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Graphical software licenses: a good idea?

Mat Lu

Over at the Switcher's Blog (which is actually the blog for browser form manger 1Passwd) they're crowing about their new innovation: software License Cards. These are basically just graphic files that contain the registration information embedded in them. These "cards" are emailed to customers, and the registration is achieved by dragging and dropping the card on the application. They claim these cards are much more Mac-like than the standard method of a hex code.

While there's something to that, I don't like this idea as a complete replacement for registration codes for one simple reason: it requires me to keep these card files. With text registration codes it's very easy to keep a list of them in a plaintext file. For instance when I register software I immediately add the new code to my local registration text file, then I email it, as plain text, to myself for backup. I realize that I could email myself these cards as attachments, but it just adds an extra layer of complexity. If every developer used these things, I'd quickly end up with a ridiculous collection of these cards. Further, as some have pointed out, this also precludes printing out and keeping a hard copy of the codes. (All these points apply as well to the related practice of program specific binary keys such as used by Pukka and Overflow).

So I have a simple suggestion. Why not use both? In fact, the hex code could be "printed" on the face card itself. That way old curmudgeons like me could keep doing it the old way, but whatever putative benefits these cards offer would still be there. So what do you think? Do you like the idea of License Cards?

[Via Digg]

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