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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] Freeware is generally proprietary software available at zero price, and is not free software.[2] The author usually restricts one or more rights to copy, distribute, and make derivative works of the software.[3]



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.[4] 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 must be fully functional for an unlimited time with no cost, monetary or otherwise.[citation needed] 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 software or open source software. The principal difference being that free software can be used, studied, and modified without restriction; free software embodies the concept of 'libre' while freeware that of 'gratis'. Freeware is also different from shareware; the latter obliges the user to pay after some trial period or to gain additional functionality.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster definition of freeware
  2. ^ Dixon, Rod (2004). Open Source Software Law. Artech House. p. 4. ISBN 9781580537193.,M1. Retrieved on 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." 
  3. ^ Graham, Lawrence D. (1999). Legal battles that shaped the computer industry. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 175. ISBN 9781567201789. Retrieved on 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." 
  4. ^
  5. ^ The Linux Information Project (2006-10-22). "Freeware Definition". Retrieved on 2009-06-12. 

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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From free + ware a contraction of software; Coined by Andrew Fluegelman




freeware (uncountable)

  1. (computing) Complete and functional software that does not require payment or other compensation (such as nags or advertising) for its use. Freeware may be a proprietary license with no access to the source code.

Related terms


See also

Simple English

Freeware is software that people may get without paying for it. It is not to be mixed up with free software. Freeware may be free in price, but the users might not be allowed to share the software or source code with others.

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