Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Registration Common with Free Software

One screen WinPatrol users will now see during install is a registration screen. Over the years many friends in the industry have wondered why I never asked for any kind of registration info. This year they convinced me why it was beneficial for both WinPatrol and its users. Aside from a handful of Emails most everyone seems to think it's a normal request. Even my most privacy conscious users aren't concerned because they realize you can always say you're Mickey Mouse and WinPatrol will continue to install.


WinPatrol remains free as it always has. It's important for the future of WinPatrol to know how many users are installing  new versions. I can now tell if an install was successful and how soon after an announcement or promotion most installations occur. I have a better idea how many free versions are used versus PLUS memberships. Even with fake names or emails I can estimate the average number of installs by a single download.

When a user enters real information it provides even more value for everyone involved and there’s less risk than most forms you’ll ever fill in.. I've had access to plenty of Email addresses and personal info over many years and you won't find anyone complain about their data has been sold or misused. I consider all information a trust that I take seriously. 

When someone requires support it may be useful to know what version they last installed and especially if they recently undated. Registration look up will be an extra step for me but it can save an extra email exchange. While I've never had a reason in over15 years, what if some kind of bug or compatibility in a new version turns out to be harmful to your computer? A proper registration will allow me to notify users of a recall.

I won’t deny that registration also allows me the track down systems which are using WinPatrol PLUS illegally. It really isn't the reason behind the registration but it has already encouraged some long time fans to become legit lifetime PLUS members. If I really wanted to stop all illegal users I could, but it would also be a full time job. I’d rather spend my time making improvements to the software.

The benefits of the registration has already helped. The information available on my web stats does not provide accurate count of how many computers use WinPatrol.  Instead of knowing how many downloads we had, I can now know how many machines are protected.  I also never had an accurate count of downloads from alternate websites like CNET, PC World,, and dozens of others, many in non-English speaking regions. Some times people download WinPatrol but forget to install it. I’ve even had phone calls from people who don’t remember upgrading to PLUS and wonder who I am and how I got their credit card. Many installed and/or upgraded to WinPatrol PLUS in the middle of the night when they were intoxicated or half-asleep. Having a data trail helps everyone.

I received two Emails from folks who said they no longer planned on using WinPatrol. This makes me sad even if they never planned on upgrading to PLUS. I create this post to address their concerns. I would never want anyone to think I’d sell their information or not keep it secure. I am pleased to report that our new version has still been successfully installed on over 24,000 machines.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pls make the registration optional. If you just want to know where Winpatrol is used then just ask for the country. Asking for name and email is a no-no for me. You do that if you want to mask sending user promotionals and subscriptions. Registration only makes sense if you need to send a key because user bought Pro or if you like to know if the software is actively used like in the case of Avast. Avast Free sends a key so that Avast will know if user indeed activated key so they have an idea how many active users there really are. I know Free needs to be updated manually. If there's an emergency then inform user of important update via systray or autoupdate (push the updated to) the software. Simple. Besides, without the registration, I know you have an idea where Winpatrol is used anyway.

Btw, latest Winpatrol installer doesn't removed previous installation if you over install. Haven't rebooted yet. But in previous updates it removed previous even without restarting.


5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but why not post my comment on making Winpatrol registration optional? I thought we're all about free speech here?

5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see why anyone would object to using their name and email address with registration.

Unless, of course, they have something to hide????

5:15 PM  

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