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how to create a trial version of my program

Posted on 2002-06-27
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Last Modified: 2013-11-20
Hi,Experts:
  I want to know how to build a trial version of my existing program so that it will has an expire date after the installation,I don't have any idea at all where to start, does installshield help to achieve this? or I should add something my existing program and how to do it?
  please give me any idea, thanks.

-- pigangel
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Question by:pigangel
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Accepted Solution

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jhance earned 80 total points
ID: 7116050
There are many ways of doing this and what is best for you depends on many factors.  The most important factor, in my opinion, is how much time/effort/expense you want to dedicate to protecting your app.  Remember that regardless of what you do, a hacker will crack it just for the challenge.

I suggest that "trial" versions serve merely to help keep honest users honest, they do not make honest users out of pirates.  I'm fond of saying that:

"Legitimate users don't pirate and pirates are not legitimate users."  

Pirates will not ever purchase your program no matter what.  Don't spend a lot of time on them, spend your time making it faster/easier for legitimate users to buy your program.  And above all, don't do things that anger your legitimate users, they are your paying customers! (Microsoft should heed this!!)

A fairly simple way of implementing a trial program is to store a time/date value in the registry the first time your app is run.  Then, every time it runs again, check the current date/time against this value, if N-days have passed, say something nice about purchasing.  I strongly suggest that you continue to operate normally. Again, if you abort or do anything nasty you will just anger someone who is about to buy your software.  Remember, if this is a pirate-type he is NOT going to buy your software anyway, so don't worry about it.

This type of expiration is easily detected and easily circumvented so if you want to, you can get more sophisticated about where to put the date/time in the registry, how to store it there in some encrypted format, some people try to hide it in a non-obvious place, etc.

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Expert Comment

by:AveryH
ID: 7118084
A really simple solution is to download the program Softwrap. You get it free from http://www.softwrap.com.

Softwrap allows you to set limits on how many days you will allow someone to try the program; or how many times they can try it; or you can set it to expire after a certain date (determined by you).

The person evaluating your program will get a dialog telling them how many trials they have left and displays a "try It" and a "Buy It" button. Once your evaluation period has expired, they only get the "Buy It" button displayed. They cannot uninstall and re-install to try to extend the evaluation period.

Softwrap will handle distribution for you putting your program on hundreds of download sites, magazine cover CDs and DVDs.

They collect the payments due to you; deduct their fees (which work out at around 10% of sale price) and then send you a check or transfer direct to your bank account.

Using Softwrap has made life a huge amount easier for me. I'd recommend it to anyone.

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Expert Comment

by:fl0yd
ID: 7118626
The sad truth is: Nothing has ever kept a program from being hacked. You should be happy, if your security system lasts about 2-4 weeks. Anything beyond that period is pure luck or an indication of the inferior quality of your application.
I'm with jhance on this one -- implement something easy and don't waste too much time on it. If someone wants to steal the software he/she will. If someone feels the software is well worth its price he/she will buy it.
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Expert Comment

by:AveryH
ID: 7119757
jhance and fl0yd are right - if someone wants to steal your software they'll find a way to do it.

However, I'd still suggest that downloading and using Softwrap is musch better than reinventing the wheel
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Author Comment

by:pigangel
ID: 7123505
Thank you very much! I will get back to you after tying.

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Expert Comment

by:joakimf
ID: 7124472
I use a different way, I have added some #ifdefs to my program and when I compile the trial version, some funtionallity AND code are not compiled, so it's not possible to crack it, since entire functions are missing. Seems to be working well I think. But ofcourse there is no way to protect it against someone purchasing it and then gives it away to others.

/Joakim
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Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 7124507
The problem with that approach, of course, is that many users don't like "crippleware".  

I've been burned too many times be programs that don't work as advertised but you can't try them out since (usually) important features are missing in the trial versions.

I avoid "crippleware" programs at all times!
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Author Comment

by:pigangel
ID: 7230136
Thanks for all suggestion, finally I did the simple way as Jhance suggested. thank you very much!

  I had tried to accept the answer several time but got errors, will come back later.

pigangel


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