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Freeware is computer software which is made available from the vendor where everyone is free to copy it, modify and distribute it ("reproductive," "adaptive," and "distribution" rights), without have to pay a fee (free of charge); but to use it, one may have to pay some quantity in different ways.

For Gratisware you don't have to pay any quantity to use it.

The term was coined by Andrew Fluegelman[?] when he wished to distribute a program he had created but did not wish to use traditional methods of distribution due to distribution costs. Previously, he owned the trademark to the term freeware but this trademark has since been abandoned.

Warning : Some freeware software is not free for commercial use.

It is distinct from the following categories of software:

  • Donationware[?], which is a subset of freeware. Unlike traditional freeware, donationware software asks for payment. However, payment is completely optional and does not result in access to new features.
  • Free software, which grants freedoms to its users, but is not defined by cost (cannot be free of charge). Freeware is usually only available in executable form (i.e. without source code), whereas open source software has its source code freely available by definition. However, one of the freedoms granted to users of free software is the freedom to distribute the software. As such, free software can be distributed as freeware.
  • Shareware, which is distributed and can be initially installed free of charge, but which generally requires payment after a trial period which may or may not be enforced by the software itself. Some shareware (sometimes called "crippleware") may have features disabled immediately, or at the end of the trial period. Freeware is feature-complete[?]. It may depend on other products or services that are not zero-cost but these products or services must be separate from the freeware.
  • Public domain software, where no copyright exists in the software (due to explicit release by the author) and copyright restrictions do not apply. Public domain software can, in theory, be the result of a copyright term expiring.
  • Abandonware software, where a copyright exists but the software has not been sold by the copyright holder for an extended period of time and/or the copyright holder is a defunct company. Note that distributing abandonware is technically a violation of the author's copyright, though there may be no author around to enforce it. "Legal abandonware" is a misnomer for commercial software that has been re-released by the copyright holders as freeware. "Legal abandonware" is a type of freeware.
  • Resignware: it's a free code and free of charge software. None can register the software, but can make modifications using a GNU license system.

Purists do not consider the below types of software to be freeware (in the sense of free of charge software) because they "cost" time. However, many people do consider them to be freeware.

  • Cardware (AKA Postcardware): where the user sends the author a postcard depicting their locality.
  • Careware: where the author asks to do good i.e. by sending a donation to a charity, being nice to others, or doing volunteer work.
  • Thank-youware: where the author merely asks the user to send them an email saying "thanks" for the software. Some similar software licenses require this email to provide feedback on the software.
  • Beerware: where the author asks the user to send them beer and/or to drink a beer in the author's name.
  • Registerware: where the author requires the user to register the software (especially if registration is required to activate new features) but such registration is free.

Many people do not consider the below types of software to be freeware (in the sense of free of charge software), because they "cost" privacy. However, some people do consider them to be freeware.

  • Adware software, where software is released as freeware but shows advertisements within the software and/or requires users to change their homepage. Most adware is Spyware.

Vendors often release freeware programs to attract users to other services or products available, at a fee, from the vendor; such a strategy is often referred to as the loss leader[?] model. Others release freeware because other methods of distribution are unlikely to make a profit or because the software is outdated and is no longer worth selling.

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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