There is the ongoing argument of free trial versus a freemium model (that is, a free-for-life version of their software with restricted and/or stripped down features) for allowing potential customers and users to test run their product. Upon my research, I can conclude that the free trial is the way to go on both for the benefit of the user experience of the individual using the software and for the benefit of the vendor in both aspect of sales and maximizing usage. There are many factors for a free trial software that can greatly maximize user usage like the length of the free trial.
One keyword that reoccurs on my research for "freemium" is "frustrating". Many individuals chose to uninstall the software instead of having to use a piece of software where some features were unavailable to them. At the same time, these users never had the chance to use the "paid" features. Unbeknownst to them, and hidden by the very own vendors who are selling the software, they don't know and cannot know what benefits the Pro features will bring. Without first having to use them, a user will not know they have the feeling of "needing" something. Which brings me onto my next point of a free trial model.
Some opinions of a free trial user is "I cannot imagine using this software without the Pro features." This goes back to the point of "the user not knowing they need something until they first understanding the feeling of have." Those that have had 14 days to use a the "full" version features said they cannot imagine not having or using the features provided there. So when fourteen days were over, they were more likely to dish out money than someone who's never experienced the full features. The length of the free trial is also an important factor is creating a lasting impression on users. In an experiment conducted by Visual Website Optimizer, they noticed that for a 14 day free trial versus a 30 day free trial, while the number of sign ups and installs were the same, the usage for the 14 day trial increased 102%. This, of course, in turn increased their revenue as well.
Another very important point to mention is that "offering a useful and fully functional free version of the product" is VERY IMPORTANT. Fully functional free trials are effective in getting media coverage, and this publicity for new software and/or software vendors are fairly crucial.
One other relevant aspect is the importance for users to give feedback. Consider, in the fully functional time-limited free trial, the ability for users to give feedback.
One other feature important for our software is the need for telemetric data, that is, quantitative and comprehensive data on how a user uses our software. Some of usage statistics may fall into a legal grey area, as laws are different depending on the location in the United States, and the world. One way to combat this legal issue is to have an opt-in feature for gathering anonymous usage statistics. An opt-in feature would mean giving the user an option to turn off statistics gathering and at the same time, the user must be very well aware of what the gathering of anonymous usage information does. It is important to make it CLEAR to the user what data will be collected, what "we" will be doing with it, and make it easy to turn off any time, including allowing them to change their mind for turning it on or off. For more detailed statistics, like tracking individual activities of users, it could lead to legal issues. The Eclipse IDE logs detailed usage statistics, but it does it by the full consent of the user. We may have to potentially prepare a consent form with our legal team.
The Eclipse Usage Information Collection collects this information: 1. Plug-ins that are started by the system. 2. Commands accessed via the keyboard shortcuts and actions invoked via menus or toolbars. 3. When the "view" of the editor is given focus. 4. System information like the version of the software being used, the operating system being used. 5. Description of internal errors.
A kill switch for our software can be managed logging the initial data, encrypting it with a salt, and whenever it's an invalid date, that is, the user tried to change it, it would disable the software. Another option is to have internet authentication on install, log that date to a central web database, and check the date every time the application is opened.
On disabling the software, we can delete vital DLLs. The option of having to pay to generate a report cannot be considered.
I am interested in implementing a free trial version to my existing software. I plan on having the trial last 14 days. Upon the 14th day, my software would prompt the user to either pay for the paid version, or have the consequence of not being able to use it. The free trial version is entirely unlocked, meaning all paid features are there.
However, my dilemma is about the "best" way to implement what to do for an end-of-trial solution. Do I delete vital DLLs? Have a user authentication system upon installation or use? Encrypt the initial time and date of use with a salt, and if it's an invalid date (AKA they try to change their initial date), disable the software?
I am interested in knowing what are some effective measures of disabling software.