I just learned that Microsoft has decided to make the Visual Studio Express tools free forever. This to me shows Microsoft’s acknowledgment that people are not willing to invest their time learning a product that they will eventually have to pay more for then they have funds available or earmarked, especially young people. I greatly applaud this move, and I wish more software vendors would do this with their products (and I’m thinking of component and tools vendors for .NET developers.)
But how can companies make money giving away their software? I believe software has a lot more value to someone once they’ve learned it and can concretely understand it’s value after which they would be more then happy to spend their money to upgrade to more advanced features.However, to those software vendors who think they can release a free but essentially crippled product, don’t. No one will waste their time learning to use a crippled product.
We are in a new era, one where software is not so much viewed because it offers value to a user but instead viewed by whether it is worth someone’s time to learn. This because of the plethora of software (and information) available and because most people won’t realize there is value is software until after they have learned it. A software vendor’s job today needs to be to convince someone that their product is worth that person’s time to learn.