Warning: Expired Demos Causing Problems?

Over the past year, between my Palm IIIC and now my Treo 300, I think I have now encountered at least three to four instances where expired demo software has caused mysterious malfunctioning on my pda.

I am not going to name the products because they are otherwise excellent software and I could still be wrong, but I think it would be helpful to bring this issue up for both users and developers.

The problem does not arise with standalone programs. After all, if you go to use an app and the demo tells you it expired, that's all you need to know - you either then purchase the unlock code as instructed (although I actually ran into one demo that told me it was expired but didn't offer even a clue, let alone instructions, as to how or where to go to buy the poor guy's product); or you simply delete it.

The problem I believe arises with apps or hacks that are designed to work behind the scenes, adding or enhancing a function in the use of your pda or pda/phone. When the demo expires, you get no notice, and if the added functionality was a subtle one, you may not even notice it's missing. Worse, as I mentioned above, I think that in 3 or 4 instances, the expired demo then contributed to mysterious malfunctioning of my Palm IIIc and Treo 300.

Of course if we all had perfect memories or were compulsive record-keepers, we wouldn't have been motivated to buy palm devices in the first place to track things for us, so it is unfair for developers to think we as users are going to remember and/or keep track of all this installed demo stuff either in our heads or with paper and pencil.

Therefore, to users I post this as some sort of a warning to watch out for expired demo apps and hacks and consider them as first not last suspects when unrelated malfunctions arise on your palm device.

And to developers, I would suggest that, for "behind-the-scenes" type apps and hacks, you try to come up with some scheme for your demoes that announces that the expiration date has passed, maybe when the pda is turned on, without the user having to go to your software and try to use it before knowing. After all, not only would that benefit your user base, but it would probably convert more demos into sales. If this is not possible to do, then at least ensure that whatever your expired demo stops doing, or now starts doing, doesn't cause malfunctions to the user's pda.