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Freeware (from "free" and "software") is computer software that is available for use at no cost or for an optional fee.[1] Software that is not freeware is occasionally referred to as payware.



The term freeware was coined by Andrew Fluegelman when he wanted to sell a communications program named PC-Talk that he had created but for which he did not wish to use traditional methods of distribution because of their cost.[2] Fluegelman actually distributed PC-Talk via a process now referred to as shareware. Current use of the term freeware does not necessarily match the original concept by Andrew Fluegelman.


Software classified as freeware is normally fully functional for an unlimited time with no cost, monetary or otherwise. Freeware can be proprietary software available at zero price.[3] The author usually restricts one or more rights to copy, distribute, and make derivative works of the software.[4] The software license may impose restrictions on the type of use including personal use, individual use, non-profit use, non-commercial use, academic use, commercial use or any combination of these. For instance, the license may be "free for personal, non-commercial use".

Accordingly, freeware may or may not be free and open source software and, in order to distinguish, the Free Software Foundation asks users to avoid calling "freeware" free software.[5] The principal difference being that free software can be used, studied, and modified without restriction; free software embodies the concept of freedom to use, while freeware that of free-of-charge. Freeware is also different from shareware; the latter obliges the user to pay after some trial period or to gain additional functionality.[6]

See also


  1. "freeware]" (2010). Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Accessed January 13, 2010.
  3. Dixon, Rod (2004). Open Source Software Law. Artech House. p. 4. ISBN 9781580537193.,M1. Retrieved 2009-03-16. "On the other hand, freeware does not require any payment from the licensee or end-user, but it is not precisely free software, despite the fact that to an end-user the software is acquired in what appears to be an identical manner." 
  4. Graham, Lawrence D (1999). Legal battles that shaped the computer industry. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 175. ISBN 9781567201789. Retrieved 2009-03-16. "Freeware, however, is generally only free in terms of price; the author typically retains all other rights, including the rights to copy, distribute, and make derivative works from the software." 
  6. The Linux Information Project (2006-10-22). "Freeware Definition". Retrieved 2009-06-12. 

External links

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