by Bill Smith, president of Elite Software

With little fanfare, there has been a quiet revolution in how HVAC software is being introduced, evaluated and distributed. Because customers expect it, the internet has created a software marketing culture where developers freely put up full versions of their software on websites for downloading and evaluation. Vendors have discovered this is an excellent way to get people to look at, and hopefully buy, their computer programs. Although resistant at first, HVAC software developers are quietly and vigorously following this trend with the result that you can now download a treasure of excellent HVAC software no matter where you are in the world.

Until a couple of years ago, the only way to really evaluate HVAC software was to look at it on a friend's computer, see it at a tradeshow or buy it outright. Of course, a few companies sold, and still sell, mail order evaluation software to encourage leisurely examination and purchase. But the internet allows all vendors, big and small, easy and wide distribution of full versions of their programs. Most of it is shareware, meaning you can try it and later buy it if you like what you see. Small developers without large marketing budgets benefit from this cost effective way to get prospects involved with their software. Users benefit because they get to evaluate software from most, if not all, vendors worldwide before making a decision.

Also often free for downloading are important upgrades to existing programs, program corrections, data and equipment files, latest beta software, new program features and other accessory programs. Because it is easy for a software company to let you download any of these, there is often no charge. This way, they and you save the cost of diskettes, handling and shipping plus you get it right away without waiting. In addition to downloading software, the internet lets you gather lots of product information, look at program screens, read user case histories and go through step by step tutorials. Some companies will even give you a discount for ordering online.

Other important software offerings include an ever increasing number of programs from all the major HVAC equipment manufacturers and related vendors. These include free software for equipment selection and installation, monitoring, refrigerant recovery and inventory management.

Even the large software repositories now have tons of HVAC software among their thousands of general purpose shareware programs. A good one to visit is ZDNET's big site, As an example of the growing popularity of downloading, Elite Software averages over 300 downloads per day and recently added a new dedicated server just to handle the demand. To begin your search for a treasure of the latest HVAC software, put the magical key words, "HVAC software", into your favorite search engine. The report you receive will direct you to a long hyperlinked list of software vendors who want you to look at their software.

The immediacy of internet means you can download the latest HVAC software now and avoid mail order time delays. At Elite, we get several customers daily who need a program, such as load calculations, to take care of a rush project that very day. Take advantage of this new trend in HVAC software - it really is a world wide internet and just a data call away.

Mr. Smith welcomes your email about this article. - email

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