Search online for software
Whether you bought your computer for a new hobby, for business, or to keep in touch with your friends and family, one of the first things you should know is how to fill it with helpful software programs. Here’s a run down some of the different types available and their web site addresses:
This is the kind of software most familiar to beginner users. You buy it in a shrink-wrapped package at a computer store. Some companies also sell direct to consumers via their web sites or online stores like FutureShop (http://www.futureshop.ca).
Sometimes available on CDs or floppy disks, shareware is sold in stores and computer trade shows. But it’s mainly distributed via web sites called software archives. Most of the time, shareware products are sold on a try before you buy agreement.
Experienced Internet users call some shareware “crippleware”, because it is designed to be crippled or to stop working after a period of time. Other shareware may come with certain features that are disabled, or feature a “nag” screen that periodically pops up to remind youo register the program.
Shareware programs can be surprisingly complex and full-featured, and there are some products available in shareware that are equally matched with their much pricier commercial counterparts.
These are a cross between shareware and full commercial products. They usually take the form of the first level or two of popular new game releases.
This is software that you don’t have to pay for in order to use. There may be other requirements, such as registering the software, or signing up for a mailing list.
Shareware and freeware generally do not offer any kind of technical support. You should also be careful before installing it – you never know when one computer program might interact with others in ways not intended by their programmers.
Search shareware archives
Just about anything that you find on a store-shelf is likely to be found in shareware archives. There are games galore, everything from arcade classics like Pac-Man to card games like Solitaire, to first person shoot-em-ups, such as the highly popular Doom.
If you have a digital camera, you’ll need image software programs to enhance and manipulate your digital pictures. You can load up on free and low-cost databases, email programs, and word-processing programs for your business.
Special interest programs
One area where shareware excels is in the special interest arena. For example, you don’t find too many cross-stitch, recipe collector or beer-lover programs at FutureShop, but you will find a huge variety of them in shareware archives.
There are even special sites devoted to hobby software like the beer software site (http://www.beerinfo.com/vlib/software.html) or one for cross-stitch software (http://crossstitch.about.com/cs/xstitchsoftware/).