Is freeware free?

Sunday, February 1, 2009
YES but NO to some extent…

There are amazing things we think of when we mention the word “FREE”. Free is always associated with no cost which we sometimes see as very helpful thing when we want to acquire what we wanted. Oftentimes, it is associated with limitless, means that you can use a particular thing as long as you wanted and do whatever you want over that thing. Now, when we bring these two words altogether, no cost at a limitless time is really beneficial for us acquiring for things we want and we significantly, need.

No cost and limitless use is actually applied in software. There are lots of software available in the internet or even distributed through CDs, and they are categorized accordingly: adware, shareware, free software (not to be confused with freeware since it commonly referred to as Open Source Software), Demoware, Freeware and other –ware out there. These are just some of the few ware categorizations of software available to the users. Now, freeware is substantially, unique from all of them since from the word itself, it immediately tells us that it is a software for free. Well, freeware as defined in wiseGEEK, “is a software offered free of charge”. Mostly, freewares are downloadable from the internet wherein you can really attest that the software packages are free of charge when you do not have to pay for it or use trial versions which is commonly called as Shareware. Most freewares do offer unlimited span of use and some offer you to acquire for another version which is definitely free too.

Freeware similar to open source, you get to realize the freedom to acquire software for free. Free, a very simple yet, catchy word is what we always wanted. Indeed, personally, I really wanted that all software I want and I need must be free of cost, but then, I sometimes do think that if I would be the programmer, that would not be fair in my part, maybe for me, it depends on the level of difficulty and purpose of your software on whether it should be with cost or without. Gladly, there are some brilliant programmers and developers who distribute their works for absolutely free which is really very kind for their part. Now, what is the difference between freeware and open source? Users can alter the source code of open source and definitely, they can be part for the developments of the software. While in freeware, only the software itself, not its source code is available to the users. This what makes the open source great since you can make sure of yourself that there would be new developments for the software every now and then since there are contributors for its developments.

On the other hand, freeware and shareware are quite similar since they both offer free of charge though the big difference of them is that shareware offers not the full version of the software with limited functionalities at a limited use of time which will eventually lead the users to buy for a licensed one, the full version. Freeware somehow is the opposite of it aside from they offer free cost.

Now, though freeware is absolutely free, it somehow has a user agreement or EULA (End User License Agreement) to add some restrictions to the program itself and to ensure that the software can not be altered, repackage, or sold. By the way, most freeware does have technical support in the internet or sometimes in the help menu of the said software. This could significantly add to the satisfaction of the users in using the software for free. Now, this freeware becomes “not free” if their technical support, manuals are paid first before they are acquired.

This is what my classmate Agnes has said in the last part of her answer to the question “Is freeware free?” Some business organizations have used several strategies to promote their business by distributing free software which later becomes sort of shareware when the user has to pay first before they can acquire what they need. But to clarify, these are not shareware. Freeware are not shareware and vice versa. It just that the company takes strategic actions that at the end, they can benefit from the freeware they had distributed. For example, if the freeware has further advancements or special features available but it must be connected or linked to another software which has a cost, that is when business comes in between the users and the distributors of freeware who use such business tricks.

Another situation we can relate to it is that when you have won a house for free but later you need to make some maintenance of the said house, this would likely be possible in freeware, some technical problems or errors the software might be encountered later can not always be solved by the technical support it offers. That is when you need to spend something to fix it… Absolutely, it is not free when you had to spend a single cent for it. I am referring to the maintenance of the software after you had acquired it. Some troubleshooting on the errors it might encounter could also ask you to spend a little for it, that is just one of the possibilities. I am just trying to say that maybe the word free associated to freeware is best understood on that moment when you acquire it at no cost. This will eventually change when freeware is paid little by little as time goes by since as we know, we can use it with limitless time, which means we would be maintaining the software for a longer span of time having all the possibilities of spending for it (though maybe, just little that it would almost be “free”…).

Indeed, in the real world we live in, there is nothing free. Everything has a cost in its particular kind of fee. We live freely but we had to spend some time and effort to live our lives the way it should be. And so this applies to the software, though freewares are free in terms of you do not have to pay in acquiring for it but later, you would realize that you had spent a cent for it.

References:
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-freeware.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeware
http://searchenterpriselinux.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid39_gci212159,00.html
http://www.freeemailtutorials.com/website/whatIsFreeware.cwd
http://www.computerscrapbooking.com/pages/fonts/shareware.htm

2 comments:

  • rejserenity

    heheh.. jus its teh freeness has its limitation.. just as the restriction in modification, etc.

  • hannah hernandez

    my answer is just like what you wrote in your first sentence..

    yes its free but it does have some reservations..

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