What is Shareware?
You may have heard the term shareware before but don’t really understand what it is and the benefits you can gain from using them. Read on to learn what shareware is.
What is shareware? This is defined as software that is readily available for free for download over the Internet or a installation from a CD-ROM on a trial basis. As is the nature of free software download, shareware is often limited either in functionality (it may only be able to perform limited functions), availability (it may be fully functional yet available for only a limited time, e.g. 10-day free trials), or a combination of both, until you decide you pay for the full version. Sometimes software developers include dialogs that appear at startup or while the user is running the program which reminds him or her to purchase the full version. Shareware is also known as trialware or demoware, and the purpose is to give users the opportunity to try out the product on their own computers before they even buy it. This way, the consumer will be able to judge the software’s usefulness, or in the case of games, how enjoyable it is.
How Shareware Works
After you download or install the shareware from an online source or a CD-ROM, you will be able to use it, either as a partially functional version with no time limit or as fully-functional software for a limited time. If you find that it is useful and satisfies your needs or wants, and want to be able to use the full version with no restrictions, you will need to pay for the license. Several shareware programs are built with mechanisms that protect the developer’s copyright once the user reaches the expiration for the trial period.
When this happens, an error message or popup screen will appear to inform the user that the trial period has ended. It may also ask the user to provide a registration key which they will get after they pay for the software.
Shareware vs. Other Free Software
Freeware is another form of free software and refers to copyrighted software. In this case, the developers do not require payment for its use; however, the user is restricted in what they can do with it and does not have the ability to append it to other software or put it up for sale.
On the other hand, public domain software refers to those not protected by copyright. It is genuinely offered for free and, in addition, the user can do anything they want with it.
Open source software refers to software created by developers who makes the source code available for all users and allows them to examine and modify it. While this may sound counterintuitive, this usually results in better software.