is computer software
that is available for use at no cost or for an optional fee. Freeware is often made available in a binary-only, proprietary
form, thus making it distinct from free software
. Proprietary freeware allows authors to contribute something for the benefit of the community, while at the same time allowing them to retain control of the source code, future direction of development and preserve its business potential. Freeware is different from shareware
, where the user is obliged to pay (e.g. after some trial period or for additional functionality).
The term freeware
was coined by Andrew Fluegelman
when he wanted to sell a communications program named PC-Talk
that he had created but for which he did not wish to use traditional methods of distribution because of their cost. Fluegelman actually distributed PC-Talk via a process now referred to as shareware
. Current use of the term freeware does not necessarily match the original concept by Andrew Fluegelman.
The only criterion for being classified as freeware is that the software must be fully functional for an unlimited time with no cost, monetary or otherwise. The software license may impose restrictions on the type of use including personal use, individual use, non-profit use, non-commercial use, academic use, commercial use or any combination of these. For instance, the license may be "free for personal, non-commercial use." Everything created with the freeware programs can be distributed at no cost (for example graphic, documents, or sounds made by user).