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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spring Cleaning: Alternatives to Buying New Software

I was recently in the process of migrating to a new computer. The "new" computer being a slightly old Compaq that was upgraded to Windows 7 from XP.  The software I was reinstalling  I found  out had reached it's limit as far as installations. These days with online registration there are limits to the number of installs you can do from the original disk. You are also limited  usually to one machine as well, so if your computer ID is different you are usually out of luck.

So if you can no longer reinstall; if you have hit your limit, what are your options? You can buy the latest version of your software but that could be a very pricy proposition.  If cost is a concern try these options.

Open Source
Is there an open source alternative to the software you need. You would be surprised as to how fully featured some of the open source software is. In most cases the software is free with the option to donate what you wish.

Educational Versions
Educational versions of software varies from free to a substantial cost reduction from retail price. The only restriction might be use for learning only and not for use on commercial projects. Also to get the special pricing you may need to prove you are either a student or an instructor by sending a copy of your school ID or having a educational email address. If the word gets out that you used software for commercial gain, be ready to pony up full pricing.

Used Software
Sometimes you can find used version that haven't had all the installs registrations used up. In some cases the original owner may need to notify the software company of a transfer of license to a new owner. Ebay could be a good resource for this.

The Upgrade
If you have registered your software and entered an email address,  most companies will contact you whenever the new version is released and offer you an upgrade to the new version at a reduced cost. Usually much cheaper than buying the new version outright.

The Non -Latest Version
What worked in my situation was purchasing the non -latest version. Very often you can find a slightly older version of the software at a significantly reduced price. Often you will find  that there might not be too much of a difference between say version 4 and 5 but the savings can be significant. Try Amazon or Ebay for this. We are talking new software that has not been opened or used it just hasn't been sold in a timely fashion. It doesn't make sense for a retailer to hang on to software that is outdated, hence savings as good as 50 to 80 percent off.  For the price of the current version of software, I purchased a non-latest software bundle (one version behind) at a huge discount, with all the functionality and two additional pieces of software for less than just the single version. One last cool thing is that because the software was slightly older,  my machine specs worked perfectly since it didn't require the latest and greatest.

Hope these tips help. Happy hunting. Don't forget to use Amazon, Ebay and Google price comparisons.

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  1. Excellent suggestions! In my experience there's almost always a perfectly good freeware or shareware alternative to expensive commercial software. The best places to find them I've found are www.alternativeto.net and www.techsupport,com.

  2. Sorry! Made a mistake, the second website I cited should have been www.techsupportalert.com. Despite the URL, the site is actually called Gizmo's Free Software.

  3. Very cool! Thanks for the input.