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Electronic software distribution (ESD) is the distribution of software or data to users electronically. The approach is quite opposite to the practice of delivering software through physical media. Electronic software distribution can make use of download or streaming. Electronic software distribution has many advantages compared to distribution on physical media, for both vendors and customers.
Electronic software distribution is also known as digital distribution.
Good electronic software distribution involves not only delivering the software to users across the systems and networks, but also handling complex tasks such as verifying the software was successfully installed, and restoring older versions of software if some problem occurs. When it comes to electronic software distribution, there are mainly two approaches used by vendors, namely direct purchase and trial version. The direct purchase approach involves payment for the software by the customer, after which the full software can be downloaded from the vendor’s website. All the features and functionalities are readily available to the user and can be used right away. The trial version approach or the "try before you buy" approach involves offering customers a trial version of the software which has limited features and functionalities. The customer can purchase the full version either while using the trial version or after the evaluation period is over.
There are many significant advantages of electronic software distribution. Compared to software distribution on physical media, the cost of electronic software distribution is far less. There is also less time involved with regards to order and delivery of the software. Software vendors can offer discounts to software purchased and download over the Internet. Other benefits of electronic software distribution include maximizing of revenue, improved customer satisfaction and gaining business intelligence.