Contents of the SHAREWAR.DOC file
"Shareware: A Vital Part of the PC Industry"
(PC WEEK, February 12, 1990)
When the first rumblings of the computer virus scare
began to shake computing environments, we began to look for a
magic shield that would somehow protect corporate PC's from
Among the precautions offered by some computer
security experts was a blanket injunction to avoid using
shareware -- the relatively inexpensive software most
commonly associated with mom-and-pop vendors who distribute
via electronic bulletin boards.
We reported that advice and were summarily bombarded
by cries of "Foul!" from a slew of shareware vendors.
Shareware is safe, they argued -- sometimes safer than
shrink-wrapped software. What's more, the shareware vendors
told us, many corporate PC users make shareware a central
part of their software libraries.
We did some checking with corporate users, and they
told us the vendors were right.
There's no reason to stay away from shareware because
of a virus threat. What's important is to get your software
from a safe source -- a well-known bulletin board such as
CompuServe, the vendor itself or even a retailer.
Stay away from shareware that's passed hand to hand
or downloaded from a little-known bulletin-board service run
out of someone's spare bedroom. [SCRIBE'S NOTE: Remember
he's talking about CORPORATE, not PERSONAL, use of
shareware. Besides, I'm sure the sysop's "spare bedroom" is
Performing a virus scan on any software you buy and
enforcing proper backup procedures doesn't hurt, either.
Especially heartening was the level of service users
reported getting from the shareware companies, which are
significantly smaller than the giants that dominate the
Not only do some shareware firms turn out high-
quality software at a reasonable price, users said, but the
shareware vendors often do a better job of listening to
customers than do the mainline software developers.
In these days of multibillion-dollar mergers and
takeovers, it's good to see that mom-and-pop entrepreneurs
still have something truly worthwhile to offer corporate
It's a sign that the grass-roots innovation and
creativity that launched and spurred the growth of this
industry have not disappeared. And we're happy to set the
record straight about the safety of shareware.