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Buy Your Software Over The Internet And Save Some Cash

Sandra Prior
Jun 7, 2008
Theoretically, software is the ideal item to buy over the Internet. Choose your program, hand over your credit card number and before you know it, your new software has been downloaded on to your computer and is ready to run. In practice though, things aren't quite that simple.

Many applications, especially games, are far too big to download over a modem and even if you could, you would miss out on all the documentation and that lovely big box you never know what to do with.

The bulk of paid-for software sales on the Net still go through outlets selling boxed programs, but the number of pay-to-download options is growing, especially with the increasing respectability of shareware. Many small utilities such as WinZip can be paid for online, enabling computer users to save their consciences by registering programs that they've used way beyond the specified trial period. In any case, the nag screen becomes terribly annoying, and you may as well pay the few bucks for it.

If you do buy some software - commercial or otherwise - by downloading it and paying with your credit card, make sure you keep a record of the transaction somewhere other than on your computer. Should the worst happen and your hard disk throws itself off a tall building, it'll take ages to pick up the pieces of your digital life and you'll need some proof of purchase to give to the retailer so it'll let you download the program again.

But for the time being, it's boxed software we're after - the cheapest place to buy McAfee, or MSOffice. An increasing number of software publishers are selling direct over the Net, but few games publishers do so because the high street retailers that are so important to a game's success would get miffed if they were undercut online.

If you're buying an application, it's worth paying a visit to the publisher's site first - because it's cut out the middle man, it might be offering a good deal. Shop around on the Net and it won't be long before you've found your program on sale for less than it costs in the high street and as cheap as any mail order outlet.

However, the vast majority of software shops on the Net are in a parlous state. Ugly design, unhelpful search engines and badly organized directories are just the start of your worries. Few of the sites attempt to highlight new or popular programs, with most just content to let you do all the work. Take a look at Kalahari.net and you won't even see a description of their products.

The most impressive software sites are situated in the US. Many of them have clear, detailed descriptions, with plenty of bargains and a money making affiliate program. Their sites are searchable by title or category, and boast a simple ordering procedure. You will also see how cheap hardware and software is in the US. Go green with envy and smash your monitor in frustration. Remember, that US DVDs and console games may not work on unmodified kits in your own country.

It all begs the question, 'Who is going to be the Amazon.com of the software market?' If the existing shops don't get their act together, it's more than likely that it's going to be Amazon.com.
About the Author
Sandra Prior runs her own websites at http://usacomputers.rr.nu and http://sacomputers.rr.nu.
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