If we do not know the subject, software is that intangible that makes the computer and its tools work. But nevertheless, there are different classifications of this. Among them we can name depending on their role, developer, application support or type of use license.
In this last typology is where we will stop and develop this post. A license is a kind of contract between the user and the developer of said program. It defines and specifies copyright and intellectual property.
Within this classification there are different types, which we use on a daily basis without paying much attention to your license. To learn more about this topic, we invite you to read until the end of the text.
What is freeware and what is this software use license for?
Given its name in English, it is common to be confused with free software, Due to the ambiguity of the term “free”. The main characteristic of this software is that its distribution is free and at the same time has a copyright with restrictions on its modification, sale and characteristics. Unlike free software, in which users can modify their code.
Within the freeware we can find those that offer full versions of it and others, in which functions are restricted to the most basic of more advanced products. In both cases it is possible to redistribute them, as long as the author of said software is mentioned. In particular cases, the use is only allowed for individuals. With prohibitions if it is a company or government area.
It is also important to clarify the differences with shareware. Since both offer a program of free use and distribution. However, freeware stays that way indefinitely. Instead, the other expires after a trial period. And to continue using it, you must purchase the paid license software. Although it is possible that, in some cases, the developer will request voluntary donations that allow them to continue supporting the program.
What are the main features of freeware?
We have mentioned the differences between some types of software. It is time to explain what are the elements that define them:
- Freedom of use. These programs they cannot restrict the time of use nor do they have trial time. Once obtained you can use it indefinitely. In most cases, it is available for all operating systems.
- Freedom of distribution. Use them on all the compatible devices you want. Send it to a friend. Or give copies on the street. The only condition is that you mention the developer.
- Anti-piracy. It would be ridiculous to buy a stolen item if it is being given away elsewhere. With this logic, freewares prevent piracy and are offered for free from their official pages. This also helps to keep your computer free of viruses and malicious programs that leak with cracks.
- Source code not available. So far everything seemed very free. But nevertheless, these programs are copyrighted and the source code is only available to the developer. This means that users cannot modify the characteristics of the product, not even to improve it.
- Forever. Once downloaded, the free software will remain this way in perpetuity. No payment can be required to continue using it. Similarly, these programs are kept on the Internet, although not always on their official website.
Freeware vs Free Software vs Open Source How is each different?
At the beginning of the text we named briefly that freeware and Free Software were different things. We will delve into this by adding to open source or open source software:
- Freeware. It is considered a free variant of shareware, since the source code such as the copyright license cannot be modified. The attributions remain with the developer. But nevertheless, free distribution is an attribution shared by these three types of programs.
- Free software. The differences with freeware have already been mentioned. With respect to those you have with open source software lie in a philosophical question. While that of Free Software refers to a question of ethics, which maintains that users must have freedoms over the program. The open source ones refer more to practical terms, as we will see later.
To be considered free, a program must possess these freedoms:
- To run the program without restrictions whatever the purpose of the user.
- Of studying its operation and change it or customize it. For this it is essential to have access to the source code.
- From redistribute copies, even if they have been modified. Without any barrier to prevent it. The purpose of this redistribution should be to help other people (this is not controlled by anyone).
- At the same time must not have restrictions for its use and / or commercial distribution or for profit, unlike some Freewares. This means that you can market a free program that you have modified. Although it will no longer be part of this category.
- The manuals of the software too must be included or available on another site for free.
- Open source. Regarding this type of program, we can say that its purpose it is not ethical, but practical development. This current holds that allowing other users modify the code source has like result improvement in program quality.
For open source software to be named in such a way, it must have the following possibilities:
- Free and free distribution. Like the previous categories.
- Access to source code available. Share this characteristic with free software.
- Redistribution of modifications. This should be allowed, although it is sometimes only allowed in the form of patches or updates.
- Commercial use. Use for profit must not be prohibited.
- It should not be exclusive to a product. The program license cannot be part of a larger distribution only.
List of the most useful and popular freeware that you should have on your computer
Finally, we will show you just some of the most used free programs of the moment. It is likely even, that you already have some of them and you have not noticed their status as freeware:
It is the most downloaded antivirus in the world. It is available for different operating systems and platforms. While it offers a paid alternative, the free program meets all the requirements to be considered freeware.
Developed by Apple, is a very versatile multimedia content player and used by all video editors. By many it is considered a type of freemium software, although it is included within the free programs.
Thought from the beginning as a platform to facilitate communication between gamers. It can be used for free and from the browser. It uses a minimum of resources, which does not interfere with the games.
One of the most used browsers today. It is available for free and by default on Android mobile devices. Unlike Mozilla, does not have an open source.
Adobe Flash Player
Created by the Macromedia company, the software was later acquired by Adobe. Nowadays it can be purchased for free as a complement to the main web browsers.
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