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» Online Classroom   » Tech Support   » Software registration process   » 2. Why is registration required...

Author Topic: 2. Why is registration required...
David Burch

 - posted February 08, 2003 03:40 PM      Profile for David Burch           Edit/Delete Post 
Why do sofware companies require registration now when in the past is was voluntary?

There are several reasons for this, which benefit the user as well as the producer.

(1) First, it is only fairly recently that the Internet has become a useful means of worldwide distribution of software, direct to users. These days, most software products can be downloaded from the Internet, and this is a convenient cost effective means of delivery to many users. Shopping can be done at home and users are confident that they are purchasing the latest version without need for updating. With Internet delivery, users also save shipping and handling and usually there is a discount in purchase price compared to a packaged product. As more and more users have access to fast Internet connections, this means of software delivery will become more prevalent.

Needless to say, if complete working versions of a software product can be easily downloaded from any place in the world at any time, some means of locking the delivered product and then unlocking it when purchased is required. And that is what the registration process accomplishes.

(2) All software products eventually need to be updated with either new or improved features or to remove any errors or bugs that might be discovered. Once a product has been registered, the user can simply download the latest edition to bring their product up to latest standards. Very convenient, free updates to all software products is one of the main virtues of the registration process. There is no need to contact the seller or producer of the product. Just check the Internet source of the product for latest date and notes on changes, and update your product in minutes.

(3) Registration also provides users with proof of purchase for lost programs or CDs. Over the years we have received numerous requests to replace software lost, destroyed, or stolen. Often we are in quandary as to how to confirm the purchase when it was not originally purchased from us but from one of our resellers and the software was not registered. In the past when registration was purely optional—although equally valuable—we found that only about 10% of software purchases were registered, and indeed most of the requests for software replacement were for products that were not registered. With registration this is not an issue. Your registration has protected your purchase. Just download a new edition and install into the same computer. No further registration is required for re-installing into the same computer. If one does not have Internet connections, we are happy to replace the CDs for a modest handling charge for registered products. From your earlier registration we can also tell you your serial number if that has been lost as well.

(4) A unique new benefit of software registration at Starpath is our online discussion groups. Your Starpath serial number is your ticket (called a webcard) into this online classroom. If you have any questions whatsoever about the use or content of your products, you can post a question in the appropriate forum for a quick and professional answer. We are confident users will find that the brief inconvenience of the registration process will more than be compensated by this value added to their purchase, not to mention the values mentioned above. (Online registration takes just a few minutes and is almost completely automated, or we will do it for you over the phone if you do not have Internet access.)

(5) And finally there is the issue of protecting your investment and our investment. The same technological developments that make legitimate distribution of software so convenient, also makes the illegitimate distribution equally as easy. Recent developments in high-speed, inexpensive CD duplication has only contributed to the exposure. This is certainly a much bigger issue for sales and distribution outside of the US than it is within the US, and it is also much more of an issue with some products more than others. Many software resellers outside of the US will simply not stock software that does not require registration.

After more than 20 years in business, we still have no reason at all to doubt that the vast majority of Starpath customers make every effort to respect and protect the copyright of the software licenses they have purchased. We are pleased to be working with responsible users who recognize and acknowledge the contributions we have made to marine education. But these days we are all more vulnerable to a single accident. Just one lost or stolen CD of a product that took years to develop could change the entire fate of the product. In the modern days of the internet with electronic newsgroups, mass mailings, very effective search engines, and so forth, illegal copies of software products can be distributed worldwide in a matter of hours.

Recent developments in electronic printing also affect the distribution of e-book products. In the past, the very cost of printing and reproducing a book from an electronic file would prohibit its illegal distribution on a large scale, but this is no longer the case. The same files we distribute as e-books in our course materials are the ones we send to the printers to make our printed books. An electronic file these days can be e-mailed to a printer one day and a hundred books delivered the next and the cost would not be much more than duplicating it page by page on a photocopier. The world of “information technology” has changed in the past several years, and we must all change with it or be left behind.

Modern software products are very expensive to produce, package, and implement electronically. Just the mundane issue of making a program these days that will install smoothly into everything from Win95 to WinXP is an extraordinary effort in itself, and when the subject matter is one like celestial navigation that has such a limited market, we have no choice at all but to restrict the distribution of this work to those who have purchased it. Our prices are fair and the value and content is high. If we are not compensated for our work we cannot stay in business and the maritime community as a whole will suffer if we are not there to make new materials — we are confident that past users of our products would agree that they have benefited from our work.

We hope that users can understand from these notes the reason for the process, but with all that technology aside, we remain a navigation school, with more than 20,000 past classroom students — not to mention our home study and online students — and we are standing by in the old-fashioned way to answer any question that might arise IN PERSON. Please do not hesitate to contact us if any question should arise.

From: Starpath, Seattle, WA

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