The terrible world of Windows shareware.

One of the discoveries that I made in switching from Windows to the Mac is that, while 98% of Windows shareware is utter garbage, 90% of Mac shareware is awesome. Whatever itch you’re looking to scratch with Windows shareware, there are two dozen competing share programs and nearly all of them suck. On the Mac there will be two, and they’re both good. There are thousands of horrible shareware websites for Windows. There are three of any note for the Mac.

Illustrating this split, a software developer recently released a piece of dummy Windows shareware to see what would happen. The program was just a text file reading “this program does nothing at all” and renamed with a .exe extension. It couldn’t even run. He even submitted a screenshot of the program, which consisted of text pointing out that the program was an experiment to see if a useless program could win shareware awards. The program promptly won sixteen separate awards for its quality. It’s available for download on 218 shareware websites, including PC World.

(And I know useless software. After I taught myself 8086 Assembly, I released a series of freeware programs to BBSs, including SimCursor and SimMelon.)

So how do you sort through the 61 genealogy programs for Windows, if you can’t trust recommendations or awards? Seriously, I have no idea.

I rely heavily on a great many shareware/donation programs on my Mac, nearly all of which I’ve paid for, including WeatherPop (weather), NewsFire (RSS), BBEdit (programming), iTerm (terminal), Cyberduck (FTP), VirtueDesktops (virtual screens), MenuCalendarClock (pop-up calendar) FlickrExport (iPhoto plugin), Sidenote (note-taking), SuperDuper (backup) and Twitteriffic (Twitter client). They are all excellent programs, and I rely utterly on many of them.

One would think that the competition of having more Windows users and more Windows programs would result in a better product. One would be wrong. The Mac beats Windows on shareware, freeware, and donationware just about every time. Also, less awards, and they’re given out sparingly. Why? Simple: We Mac users don’t have viruses or spyware; we can actually test out new programs without wondering if they’ll send our financial data to Russian mobsters and wipe out our hard drives.

(Via Daring Fireball)

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

5 replies on “The terrible world of Windows shareware.”

  1. I’ve had the same experience. I switched back to Mac earlier this year after an eight-year hiatus in Windowsland. Experimenting with shareware is a much more pleasurable experience on a Mac.

    Out of your list, CyberDuck is the only program I’ve used. I’m also using TextWrangler, which I think is a dumbed-down version of BBEdit. I’m going to check out FlickrExport and SuperDuper.

    GraphicConverter too. Great program.

  2. I’ve had the same experience, since drinking the Mac Kool-Aid. Man, I’m never going back, and I’ve been pressing my friends to switch (note that there are now SHINY Macs: ).

    I can vouch for SuperDuper (does what it says). I will try some of the others that you mention.


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