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What is Freeware Software?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2016
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Freeware software is software that is offered to the general public at no charge. The software is easy to obtain, and can be downloaded and shared at will. Because freeware is copyrighted, it is not possible for anyone other than the copyright holder to use the programming related to the software in the development of some new software product, a trait that distinguishes this form of software from any software programming that is considered in the public domain.

Many people assume that freeware software is the same as shareware software. However, that is not the case. Shareware is usually a limited version of a full software package that is made available for use during a trial period. Often, these limited versions have some sort of automatic expiration date built into the code. When that date arrives, the shareware ceases to function, although the product continues to offer the user an opportunity to purchase the full version.

There are many different types of freeware available today. Some of these products are purely for entertainment purposes, such as simple games, including interactive puzzles. Other forms of freeware are structured to function as word processing software, spreadsheet builders, accounting databases, and even presentation software. There are freeware products that make it possible to open and read documents in specific formats, as well as some freeware software that is ideal for creating different types of templates.

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In the past, freeware software tended to be configured for use on desktop and laptop computers. In recent years, PDA, or personal data assistant, freeware has been developed for use with a number of handheld devices. The freeware products work well with other forms of software, and can sometimes use fewer resources than similar products which can cost a great deal of money.

Because freeware software does not involve any cost, it is ideal for people who need the functions provided, but are unable to afford fee-based software options that tend to be quite expensive. There are some instances where freeware products offer a wider range of functions, such as allowing users to save documents in a wide range of file types. Students, as well as people on a fixed income, often find that freeware software provides everything they need, and requires little or no extra time to learn how to make the best use of the features.

Many freeware software products are available via downloading. Depending on the size of the file, it may take some time to download and install the product. However, even people who access the Internet using a dial-up connection will likely find that the time spent in the download effort is easily offset by acquiring a product at no cost that offers all the functions of software costing a significant amount of money.

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Discuss this Article

clintflint
Post 3

@Ana1234 - It's becoming more and more popular for freeware software games to make money by denying access to more advanced features until the user pays for them.

I ended up having to promise myself I wouldn't play any games like that, after a while, because I would always give in and pay the 99 cents or whatever the price was, to get to the next level and it adds up in the end.

I actually don't even think they should be called freeware, because you end up paying more for them than for an equivalent game. I know there are people out there who just like making software and have provided some excellent examples for free, but I am always quite cautious because most so-called freeware is going to be making money for someone somehow.

Ana1234
Post 2

@Fa5t3r - Sometimes the freeware itself has some kind of added extra that you might not want and that's how they can afford to provide a bit of software for free. Usually you can opt out of it in the setup so pay close attention and always go for the advanced options. If it asks you if you want to install a tool bar or something like that, it will usually allow you to say no.

Fa5t3r
Post 1

There is a lot of fantastic freeware out there, but just be careful while you are looking for it that you don't end up with a computer full of viruses and malware. The easiest way of getting people to download those things is to package them in with freeware software and they can slow your computer right down or even worse.

Try to make sure you only get your freeware from reputable sources. Many of the websites that distribute it will guarantee it to be malware free and will have reviews so you can double check that others haven't experienced problems.

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