Limited Features or Limited Time?

  • I like the free limited capability idea, especially if the limited capability is all I need at the moment.

    For heavy duty testing, I like the hybrid, but I wish I could choose when the limited full feature time starts.

    I'ld like to be able to wait to turn on the "full features" until after I get past the initial learning curve of the basic functions.

    I also prefer a trial period that is based on hours of testing, not on calendar days. That way I can test more fully at my convenience.

    I also like it when the vendor will extend the trial period for additional testing if you have a valid reason. I had one package run out 30 days to the minute after I started testing and unfortunately I was in the middle of completing a very large bid package. The vendor gave us an extra 15 days for testing, and we ended up buying multiple copies as a result.

  • The two schemes are not mutually exclusive. Why not offer both? The limited function product, with the option, if the user is seriously interested enough, to open the eval.

    This could be much more helpful to a decision. Often I'd like to get a rough idea of a product, but don't have the time to explore the details. With the time limited version I'd actually have to wait before loading it to fit my schedule. It would be much more convenient to first see what the product is about, then be able to choose a time to more closely examine it.


    -- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --

  • I tend to like full featured, or nearly so with unlimited time, but with an annoying reminder at start and close that you should purchase the software. Then if I don't get to it for months, I can still try it out and if I only use it once or twice a year, I can still use it without paying for it. However, since I get to use it and find out what it is really like, I can recommend it for others. And since I'm a consultant, when I go to a new assignment, I may find I need it much more often and purchase it then.

    If I end up using it often enough that the reminders become really annoying, I know I use it enough to purchase it. And since I get to use most of the features, I'll be able to tell if it is worth it.

    When you encounter a problem, if the solution isn't readily evident go back to the start and check your assumptions.
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  • David McKinney (6/4/2010)

    James Stover (6/4/2010)

    James Stover McDBA - is that like an Irish DBA?

    Geek humor - gotta love it! I've had my chuckle for the day... now back to work.

  • James Stover (6/4/2010)

    I wish I could have had a 180-day evaluation of my car. I definitely would have taken it back πŸ™‚

    My preference is the longer evaluation. If I decide I like it, I will check if the limited/free version will meet my requirements and if not, make a case to buy the fully-featured version.

    I need full-featured as well. I need to know if the product is going to really fit my need and I need to see all of what it can do before I can accurately assess that. Also, I need plenty enough time to do that as well, since I am not just doing one thing on a daily basis. πŸ˜€

    "Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ...:-D"

  • David McKinney (6/4/2010)

    ... but on each day one of the 'power features' was available (and the next day a different power feature would be available).

    I did something similar once. In the trial version, there was an 'admin' screen which allowed you to select which power feature was available; only one feature could be enabled at a time. The idea was to disrupt the user's workflow enough to be annoying, without actually prohibiting him from trying everything out. That plus a "trial version" watermark. Unfortunately, I never collected any data on how effective it was.


  • I'm a big fan of Beyond Comapare's model: usage count. Full featured until you meet or exceed the usage count threshold.

    I have no financial interest in the Company.

  • Interesting thread. Makes me think we are on the right track with offering a full-featured, 60-day evaluation version. Full-featured, except it will only allow you to create up to 5 reports (Business Intelligence reports/dashboards). This allows people to try all the features and gives them a reasonable time to do that, especially if they have their Analysis Services cube(s) built first. Or want to use the AdventureWorks cube. And the eval version will remind them with a friendly pop-up from time to time that they are using an eval version by saying "Thank you for evaluating Analyzer!"

    If they want to go beyond 5 reports in the evaluation, or not see the pop-up, we will provide a Proof-of-Concept (POC) license key which does time out. So it becomes unlimited reports, full features, but limited time. And no pop-ups. πŸ™‚

    The comments on this thread so far make me think we are striking the right balance between functionality and time. It's fair to the evaluator and it's fair to us.

    I am intrigued by the idea of unlimited features for awhile, then after a set time it becomes a limited feature set. Will need to think more about that one.

  • WayneS (6/3/2010)

    I would prefer the full-featured... but the time limit needs to be a least a month. Like you mentioned, all it takes is getting caught up in a few things at work, and a few weeks are gone.

    What I've also seen is a full-featured, but after a time limit it "down-grades" to a limited feature set.

    Same opinion. I need the full feature set and enough time to put it through the wringers.

    Jason...AKA CirqueDeSQLeil
    I have given a name to my pain...MCM SQL Server, MVP
    Posting Performance Based Questions - Gail Shaw[/url]
    Learn Extended Events

  • It seems like everyone is replying in terms of the end user, which is definitely one side of the equation (and what was asked for in the Editorial). And it seems that most people are in favor of the full featured, time limited (or usage count limited) option.

    I'd like to throw out the other side of the equation, the developer/ software company. On that side, I am also in favor of the full featured, time limited trial for a number of reasons.

    1 and 2. It's easier to develop and test. In most cases, having a full featured, time limited trial, the only difference between the trial version and the paid version is that during startup, the application checks some value to see if it has expired (obviously this value should be encrypted and tamper proof). However, if the trial version has a different/restricted feature set, the developer has to code for that and handle any special cases. Also, the testers have to explicitly test for those cases.

    3 and 4. Bugs and support. If you offer the full version as a time limited trial and a certain feature doesn't work for an end user, they will probably just delete the software and find something else. No real harm done. However, think of the embarrassment and cost involved if a user tries a feature limited version, buys the full version, and then one of those features doesn't work? Now the user is surly going to call your support or post some bad comments about your software.

  • David McKinney (6/4/2010)

    James Stover (6/4/2010)

    James Stover McDBA - is that like an Irish DBA?

    No, it's more of how I used to feel about MS certification - as McDonald's churned out hamburgers, so Microsoft churned out certified professionals. I don't really care about MS certs these days but I liked McDBA, so I kept the sig.

    James Stover, McDBA

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