Licensing models - non-free software


All software products classified as trial share the time-limit characteristic. Basically, they can be used for a limited amount of time mostly referred to as evaluation period or trial period. It is specified in days or, more rarely, in program usage sessions. When the trial period ends, the user is asked to purchase a license in order to continue to use the software. The typical evaluation period is between 15 and 90 days, with exceptions for complex software packages such as operating systems or server software, which may go up to 180 or more days.

Most vendors offer the option of buying a license online via self-operated or outsourced order pages. Notable order processors are Regnow, Plimus and Element5. Payments can be made via credit card, Paypal accounts or, in some cases, checks.

Although most trial software products are only limited in terms of usage time, some of them may exhibit feature limitations. However, when these limitations affect critical functionality, the program is classified as demo.

Programs licensed under this model qualify only for the Softpedia "100% Clean" award.


Demos are similar to programs classified as trial, but their main characteristic is represented by the functionality limitations. A typical example is a video conversion program which in demo mode only converts a small part of the input file. In some cases, complete features are disabled until a license is purchased.

Sometimes demos are not time-limited like trial software but due to the feature limitations, this is not a great advantage.

Programs licensed under this model qualify only for the Softpedia "100% Clean" award.


This licensing model is very different from the traditional freeware or trial; commercialware programs are relatively rare nowadays. Simply put, such software cannot be obtained without being purchased first.

It is often delivered upon purchase in a boxed or disc (CD/DVD) format, along with the registration information. However, some vendors choose to provide a temporary download link for the full product via email instead. The program cannot be obtained in a trial or demo form via downloads or similar methods.