The average user of today has come to expect that everything from software to mobile games should cost nothing to use, at least at a basic level.
But of course, giving products away for free really is just a signal to users that developers and publishers are using an alternative monetization method. “Free” is better translated to “nothing up front”; nearly all companies use the term as a foot-in-the-door for a premium upgrade or a way to get ad impressions.
The issue then becomes less about how much something costs in terms of price, and instead is a discussion of what balance can be struck between the needs of the developer and the needs of the user.
In the world of software and application downloads, this has created an environment where users have often fallen prey to aggressive vendors. Some ad exchanges and distribution platforms have shown that their desire to monetize often comes at the expense of the user and in some extreme cases the traffic has been monetized using unwanted Adware with very limited transparency.
Those that complain that self-regulation is unnecessarily damaging for businesses, would do well to look at our company’s growth over the last few years. At installCore we found that by emphasizing transparency and building trust between vendors and end users, not only has it not hurt developers who work with us, it’s given them increased credibility and helped them ramp up growth.
Especially with promoting advertised software, users need to trust that their vendor is giving them applications that are useful and will provide value. By creating standards we earn this trust, and it will ultimately allow us to create an even better situation in the long run for developers and users alike.
Microsoft has taken the lead in helping to create industry-wide standards that would ensure that end users are protected and supported, while still maintaining an environment where software and app developers can succeed. Our philosophy centers around the following points.
Zero Tolerance For Malware
Accidentally or knowingly advertising malware or adware (as opposed to ad-supported software) is a huge hazard to the free software industry. This practice damages the user installation experience and the credibility of our entire industry. Software delivery companies must invest heavily in screening technology or apply a manual acceptance process to make sure that these types of computer viruses and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) never get distributed.
When you download software it often comes with other components or additional software. While these components can be very beneficial and provide value, it can also become a nuisance when the reality is hidden in the fine print of a Terms & Conditions form that nobody ever reads.
Users have the right to know what they are downloading even if the applications are free of charge. Emphasizing transparency means taking extra steps to ensure that it is clear to any user exactly what is included in every download. Developers have the right to monetize, but they also have the responsibility to be clear about what they’re giving their consumers.
Ease of Uninstall
Just as important as making sure you know what you’re getting, is making sure it’s easy to get rid of it, should you choose.
Any new standard needs to demand that the uninstall process is simple and easy, so that if users are unhappy with any software downloaded, they can easily remove it. At installCore we work to make sure the uninstall process is as smooth and effective as the install process. This shows users that their concerns and needs are our primary consideration.
Self-regulation may have brought us this far, but it won’t ensure our industry’s potential for generating revenue in the future. Trust between software vendors and end-users is tantamount to the content of the software itself. It’s critical to build the credibility that is the foundation for real growth instead of just pursuing short-term monetization. The installation industry is moving towards more standardized rules that will help software developers better serve their users, while simultaneously promoting overall growth.
Established in 2010, installCore is a world leading application installation platform for premium publishers.