Freeware
Overview
 
Freeware is computer software
Computer software
Computer software, or just software, is a collection of computer programs and related data that provide the instructions for telling a computer what to do and how to do it....

 that is available for use at no cost or for an optional fee, but usually with one or more restricted usage rights. Freeware is in contrast to commercial software
Commercial software
Commercial software, or less commonly, payware, is computer software that is produced for sale or that serves commercial purposes.Commercial software is most often proprietary software, but free software packages may also be commercial software....

, which is typically sold for profit, but might be distributed for a business or commercial purpose in the aim to expand the marketshare of a "premium" product. Freeware is a loosely defined category and it has no clear accepted definition.
Encyclopedia
Freeware is computer software
Computer software
Computer software, or just software, is a collection of computer programs and related data that provide the instructions for telling a computer what to do and how to do it....

 that is available for use at no cost or for an optional fee, but usually with one or more restricted usage rights. Freeware is in contrast to commercial software
Commercial software
Commercial software, or less commonly, payware, is computer software that is produced for sale or that serves commercial purposes.Commercial software is most often proprietary software, but free software packages may also be commercial software....

, which is typically sold for profit, but might be distributed for a business or commercial purpose in the aim to expand the marketshare of a "premium" product. Freeware is a loosely defined category and it has no clear accepted definition. The term "freeware" is commonly used for closed source or proprietary software
Proprietary software
Proprietary software is computer software licensed under exclusive legal right of the copyright holder. The licensee is given the right to use the software under certain conditions, while restricted from other uses, such as modification, further distribution, or reverse engineering.Complementary...

, but since the term is related to price (and not issues like license terms, availability of the source code or copyright status) it can also be applied to free software
Free software
Free software, software libre or libre software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with restrictions that only ensure that further recipients can also do...

/open-source software
Open-source software
Open-source software is computer software that is available in source code form: the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under a software license that permits users to study, change, improve and at times also to distribute the software.Open...

. Popular examples of freeware include Google Chrome
Google Chrome
Google Chrome is a web browser developed by Google that uses the WebKit layout engine. It was first released as a beta version for Microsoft Windows on September 2, 2008, and the public stable release was on December 11, 2008. The name is derived from the graphical user interface frame, or...

 or Adobe Flash Player
Adobe Flash Player
The Adobe Flash Player is software for viewing multimedia, Rich Internet Applications and streaming video and audio, on a computer web browser or on supported mobile devices. Flash Player runs SWF files that can be created by the Adobe Flash authoring tool, by Adobe Flex or by a number of other...

. Popular examples of free/open source software which is sometimes referred to as freeware, include Firefox or 7-Zip
7-Zip
7-Zip is an open source file archiver. 7-Zip operates with the 7z archive format, but can read and write several other archive formats. The program can be used from a command line interface, graphical user interface, or with Microsoft Windows shell integration. 7-Zip began in 1999 and is actively...

.

History

The term freeware was coined by Andrew Fluegelman
Andrew Fluegelman
Andrew Cardozo Fluegelman was a publisher, photographer, programmer and attorney best known as the inventor of what is now known as the shareware business model for software marketing...

 when he wanted to sell a communications program named PC-Talk
PC-Talk
PC-Talk was a communications software program. It was one of the first three widely popular software products sold via the marketing method that became known as shareware...

 that he had created but for which he did not wish to use traditional methods of distribution because of their cost. Fluegelman actually distributed PC-Talk via a process now referred to as shareware
Shareware
The term shareware is a proprietary software that is provided to users without payment on a trial basis and is often limited by any combination of functionality, availability, or convenience. Shareware is often offered as a download from an Internet website or as a compact disc included with a...

. Current use of the term freeware does not necessarily match the original concept by Andrew Fluegelman.

The term freeware was used often in the 1980s for programs released only as executables, with source code not available.

Software license

Software classified as freeware is licensed at no cost and is either fully functional for an unlimited time; or has only basic functions enabled with a fully functional version available commercially or as shareware. In contrast to free software
Free software
Free software, software libre or libre software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with restrictions that only ensure that further recipients can also do...

, the author usually restricts one or more rights of the user, including the rights to copy, distribute, modify and make derivative works of the software or extract the source code. The software license may impose additional restrictions on the type of use including personal use, private use, individual use, non-profit use, non-commercial use, academic use, educational use, use in charity or humanitarian
Humanitarian Use Licenses
Humanitarian Use Licenses are provisions in a license whereby inventors and technology suppliers protect in advance the possibility of sharing their technology with people in need. Thus, Humanitarian Use Licenses set the conditions for the provision of access to innovations for people in need at a...

 organisations, non-military use, use by public authorities or various other combinations of these type of restrictions. For instance, the license may be "free for private, non-commercial use". The software license may also impose various other restrictions, such as restricted use over a network, restricted use on a server, restricted use in a combination with some types of other software or with some hardware devices, etc.

Distinctions from other software licenses

The Free Software Foundation
Free Software Foundation
The Free Software Foundation is a non-profit corporation founded by Richard Stallman on 4 October 1985 to support the free software movement, a copyleft-based movement which aims to promote the universal freedom to create, distribute and modify computer software...

 (FSF) has formally defined the term "Free software" in 1986 and requested that people avoid referring to "Free Software" as "freeware". Members of FOSS community believe that "freedom to use" implies that the end user is free to run, study, modify, and distribute the software with minimal restriction.

Freeware is also distinct from shareware
Shareware
The term shareware is a proprietary software that is provided to users without payment on a trial basis and is often limited by any combination of functionality, availability, or convenience. Shareware is often offered as a download from an Internet website or as a compact disc included with a...

; the latter obliges the user to pay after some trial period or to gain additional functionality.
Sometimes, the class of shareware produced without a time limit, but with intentionally-limited functionality is erroneously referred to as freeware. This "freeware" is easily identified by an option to upgrade for a more enhanced version, e.g: basic version upgrades to "Pro" version.

Many freeware products are developed by commercial developers alongside an expanded product with more features which is sold for profit. This type of freeware is released as a type of promotion for the other product, which is often based on the same code base with only a compiler flag required to produce the free version. The BBEdit
BBEdit
BBEdit is a proprietary text editor made by Bare Bones Software. It was originally developed for Macintosh System Software 6 and is now available for Mac OS X.BBEdit is marketed under the trademark slogan, "It doesn't suck."-History:...

, BBEdit Lite
BBEdit Lite
BBEdit Lite is a freeware text editor by Bare Bones Software, created as a low-cost, stripped-down or "lightweight" version of their flagship product BBEdit. BBEdit Lite had many of the same features as BBEdit such as regular expressions, a plug-in architecture and the same text editing engine...

 and TextWrangler
TextWrangler
TextWrangler is a text editor for Mac OS X from Bare Bones Software. It was originally a commercial product, but has become the freeware alternative to their flagship editor, BBEdit, and the successor to their previous freeware editor, BBEdit Lite.Like BBEdit, TextWrangler is not a word processor...

 text editors for the Macintosh
Macintosh
The Macintosh , or Mac, is a series of several lines of personal computers designed, developed, and marketed by Apple Inc. The first Macintosh was introduced by Apple's then-chairman Steve Jobs on January 24, 1984; it was the first commercially successful personal computer to feature a mouse and a...

 are an example of this model of freeware.

Method of distribution

Freeware cannot economically rely on commercial promotion. Thus the internet is the primary resource for information on which freeware is available, useful, and is not malware
Malware
Malware, short for malicious software, consists of programming that is designed to disrupt or deny operation, gather information that leads to loss of privacy or exploitation, or gain unauthorized access to system resources, or that otherwise exhibits abusive behavior...

. However, there are also many computer magazines or newspapers that provide ratings for freeware and include compact discs or other storage media containing freeware.

Criticism

The pure freeware model of software development has been criticized as "unsustainable" because it requires a single entity to be responsible for updating and enhancing the product, which is then given away for free. Most successful freeware products have been ad-supported or "freemium
Freemium
Freemium is a business model that works by offering a product or service free of charge while charging a premium for advanced features, functionality, or related products and services...

" in which the free product serves to promote a commercial offering.http://www.zdnet.com/blog/saas/free-is-not-a-business-model/807 Other freeware projects are simply released as one off programs with no promise or expectation of further development. These may include source code
Source code
In computer science, source code is text written using the format and syntax of the programming language that it is being written in. Such a language is specially designed to facilitate the work of computer programmers, who specify the actions to be performed by a computer mostly by writing source...

, in the case of open source software, so that a user can make any required or desired changes themselves.

See also

  • Free software movement
    Free software movement
    The free software movement is a social and political movement with the goal of ensuring software users' four basic freedoms: the freedom to run their software, to study and change their software, and to redistribute copies with or without changes. The alternative terms "software libre", "open...

  • Gratis versus Libre
    Gratis versus Libre
    Gratis versus libre is the distinction between two meanings of the English adjective "free"; namely, "for zero price" and "with little or no restriction"...

  • Shareware
    Shareware
    The term shareware is a proprietary software that is provided to users without payment on a trial basis and is often limited by any combination of functionality, availability, or convenience. Shareware is often offered as a download from an Internet website or as a compact disc included with a...

  • List of commercial video games released as freeware
  • List of freeware video games
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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