As the first day of the Shareware Industry Conference continues I've been thinking about how to explain the connection between Microsoft and shareware.
First off, there is a very nice history of shareware over at Paul Mayer's website, Paul's Picks.
One of the interesting things to note is that the inventor of the term "shareware", Bob Wallace, was an early (#9) employee at Microsoft and someone with whom I once shared the stage at a National Computer Conference. At NCC we were talking about the Pascal compilers we had written, Bob wrote MS-Pascal and I wrote Pascal/MT+... ah the good-old-days before the IBM PC...
These days we at Microsoft still use the shareware model, for example for our Visual Studio Express products, you have to register them within 30 days. We don't charge money (at least not for the beta versions of course) but the try-before-you-buy model is viable 22 years later even for a company as large as Microsoft.
My primary mission around shareware is to promote the use of Microsoft development tools and operating systems as development and delivery platforms. Most shareware is written for Windows and we hope that the next generation of shareware will be written in managed code.