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Why Would You Pay for Free Software?

Oct 15, 2009, 15:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Charlie Schluting)

[ Thanks to Michael Hall for this link. ]

"Dependence on a product and insurance go hand-in-hand. If you rely on an excellent piece of software, no matter how excellent it is, something might someday go wrong. When that happens, who better to call than a small company where support engineers will have access to the actual developers? Of course, you also have a service level agreement (SLA) with that company, guaranteeing a certain response time.

"More often than we like to admit, we are stuck with a crappy product. It is the only option, it would cost too much to replace, or we cannot admit to choosing poorly. Whatever the reason, we need help just making the crappy product behave as advertised, so support is required.

"Conversely, a good product may also elicit a need to purchase support, but for very different reasons. Aside from insurance or an SLA, we may feel a certain obligation to support the developers. First, they wrote a wonderful piece of software that we depend on and that saves us untold amounts of time. Second, we need to ensure that the project will continue. Finally, we may wish to "sponsor" certain features, rather than code them ourselves."

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