The terms Shareware, Freeware and Open Source indicate some of the most popular types of software distribution licence. Freeware refers to a software which is distributed for free, without limits on its use or copying. Distribution to third parties on payment is, however, not permitted. These programs can be distributed with or without a source code, at the programmer’s discretion.
In most cases, Freeware software is a ‘light version’ of programs available for purchase. It can also feature advertising banners or can be provided free by the developer for their own marketing purposes.
Shareware Software: what is it?
A Shareware licence is the kind which was used to distribute almost all software stored on CDs or DVDs back in the nineties. These programs are distributed for free but are only free to use for a limited period of time (eg 30 or 60 days). Once that time has elapsed, if the user wishes to continue using the software they must purchase an un-blocking code. The limitations do not always involve time, but sometimes also functionalities (eg the number of invoices issued in the case of accounting software). In some cases, the user can also decide not to purchase the code. They must however be prepared to accept numerous functional limitations or the presence of watermarks on saved files.
Software with a Shareware licence is very popular due to the option of getting to know and trying out the product before making a definitive purchase.
We can distinguish between the different categories as follows:
- Adware Software, characterised by advertising banners which generate income for developers. In such situations, it is routine to find spyware designed to collect information on the online activities of users. This is the most commonly found formula among free mobile applications which frequently offer the removal of advertising banners on condition that a Premium version is purchased;
- Donationware Software, or programs for which payment is optional. Users can make a donation and choose the amount. This payment is not obligatory but provides an indication of their appreciation of the developer’s work;
- Nagware Software, which reminds the user when it is time to purchase the licence;
- Freemium Software, or programs which offer a free basic version and the opportunity to add extra functionalities on payment;
- Demoware, or demonstration versions of the various software.
These, in turn, can be:
- Crippleware Software, featuring functionalities which can be disabled until the user purchases a registration key;
- Trialware Software, or programs with all their functionalities available within a certain time limit.
Open Source Software; main features
In the case of Open Source, rather than a distribution licence, it would be more fitting to describe it as a movement licence. It is based on the concept of releasing the software together with its source code. This means that any developer is permitted to make modifications to the software and its functionalities.
Once that work is finished however, the code must be made available. The result is a level of technical improvement of the software which would be difficult to achieve via the efforts of a single software house. This process does not however imply that the program is free of charge.
Among the most important members of the Open Source movement is the Linux operating system, an excellent alternative to Windows and MacOS. Other examples of Open Source software include Open Office, PHP and the Mozilla browser.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith