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Freeware is software that is released by the developer completely free, but the developer continues to hold the copyright, and the source is not released. "Freeware" is not a legal term or distribution license, though there are many licenses which can be described as freeware like the Creative Commons License and the Gnu Public License.

Although I love free software, I recognize that it's usually inferior compared to commercial software, and I often find that it's frequently in a state of disrepair because the developers got bored and only half-finished features or never bothered to shore up bugs. However, for a great deal of the tasks I need a computer to do, I have found a decent free programs.


Since the term "freeware" is not a legal term, it has no agreed upon definition. Many people use the term to all sorts of software that is still monetized. Below, I explain some of the different types of so-called freeware.

Category Description
Adware The program is free and has all its features, but you will have watch advertisements at regular intervals which gives a small amount of money to the developers. Most "free" software on phones and tablets is like this. Since money is changing hands, it's not really fair to call this model "free," but the end user isn't shelling out cash, just time.
Crippleware The program has features which you can only access if you pay for them. This can be minor, like eliminating some of the more exotic features, but often times it locks you out of key features like the ability to save your project or the ability to use the program more that five minutes each day. Old versions of this model would give you all features for a flat rate, but modern versions of this model require you to buy each of the features individually.
Freeware True freeware is software that has all its features intact, never asks you to buy or even donate, and doesn't include any advertisements. This is pretty rare.
Nagware The program has all its features, but you will be nagged to give the developers money. Some nagware is pretty unobtrusive, like merely adding a donate button to the user interface, but some is very obnoxious, popping up messages with long delays asking the user to pay to eliminate them. This is very similar to adware, only, the ad is for the program itself.
Shareware The term "shareware" isn't used very much anymore. It usually refers to software that is a combination of crippleware and nagware. Many PC-based games in early-1990s would give you a couple levels for free, but then nag you to pay for the rest.