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free downloads

by frontblatt / March 6, 2010 5:16 PM PST

I would like to see a ban on all software vendors within CNET that decieve the public in thinking they are giving away software for free by advertizing free downloads. Of course, all downloads are always free. Letting the poor victim download and install the ware and then asking for payments without even given you a trial period. That is criminal because even after un install, there is always something that is left behind by those croocks.

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Totally agree
by whitemocha / March 6, 2010 11:56 PM PST
In reply to: free downloads

I lost a lot of respect for CNet once I tried to dl from their site. Was shocked such a highly reputable site would allow such cr@p to be fed to us. If they don't have time to assure dl's are safe for their members, don't provide the link...being on the site implies their approval, which they in-fine-print will sometimes tell you they're not liable for any cr@p links they provide on their site. Unforgivable.

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Need details
by rafe CNET staff / March 9, 2010 7:08 AM PST
In reply to: free downloads

Please provide link or product name so the team can investigate. Thanks.

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Re: free downloads
by peterbutler staff / March 9, 2010 7:26 AM PST
In reply to: free downloads

Hi, frontblatt. I'm sorry you've had some trouble with some of our "free" or "free to try" products.

You can read our Software Policies on our self-service publisher upload site

Specifically, here is the section that addresses "product usability," i.e. the minimum of functionality that freeware and trialware must provide for us to list the products in our catalog:

"At minimum, software products submitted to our library must be working demos, and we will only accept free products or functional trial versions that allow users to experience the software adequately. We will not accept slide shows of a product or self-running demos."

We realize that there is often a gray area with "Free; paid upgrade available" products. Sometimes the free versions clearly provide a functional service; other times the "free" version provides far less functionality that the paid version.

Likewise, some trials provide full functionality for a limited time. Other trials provide very limited functionality. It's up to our production team to decide if the software lets users "experience the software adequately" and we try to do our best when evaluating each product.

In all cases, the limitations of the trial should be listed on the product detail page. If they are not, that is a production error on our end that should be fixed.

(We also now accept "purchase-only" products that do not offer a trial, but these products should be clearly labeled as "purchase only.")

If you have any specific products that you do not believe should be listed as "free" or "free to try," please contact me directly and send me a list.

An e-mail link for me can be found on be CNET profile page:

There is a link in the right column that says "E-mail Peter."

Again, I apologize for any problems you've had with some of the free and trial software on CNET or the CBSi software network.

Thanks for your feedback,
Peter Butler
Senior Content Manager

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Re; free download
by frontblatt / March 9, 2010 9:40 AM PST
In reply to: Re: free downloads

Hi Peter,
Probably to hard to remember every name. One that particularly stood out was to do with fixing the Registry. But why not make a rule that unless they are up front with pricing, CNET will not promote them? This way integrety is maintained!

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Cnet downloads
by whitemocha / March 9, 2010 9:38 PM PST
In reply to: Re; free download

Again, I agree 100%. It's hard to remember because I 'learned my lesson' about a year ago. About a year and a half ago I dl more than one offer and being very careful about dl's, read everything thoroughly. I believe those were the shocker you-must-pay-to-open ones. It's so good to hear that was never intended by CNET and you'll watch those guys or increase clarity of what we're about to dl. And yes, it was a registry cleaner or something to do with the registry that destroyed my computer.

It's the one and only time since owning a PC in ten years that anything has attacked or killed my computer, so I remember it well. Apologies that the complaint may be historic, but the wounds remained fresh. With your replies, the little cringes that come with the name 'CNET' can finally dissipate and my feelings about it can get realigned with your public rep with again. Happy Ahhh, nice, thank you.

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Re: free downloads
by peterbutler staff / March 11, 2010 1:52 AM PST
In reply to: Re; free download

Hi, frontblatt.

I think that there's is going to be some variations in what different software users and publishers consider to be "reasonable functionality" in trialware.

The most important issue, as I see it, is transparency, that is, making it clear to site users exactly what the file download/trial offers. The limitations for each trial should be clearly listed on each of the CNET Downloads product-detail pages, in the "Price" section.

You don't mention a specific Registry program, but many trials limit the number of Registry keys or types of Registry keys that they fix. That's an acceptable limitation to us.


"Price: Free to try (First 6 sections repairing trial); $29.95 to buy"

If you have some specific products that you think do not provide a reasonable level of functionality for users, pass them along and I will investigate. Likewise, if you think that CNET is representing some programs inaccurately in its "Price" descriptions, please let me know what those programs are as well.

Thanks again for the feedback. I realize sometimes it can be frustrating to be heard. Your concerns have been shared with the site leadership.


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by guytaur1 / March 18, 2010 10:58 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: free downloads

Just a suggestion to help transparency.

If a vendor advertises Free then that is what it is. NO strings or qualifications.
IE The software is classified freeware under a free license.

NOT a free trial period and then you can buy. This is because you pay.
I do like your Free to Try category. Very clear indeed.

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