There are two rules that you should follow when buying heavily discounted software. Rule one, generally the better the price the more restrictions that govern it, make sure that you understand what you're buying before you buy it, it may not be what you expect. Rule two, there are a lot of businesses selling counterfeit media over the Internet, so be careful where you buy your software.
Below is a list of common types of discounts that are offered by several different software companies. Although not all software companies offer them or they may not apply to all products.
- Street Price: This is the price most people pay for a product from a retailer. It's generally 10-40% below the suggested retail price, but this all depends on where you buy the software. If you don't know where to start, check out the following companies:
- Upgrade Price: This is a discount offered by a company if you're upgrading to the latest version of the product from a previous version. (Note: generally evidence of a previous installation is required. Meaning that upgrade process will check your computer or the application media in order take advantage of the discounted product) Also, sometimes a competitive upgrade is offered if you own a competing product.
- OEM Pricing: Depending on the product, you can buy OEMs (which stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer) versions of software from business that build computers. Generally this software is sold at a substantial discount, but also comes with special restrictions (such as: it doesn't qualify to be upgraded to the next version).
- Education/Academic Discounts: This is the price that students and educators will pay for a full or stripped down version of a product. Depending on the product, the qualifications can be pretty liberal (make sure to check with the retailer or manufacture for the qualifying details) or restrictive (such as: the application can't be used for commercial purposes or it doesn't qualify to be upgraded to the next version). For example, Adobe offers educational versions of their higher-end products that are greatly discounted.
- Employee/Employer Discounts: This benefit can vary from employer to employer depending on the relationships that they have with the software developer. For example, Microsoft offers their Home Use Program to customers that have their Volume Licensing Software Assurance. Contact your employer to see if you qualify for this type of discount, and find out the cost and restrictions.
Warning: When buying any software, especially from sites that you never dealt with before or from auction sites (such as eBay) you need to be very careful of counterfeit software.