Bits & P.C.s: FYI

Bits & P.C.s: FYI

By Richard Heller


Computer software is kind of a unique item; you buy it, but you don’t own it. If you read the End User License Agreement (EULA) included with every software package that you have, you will discover that you are actually paying a license fee to use the software. The terms of the agreement usually state that you may use it only on one computer, though it may allow you to install it on your home computer and your office computer if only one person can use the program at a time.

With product activation, you will no longer be able to install the program on more than one computer. The company may offer special pricing on a second copy; otherwise, you will have to purchase two copies of the program.

Some companies are using a little different technique in order to assure that the program can only be used on one computer at a time. They do this by allowing you to create a key floppy disk that contains the information necessary for the program to function. You can install the program on as many computers are you want, but the floppy disk has to be used to activate the program. When you want to run the program on a different computer, the special floppy has to be used or the program won’t work, and yes, the program can detect if you are trying to use a copy of the floppy.

What the software companies are working towards is a Microsoft invention named .NET. Rather than going into a store and purchasing a copy of the program, you will go online and pay a monthly fee in order to use the program. All the key files will reside on the software company’s server, the data files will either reside on you home computer, or the company may offer you a certain amount of storage space.

The reasoning behind this is that you will always have the most up-to-date version of the program. Of course, a high-speed Internet connection is going to become a necessity, or else you will be waiting a long time while the program loads.

The actual reason for this method of software delivery is economics. The software companies will eliminate the wholesaler, the retailer, and they are assured that the only people who are using their program will be the ones who are paying for it.

The disadvantage of this method is that you will be at the mercy of the software company. If their server is down, you will not be able to run the program. If the company goes out of business, you will not be able to run the program; worse yet, if your data files are on their server, they will be lost. If they decide to discontinue the program, you will have to switch to another program and hope that you can use your existing data files.

It’s going to be interesting to see how well this is received by corporate America.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail

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