Why free trials of certain software programs are bad

(this is a reformatted/expanded version of a comment I made in November 2013 on the Libre Office mailing list)

Other list members where saying they saw nothing like “holding people hostage” in free trials of software:

  > >>I didn't know we considered trialware "cunning".
  > >They let people create & edit documents for a while and then hold
  > >them hostage, until the users coughs up for MS Office.
  > I wouldn't consider it either cunning or holding people hostage to
  > provide them with a free trial of software that is otherwise only
  > available for a price.

And this is what I answered:

you would be wrong, because your reasoning simply does NOT apply to software. Not to software of this kind, at least. Try a car for free for a week, give it back… no problem, because you would not lose anything you had done with, or thanks to that car in that week.

Office suites (or CAD software) based on deliberately, closed, incompatible file formats, instead are ADDICTIVE like drugs. That’s why they are given away for free. And please note that “give it away for free” doesn’t mean only “free trial periods”. It also means “donations” to NGOs and generally keeping the software very easy to pirate, so people learn it at home (1) and then throw a tantrum if their company (that can’t use pirated software) tries to migrate to something else.

(1) or are driven to do it by Public Administrations, or by their own teachers, even in public schools)