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June 9, 2023updated 21 Jul 2023 3:57pm

What is Freeware?

Freeware is the least restrictive free-of-cost software, but why?

By Tech Monitor Staff

The word ‘freeware‘ was first adopted in 1982 by Andrew Fluegelman, a publisher, programmer, attorney and photographer, renowned for pioneering freeware for software publishing.

Freeware is a type of proprietary software that people are able to use at no monetary cost. Usually, freeware cannot be modified or changed without the permission of the owner. It all depends on the kind of copyright which covers it but, compared to other free software, it is the least restrictive one.

The word Freeware on a MacBook keyboard, written in red
Freeware is mostly used by businesses for marketing purposes / Image: Shutterstock

Independent developers are often behind the development of freeware, and they publish it on their own websites or via third-party app stores. Some examples of freeware are: Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, Adobe PDF and Skype.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of freeware?

There are several advantages to the use of freeware, but also several disadvantages.

For instance, even if the software is indeed free, the developer can still make some profit by promoting their brand, collecting traffic for a website, setting up advertising or in-app purchases and earning revenue from downloads. Many freeware software will have a ‘lite’ version of it for those who are not interested in the full version.

When it comes to disadvantages, the developer usually needs to periodically update and maintain the software, which costs money. If an independent developer decides to sell the freeware to a company, the company will then need to be responsible for these charges. If there is any glitch or mistake in the organisation of the software, the owner will need to correct them free of cost for the users.

What is the difference between freeware and free software?

There are various differences between freeware and free software, the main being that the latter is published only under a licence that allows users to distribute and/or modify the product, while freeware does not have that option.

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Free software is usually crafted by volunteers and funded through donations, while freeware is typically used and developed by businesses and has the role of a marketing tool. Overall, freeware users do not have the same freedom as free software users.

Read more: A quantum computer that can’t be simulated on classical hardware could be a reality next year

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