This site came up on the OGRE forums and I must say it’s a very good idea. Basically, for 24 hours they make a piece of software that is normally commercial available for free to all who download it. And don’t worry - they do it with the permission of the publisher of the software, this isn’t a warez site. Clearly the draw for them is that they get a bucketload of publicity for this short period and get in front of a load of users they probably wouldn’t otherwise have attracted.
So how does it work exactly? Well, if today’s download (Icon Constructor) is anything to go by they re-package the software with a custom installer that checks their server to see if the software is still within its 24-hour freebie period. If not, the installer isn’t any use to you anymore, so you can’t store this one up or give it to other people after this period - no doubt encouraging you to actually buy the software if you like it and have to reinstall, or if you recommend it to friends outside this period. It’s basically just like trial software except if you’re quick enough, you get a full copy. Clearly it’s only going to be worth it for publishers of relatively low-value, high-volume software but still it’s a nice twist. Given how long trial software has been around this is probably a bit of a shot in the arm in terms of publicity for those that take part - let’s face it, everyone likes free stuff.
One concern though - with Icon Constructor it appeared to just install the trial version and I then had to copy a key across from the zip package I’d downloaded. I’m not sure therefore what would stop you downloading the regular trial version at any time and using the packaged key to turn it into a full version - I can only assume that the key is very specific to the version included in the giveaway installer. Feels like it might be subject to a bit of simple hackery though - but I guess this is a relatively small additional risk over the usual chance of your key system being cracked anyway via the trial versions. Again it probably dovetails in with the revenue model of the kinds of applications using it where you’re really just aiming at attracting large numbers of regular users, and the low price point means it takes quite a dedicated or penny-pinching user to go looking for a hack for a $30 saving.
Icon Constructor is pretty cool actually - I suck incredibly badly at creating icons (unlike some people we could mention) so having a tool which makes basic ones easier is pretty handy. I might rework the incredibly sucky Ogre one later to see how it turns out. For $30 I know that if it did come in rather handy and I needed a new copy later, it wouldn’t take much for me to shell out for it. So if I’m representative of the target audience, this model seems like a good one; for certain types of product anyway.
They have an RSS feed anyway so it’s worth keeping an eye on.