So I found out that Finale Music will no longer be providing its basic NotePad product for free beginning with its 2009 version. Here is what the company says on its website:
September 4, 2008
Dear Finale NotePad user,
We’re writing today to share some exciting news surrounding the upcoming release of Finale NotePad®.
When it was first released in 2000, the initial idea behind NotePad was that it would work like an “Adobe Reader” for music notation, letting anyone open, play, and print any Finale file. Since then more than four million educators, students, and other musicians have downloaded and made excellent use of Finale NotePad.
In the intervening years NotePad’s feature set has been greatly expanded. Recent additions include guitar and bass tablature, MIDI file import/export, step‐time entry, and MIDI playback. Even so, we continue to receive requests for additional functionality, and this year NotePad has reached a crossroads.
In the next few weeks we plan to release Finale NotePad 2009 with even more features, including an all new Expression Tool and the ability to import/export MusicXML files. It will continue to include free online support. At the same time we will begin charging $9.95 for the NotePad 2009 download.
Then, within the month, we will also release our Finale Reader™. The Finale Reader will be able to open, play, and print (but not edit) any Finale family file – as well as MusicXML files – and it will be a free download.
Please note that with the release of the Finale Reader, we will no longer offer previous versions of NotePad from our site. Keep in mind that among the many advantages in NotePad 2009 is its ability to import/export MusicXML files: this means that it can save files that can be opened in earlier versions of Finale.
We hope you agree that these changes represent an excellent balance between free reader software and low‐cost notation creation software.
Best wishes in your music making,
John Paulson and Ron Raup
So get it while you can...