It Just Doesn’t Compute

I’ve been playing around with many different types of DVD burning software before settling on what to buy. Today I decided to go with Nero and called to place my order. In the process I found out that I must buy two separate, complete packages in order to run the software on both my desktop and laptop. WTF? I told the guy on the phone that was pretty stingy policy and he said (quote) “I know, it really is.”

I guess this is a popular way to do things now – my antivirus software is the same way. I had to purchase a separate license key and subscription for each computer with no price break for being a repeat customer. The only way you get a discount on multiple purchases is if you order 10 or more, which only a business would need. Special pricing is also offered to nonprofits and educational groups. It’s individual consumers who get the raw end of the deal.

Things didn’t used to be like this a few years ago, back when it wasn’t even common for people to have more than one computer. Today, more than ever, it makes sense to allow one user to have the ability to install software on an additional computer without having to pay for it twice. Because after, it’s not like I’m cloning myself here – I am still ONE user. Lots of families have a desktop and a laptop.

There are ways to certify genuine users and limit software copying between friends without having to put these punitive restrictions in place. This new policy seems like a great excuse to get consumers to buy the same product multiple times. What’s next? Will I need to buy several copies of Pirates of the Caribbean in order to watch it on more than one DVD player?

I think it’s interesting to juxtapose this development against the growing trend of free, open-source software releases. It used to be that free software wasn’t worth the time or computer space it took to install it. But now there are so many low-cost and freeware programs available that actually perform better and have more flexibility than their pricey commercial counterparts.

Think of Thunderbird versus Outlook. One is notorious for crashing, hovers about two steps behind in design and functionality, and has a zillion security problems. The other one runs smooth, is frequently updated, and isn’t plagued with security issues. Guess which one is free? Guess which one comes bundled with a bunch of other glitchy software that will cost you around $300? I’m not sure if policy makers at the companies touting steeply priced software with restrictive licensing realize that the increasing quality, diversity, and availability of freeware may very well have a detrimental effect on their sales.

In the course of speaking with the Nero service rep I realized it’s ridiculous to pay $200 just to run a DVD burning program on two family-owned personal computers. I mean we’re talking about software that only has one application here. Unless it can do our laundry and visit the dentist for us it isn’t worth the price, you know? After just a brief search online I found a small set of perfectly functional tools that will do the exact same job. They cover everything we need and aren’t nearly as space hogging and bulky as programs like Nero. It cost us a grand total of zero dollars. Freeware rocks!

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One Response to It Just Doesn’t Compute

  1. “Will I need to buy several copies of Pirates of the Caribbean in order to watch it on more than one DVD player?” Oh, be careful, you just might give them the idea! I can see some big wig at Sony scratching his head, saying, “Hmm, now how could we get that to work?”