There’s a growing shift where smaller companies are offering their software for FREE. No, this is not the traditionally free Linux based software that runs on Linux servers but plentiful and “standard” Windows based software.
Why? They are doing this to spread the word about their software in the hopes that if you try it you’ll upgrade to the more feature rich version and/or pay for support.
This kind of business model is a great way for you to get the feel for new software without paying huge upfront costs. But do watch out.
If the company is a very small company, especially one living off of investor funds, will they be in business 5 years from now?
Cnet writes “We’ve been growing but growing at a slow and steady rate. It was our observation, and the board agreed, that enterprise software is on the verge of a big shift,” said Peter Schroer, president of Aras. “In open source, what’s left is the application layer, and we wanted to be the first to offer it, not the last.”
Aras’ decision to go open-source mirrors moves by hundreds of software companies adjusting to the popularity of open source, where a product’s underlying code is freely available.
I’m not saying to NOT go this route but do be careful.
Companies that market free software find that it can boost their sales and visibility in the market.
What you should do is ensure you have complete access to the source code so that should you need support or customization you can make the needed changes on your own (or with a hired programmer) should the vendor be out of business.