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What is Freeware?

Freeware imageFreeware is computer software that is fully functional, available free of charge for an indefinite period of time and is either downloadable from the internet or runs on the internet. Sometimes there are restrictions put on the software such as not for distribution or commercial use. If the software has ads then it is not considered freeware but rather adware. Freeware is different from open software and free software in that open and free software allow the user to modify, study or use the software without restrictions.

Freeware simply implies software that is without cost but does not allow the user to make changes to it. Although freeware is free for the user, it is still copyright protected. No one can market freeware as their own unless they are the owner.

Outline of Freeware Products

History of Freeware

Andrew Fluegelman was the first person to use the term freeware. Andrew wanted to distribute a program called PC-Talk free of charge. First he distributed it through a process now called shareware. Freeware, as it is known it today, is not consistent with what Andrew Fluegelman originally had in mind. When introducing IBM-PC to the world, Fluegelman decided to sell it using the method that we know today as "Freeware" which he characterized as "an experiment in economics more than altruism " At first, freeware encouraged users to make voluntary payments for the software being distributed, but he also allowed users to copy and redistribute the software freely as long as the license terms and text were not altered.

Current use of the term freeware is not the same as Fluegelman's. Developers of free software make a clear distinction between their software and freeware: free software embodies the concept of freedom to use, while freeware is related to free-of-charge.

Next up: Freeware and Education