Demo software is a trial version of a software program that allows people to use it for free while deciding whether or not to buy it. Not all companies offer software demos, but those that introduce new or competing software products almost always do. As a general rule, this type of software can be downloaded directly from the manufacturer’s website or through a central download site that offers a variety of downloadable products.
man holding computer
Various formats can be used for demo software. One of the most common ways is to allow customers to download a full version that will expire in a certain period of time, such as two weeks. If the customer decides to purchase the software, he can purchase an activation code that will prevent the software from expiring. Most companies offer customers a variety of payment options, including registering the software over the phone, on the company’s website, or through the demo software itself.
Test software can also take the form of a full version with reduced functionality, allowing people to play with the software but not fully use it. For example, a program may not allow people to save files, which means that people can use the program to see how it feels, but they cannot save the work they produce. In other cases, the demo software may have functions in the menus grayed out, showing customers what they could do with the software if they purchased the full version. If customers decide they want the software, they can purchase an unlock code from the company that will make the program fully functional.
Some companies release demo software independently of the full version to avoid hacking. In this case, the demo is usually a scaled-down version of the actual product and customers who purchase the software uninstall the demo version and install the full version. For expensive software, this method is often preferred as hackers have a keen interest in cracking the activation codes of expensive demo software so they can avoid paying for it.
The term is also used for demo copies freely distributed to people in the computer industry. Many software companies offer evaluation copies of new releases to critics and other influential industry insiders before the product hits the market. Demo copies allow people to use the software freely so that they can write honest, thoughtful, and helpful reviews of the software, which can increase consumer demand for the product.