Free Enterprise Giving Away Software Via the Internet Is Proving to Be Good Business

Article excerpt

If you know your way around computers, the Internet can make you feel like a kid in a candy store with unlimited money and no adult supervision.

Thousands of free software programs are available on the Internet: screensavers, navigational packages for the Internet, calendars, financial planners - the list goes on and on.

The way to obtain these programs is by using File Transfer Protocol, an Internet application specifically designed for moving large files from one computer to another. Most often it means downloading a file from a remote host computer to the hard drive of your computer.

The protocol was one of the earliest tools developed for the Internet. It began as a way for scientists to easily transmit large files of research data, but it quickly became apparent that any kind of file could be moved, including programs.

There's a simple reason why so much free software is available via the protocol: It's good business.

One thing software developers have realized is that the more free demonstration versions of their programs they hand out over the Internet, the more licensed products they wind up selling.

It's a crazy kind of Internet-only logic, but it's turning out to be the way many companies do business. It's particularly applicable to the World Wide Web, which has grown up so quickly because so much of the navigational software is freely available for downloading.

For example, Netscape Communications of Mountain View, Calif., has given away more than 4 million free copies of its Netscape Navigator. But Netscape is doing very well selling its commercial software products to companies that want to communicate with all those people who have downloaded the free Web browser.

You can download the Navigator software from Netscape's home page on the World Wide Web. Address: http://www.mcom.com

Much of what is available by FTP is called shareware. Software developers who make shareware available over the Internet depend on the honor system to make their money. …