I've recently become interested in using a computer to make music. After some research, I bought a usb audio device which came with a bundle of software. I was about to call it free software, but it's not, of course.
Music software is a pretty large industry (two minutes on google fails to reveal anything concrete, but globally it is certainly at least hundreds of millions of dollars). There are several main players, some mom-and-pop outfits, and the free software crowd.
The big manufacturers have produced "Lite Edition" (LE) versions of their software, which gets bundled with hardware such as mine. The LE versions are similar to the full-featured products, except some capabilities are limited or removed.
Some of the LE software is pretty useful - I am really impressed with Cubase LE, which I've used to great effect (in my opinion; your taste in music may be different) already. It's so good, that it's doing what the manufacturer wants me to do - it makes me want to upgrade. My LE version is a couple of years old, Cubase 4.1 is out, and has all these new features which I can read about in computer music magazines (another large market, it seems). I am sorely tempted to upgrade, even if I won't use the features. I feel I've got a second-best product at the moment - I bet the Cubase marketing people would enjoy hearing that.
Other applications that came in my box are not so good. In fact, they've turned me totally off the product, and the manufacturer. I got an audio file editor, again, a cut-down version of the full product. But, too much is removed for it to be any use at all. Typically I'd use this to normalize a file - to make the loudness similar to other tracks - so that if I placed my song in a compilation along with Robbie Williams, one wouldn't be very quiet or loud. In this "lite" app, that funcion is disabled. Various other useful-looking menus were also disabled. In fact, very little was enabled. It was a very, very fustrating experience. I can't see this app actually do much, so I can't see myself upgrading to a full version. Cubase LE, on the other hand, let me get to know it well enough that I really want to use it more.To do what I had to do to my audio file, I turned to the freeware scene. Soon, I had downloaded half a dozen tools that looked promising. And amongst them was a true king. Wavosaur turned out to be a fantastic program, far better than my "lite" freebie in the box. It doesn't need an installer, it doesn't use the windows registry, you download an exe and run it, and it does one thing very, very well.
I guess there are two points to be made: I found that trialware, or crippleware, can be very fustrating, particularly alongside other bundled applications that go much further in terms of functionality, or it can be a true marketing aid - it depends how much you give the user. The second point is that there _are_ best-of-breed freeware applications out there, you just have to look for them. I've always wanted to move to Linux for my music production, and when I have time I will invest a couple of dozen hours in that.