Is Freeware Really Free

Is Freeware Really Free

by Jim Hillier for Daves Computer Tips

When is Free Software – not really Free? What qualifies as Freeware and what does not.–PC Pitstop.

Last week I published an article regarding my freeware reviews, you can catch up with that article here: Freeware Reviews: The do’s and don’ts. The article elicited a couple of interesting comments regarding what actually constitutes freeware these days. One reader mentioned that “The definition of ‘FREEware’ is no longer what it used to be” and another suggested to “include a refresher of just exactly what Freeware means and how it distances itself from Freeware with ads and those who ask for contributions, etc“. So, what follows is my take on today’s freeware, what constitutes freeware, and what does not.

Wikipedia defines freeware thus: Freeware (portmanteau 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) closed source with one or more restricted usage rights.

My own definition is as follows: Software (generally closed source) which can be downloaded and used completely free of charge and without limitations.

There is little doubt that the original intent, or spirit, behind the freeware movement has been seriously corrupted over the years. These days, so-called freeware is often merely a vessel used to promote premium (or payed for) versions. Or comes loaded with parasitic extras such as advertizing modules and toolbars, a practice which has become all too common place. However, I do not believe that the actual definition of freeware has changed, just that the term is now often used far to loosely.

For example, the free versions in a ‘fremium’ distribution model do not, in my opinion, constitute freeware. These free versions almost inevitably include limitations, usually missing or disabled features, and are often released with the specific purpose of enticing users to cough up for the full-featured premium edition. These are “free” versions, not freeware.

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One thought on “Is Freeware Really Free

  1. The word is paid, payed is what you do with a rope for instance. In the same vein, it is advertising, we don’t keep the z, there.
    Thanks for the clarification on freeware.

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