people pirate?

And, where this thread has gone...
Why do people give their software away for free?
The answer to all three...
Because they can.

It's not going to change, all we can do is live without the software, live without our money, or live with our conscience after stealing it.

If stealing software is equivalent to breaking the terms of it's license, I can definitely live with that on my conscience.

The parallels to music piracy are undeniable. Everybody cries "the poor artists aren't getting paid" but nobody cares when someone sells a used CD. It's as if people only believe goods can change hands if someone gets paid.

This debate can go on forever. I suggest when we're done here we discuss religion, politics, mac vs PC, and which came first: the chicken or the egg.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2007, 06:50:50 AM by Hirudin »

2stepsback

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #94 on: April 26, 2007, 06:15:36 AM »
Dear god you people should be paying me for reading your frigging novel posts. Or better yet, you should be charging, since after all, it did take time to write.


Yours for only $4.99/line.
Local Taxes apply and are not included.
Support starts from $50 per issue*

Macroflop(TM) (c) 2007

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PS:
Just a sarcy take on high-sounding corporate types. Nothing personal or harmful intended :) :)
Plus, no more flaming from me :) :)
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mouser

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #95 on: April 26, 2007, 08:19:45 AM »
Quote
Now, to the next: Cracking.
Cracking is not a technical issue. It's a social one. When smart talented programmers have no jobs and no clues as to when they can start earning, they are frustrated.
Then, they go out to prove that they are good, very good. So many crackers end their victory note in " People, enjoy, I've unlocked the thing, now you can go and make merry"

Read that sentence ten times. Over and over again.
it says: "These bloody overpricing F***ers have troubled us no end. They have put a mouth-watering cake on the table in front of us, but, it is inside an iron cage and to get the key we have to fight an entire economical and social establishment. Instead, I shall use my brain and liberate myself, and you others like me, from this bonding. Take this and make merry! Remember me for the favor!"

i think this is something worth pondering.

how do you tell someone who is struggling just to get by in life and pay the rent and have enough money for food after slaving away all day, that he shouldnt be able to play with some software or game, if it doesn't cost the producer a penny since it's too expensive for him to buy?

if they entire economic system is stacked against the normal person, who gets farther and farther into debt each day, while the rich wake up and find that while they were sleeping they made 10%, 20%, 200% on some stock market investment that has no relation to work they've done.  If the entire economic system of the world is stacked so high against you, and using some pirated software has no significant effect on the income of anyone, it's hard to feel bad about that.

I do think however that there are some ramifications for this kind of pirating that are non-obvious but quite important to think about.  And one of them is the open source market.  For example, does piracy hurt the open source community?  If people couldn't pirate photoshop, would that make programs like the Gimp and Paint.net more and more important, more and more used, and perhaps more and more supported, funded, and developed?  If MS Windows and OSX were never pirated, would it funnel more energy into developing and developing for linux?  These are the issues that really make me think twice about pirating..

tinjaw

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #96 on: April 26, 2007, 08:30:10 AM »
Stealing is wrong. No argument there! I think what we're disagreeing on is just how wrong it is. Libertarian or not, I hope you don't see everything in blinding-stark-white or pitch-jet-black as you appear above tinjaw. I hope "wrong is wrong" isn't what you're trying to say. Is pirating wrong? Sure. Is genocide wrong? You bet. But, are they both equal?
Yeah, stealing is stealing is stealing, but are you seriously saying that all stealing is the same? 1¢ and 100,000,000¢, the same?
You need not worry. I do understand the difference and I would not put all of those in the same basket. I was strictly speaking about "is piracy a crime of theft?" and the answer is black and white.

Renegade,
Quote
The one part where I think you really missed what I meant was where I mentioned that our ability to offer software at different prices in different markets is limited. While it is possible to offer it for free, that doesn't pay the bills for commercial developers. So while $50 may be ok in the US, in another place a reasonable price may be $2.
This is not a problem reserved only for software. It is a problem with any good or service offered globally. And the market is working that out a little more each day. Unfortunately it hasn't really been a true global market but for the past five to ten years and so we are just starting. I find "The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century" by Thomas Friedman an excellent book on this topic. I think what we will see develop is there will be a tiered market for software. With different versions of software having different amounts of features included and costing exponentially more per tier. I suspect the highest tier, with the highest cost, and the greatest amount of features and value-added material will be subscription models like Salesforce.com so that piracy can be avoided more easily.

Darwin

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #97 on: April 26, 2007, 08:38:18 AM »
Mouser wrote:
Quote
I do think however that there are some ramifications for this kind of pirating that are non-obvious but quite important to think about.  And one of them is the open source market.  For example, does piracy hurt the open source community?  If people couldn't pirate photoshop, would that make programs like the Gimp and Paint.net more and more important, more and more used, and perhaps more and more supported, funded, and developed?  If MS Windows and OSX were never pirated, would it funnel more energy into developing and developing for linux?  These are the issues that really make me think twice about pirating..

Now THAT is an interesting and astute insight! I had never thought of this issue from that perspective before.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

app103

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #98 on: April 26, 2007, 09:53:15 AM »
Mouser wrote:
Quote
I do think however that there are some ramifications for this kind of pirating that are non-obvious but quite important to think about.  And one of them is the open source market.  For example, does piracy hurt the open source community?  If people couldn't pirate photoshop, would that make programs like the Gimp and Paint.net more and more important, more and more used, and perhaps more and more supported, funded, and developed?  If MS Windows and OSX were never pirated, would it funnel more energy into developing and developing for linux?  These are the issues that really make me think twice about pirating..

Now THAT is an interesting and astute insight! I had never thought of this issue from that perspective before.

I did and was going to say something similar to that in a previous post I made a few days ago,  but I edited it out on account of the way I worded it didn't sound quite right.

I was having a bad day and everything I seemed to say came out all wrong and I got on the bad side of many people.

If you like to code for the sake of coding, and you are already doing it for free by releasing freeware and never expecting to make a dime, and you have the skills necessary and can handle working on larger projects (with others), do the world a favor and help out on an existing open source project. You just might make a difference and it would be just as or maybe even more rewarding.

I wish I had the skills necessary to do it, and maybe some day I will. But for now it isn't a good idea for me to get involved in the actual coding. I am still on the hunt for a project that does have something I can do to help, though.

As it turns out, the only skill I seem to have, that I am really good at, is connecting people with the resources they need (be it info, tools, or experts), to help them find the answers they need to tackle whatever problem they have. Despite what some people that know me may think, I don't know everything...I just know where to find the answers.

When I find a project that needs a 'human switchboard operator of info' I will have found the perfect one.

Oh wait...nevermind...I almost forgot that I am doing that now...here...in my chatroom...everywhere.  :D

2stepsback

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Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« Reply #99 on: April 26, 2007, 10:41:36 AM »
I was having a bad day and everything I seemed to say came out all wrong and I got on the bad side of many people.
Ask me. First hand fresh experience :)
Quote
If you like to code for the sake of coding, and you are already doing it for free by releasing freeware and never expecting to make a dime, and you have the skills necessary and can handle working on larger projects (with others), do the world a favor and help out on an existing open source project. You just might make a difference and it would be just as or maybe even more rewarding.
Very very well said.  :up: :up:
Quote
But for now it isn't a good idea for me to get involved in the actual coding. I am still on the hunt for a project that does have something I can do to help, though.
Wordpress, best bet. <-- super simple PHP
XUL next best. <-- only markup in XML

Non-FOSS:
XAML <-- M$'s version of (Java+XML) for GUI

----------Diversion----------
One and all,
See http://www.htmlkit.com/, It is a goooooood editor. Not only that you can make plugins.
Importantly, you do not need to write a single line of code to make a plugin. Yup!   8) 8) 8) 8)
It's all visual. And tell you what, it's awesome!
In fact see more in this post:
http://www.donationc...70.msg59152#msg59152
----------Diversion----------
Quote
As it turns out, the only skill I seem to have, that I am really good at, is connecting people with the resources they need (be it info, tools, or experts), to help them find the answers they need to tackle whatever problem they have. Despite what some people that know me may think, I don't know everything...I just know where to find the answers.
1. People with those skills are gonna be in demand when Redhat and sourceforge.net start their FOSS exchanges. Keep a watch.
2. You should try your hand at Google and Yahoo! Answers
(psst.... if you make good money, pass a few Donation Credits here as well ;) ;) )

HTH
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See http://www.codinghor...archives/000735.html
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