What are the Different Types of Freeware Programs?

Phil Shepley

Freeware programs are certainly plentiful, and there are many different types of software downloads that are available at no cost across different platforms. There are a variety of different versions of downloadable software that are available permanently for a cost. An example of this is shareware, which must be paid for after a certain trial period has expired, and there are other instances where freeware programs must eventually be paid for, such as programs that are free for personal use but cost money if used for a business.

Freeware, which can include video games and other computer software, is offered without cost and can be used for an unlimited amount of time.
Freeware, which can include video games and other computer software, is offered without cost and can be used for an unlimited amount of time.

For no-cost freeware specifically, there are practically limitless amounts of programs that are available to download and use at no charge whatsoever. The main differences between types of freeware programs are the purpose for which they are used coupled with the platform, or device, that they are available on. Practically any type of computer application has freeware downloads in addition to their pay-to-use counterparts. Many websites are dedicated to offering specific types of freeware, others offer as many free programs as they can, and still more online sites are dedicated to promoting one freeware program in particular.

Freeware games and entertainment are designed solely for leisure, and can be downloaded for personal computers, cell phones and more. Many computer programmers use freeware to make people aware of their program in hopes that their game will “take off” and give them either recognition, the ability to be paid for their software, or the opportunity of getting more paid projects. Others create simple or complex freeware games as a hobby in their spare time, and offer them for downloading as part of their own entertainment. Other popular types of entertainment freeware programs are multimedia — audio and video players that contain a vast array of features for playing and modifying music and video files.

Many types of freeware programs are system utilities for different computer platforms and portable electronic devices. They offer tools for modifying files, checking diagnostics, maintaining networks, and enhancing computer security. Many freeware programs do the same services that pay-to-use programs do. For example, there are free anti-virus programs that offer security that is comparable to their often expensive counterparts. Similarly, freeware programs can utilize calendars and address books that can be used to organize personal data, and integrate it into whatever electronic devices they are running on.

Freeware that is designed for office and business use is more complicated, and can be harder to come by since programmers may feel the need to charge for software that is being used to make money. Still, if there is a pay-program for word processing, spreadsheets, accounting, or another business application, there is most always a free program that does similar functions. More common types of freeware programs along these lines are graphics programs, as well as applications for computer programming. One needs to look no further than his or her favorite search engine to begin looking for the different types of freeware programs that are accessible online.

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Discussion Comments


As I understand it -- and I could be wrong -- open source is quite different from freeware because of one thing. Namely, most freeware programs are not meant to be messed with, whereas entire communities grow up around open source applications and folks mess with the source code of those things all day long.

In fact, individuals are encouraged to open the source code and modify as much as they want (of course, you have to have substantial skills to modify source code and not break your program). Freeware source code, on the other hand, is typically hard to get at and is often protected by copyright.


Isn't freeware essentially the same thing as open source? I would think so as there is no charge to use open source programs and there are some very good ones out there.

You can find a fantastic open source operating system in Linux, for example, and plenty of great programs written to work under that operating system (finding office suites, graphics programs, audio editors, etc. is no problem).

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