Freeware ( of "free" and "software") is software that is available for use at no monetary cost or for an optional fee, but usually (although not necessarily) with one or more restricted usage rights. Freeware is in contrast to commercial software, which is typically sold for profit, but might be distributed for a business or commercial purpose in the aim to expand the marketshare of a "premium" product. According to the Free Software Foundation, "freeware" is a loosely defined category and it has no clear accepted definition, although FSF says it must be distinguished from free software (libre). Popular examples of closed-source freeware include Adobe reader, Free Studio and Skype.
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[clarification needed] because of their cost. 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 licensed at no cost and is either fully functional for an unlimited time; or has only basic functions enabled with a fully functional version available commercially or as shareware. In contrast to free software, the author usually restricts one or more rights of the user, including the rights to copy, distribute, modify and make derivative works of the software or extract the source code. The software license may impose additional restrictions on the type of use including personal use, private use, individual use, non-profit use, non-commercial use, academic use, educational use, use in charity or humanitarian organisations, non-military use, use by public authorities or various other combinations of these type of restrictions. For instance, the license may be "free for private, non-commercial use". The software license may also impose various other restrictions, such as restricted use over a network, restricted use on a server, restricted use in a combination with some types of other software or with some hardware devices, prohibited distribution over the Internet other than linking to author's website, restricted distribution without author's consent, restricted number of copies, etc.
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has formally defined the term "Free software" in 1986 and requested that people avoid referring to "Free Software" as "freeware". Members of the Free and open source software (FOSS) community believe that "freedom to use" implies that the end user is free to run, study, modify, and distribute the software with minimal restriction. Also the United States Department of Defense stated in an instruction for government employees and government contractors that the term "freeware" should not be used as a synonym for "open source software".
Freeware is also distinct from shareware; the latter obliges the user to pay after some trial period or to gain additional functionality. Sometimes, the class of shareware produced without a time limit, but with intentionally limited functionality is erroneously referred to as freeware. This "freeware", more accurately termed freemium is easily identified by an option to upgrade for a more enhanced version, e.g.: basic version upgrades to "Pro" version.
Many freeware products are developed by commercial developers alongside an expanded product with more features which is sold for profit. This type of freeware is released as a type of promotion for the other product, which is often based on the same code base with only a compiler flag required to produce the free version. The BBEdit, BBEdit Lite and TextWrangler text editors for the Macintosh are an example of this model of freeware.
Freeware cannot economically rely on commercial promotion. Thus the internet is the primary resource for information on which freeware is available, useful, and is not malware. However, there are also many computer magazines or newspapers that provide ratings for freeware and include compact discs or other storage media containing freeware.
The pure freeware model of software development has been criticized as "unsustainable" because it requires a single entity to be responsible for updating and enhancing the product, which is then given away for free. Most successful freeware products have been ad-supported or "freemium" in which the free product serves to promote a commercial offering. Other freeware projects are simply released as one off programs with no promise or expectation of further development. These may include source code, as does free software so that users can make any required or desired changes themselves, but this code remains subject to the license of the compiled executable and does not constitute free software.
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