Freeware is software that is free to use. Unlike commercial software, it does not require any payment or licensing fee. It is similar to shareware, but will not eventually ask you for payment to continue using the software. You can legally download and use freeware for as long as you want without having to pay for it.
Many types of software programs are offered as freeware, including games, utilities, and productivity applications. Since the software is free, you might wonder what incentive developers have to create freeware programs. Below are a few reasons a program might be offered as freeware:
- To offer a program developed by a non-profit or educational institution to the public
- To promote a brand or drive traffic to a company's website
- To generate revenue through advertisements or in-app purchases within the program
- To generate revenue by offering other programs during the installation process
- To provide a "lite" version of a program that may lead users to upgrade to the full-featured version
While freeware is free to use, it is still copyrighted and may include a license agreement that restricts usage or distribution of the software. It is also not the same thing as open source software (or "free software"), which allows you to edit and redistribute the program's source code.
Updated: January 23, 2015