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Understanding 5 Different Software Licenses


The software’s license gives user the right to use the software in the licensed environment. Some software comes with the license when purchased off the shelf, or an OEM license when bundled with hardware. Other software comes with a free software license, granting the recipient the rights to modify and redistribute the software. Here are five of them which are often given in giveaways or may be free.


Shareware:- Available free for a limited trial period, after which its registration or payment of license fee is required. Also called Liteware, Trialware or Demoware, Shareware may have certain features disabled or there may be constant reminders to register. Shareware is often offered as a download from an Internet website or as a compact disc included with a periodical such as a newspaper or magazine. The rationale behind shareware is to give buyers the opportunity to use the program and judge its usefulness before purchasing a license for the full version of the software; the name comes from the fact that shareware authors encourage users to distribute the trial software to their friends. The words “free trial” or “trial version” are indicative of shareware.


Nagware:- Something in the mold of a shareware program, this type of licensing presents the user with one or more pop-up windows or alerts when an application is launched or closed (sometimes both), reminding the user to register, purchase the application, or take some other action. These messages can appear as windows obscuring part of the screen, or as message boxes that can quickly be closed. Also known as Begware, Annoyware or a Nagscreen, Nagware is commonly used with shareware programs that have been downloaded for trial use. Some nagware keeps the message up for a certain time period, forcing the user to wait to continue to use the program. The intent is generally that the user will register or buy the program to get rid of the trial version’s annoyance.


Freeware:- The software is available for free and can be distributed freely in an unmodified state. In case the source code is provided, you need permission from the original developer to modify and redistribute it. Software classified as freeware is licensed at no cost and is either fully functional for an unlimited time; or has only basic functions enabled with a fully functional version available commercially or as shareware. Freeware cannot economically rely on commercial promotion. Thus the internet is the primary resource for information on which freeware is available, useful, and is not malware. However, there are also many computer magazines or newspapers that provide ratings for freeware and include compact discs or other storage media containing freeware.


Free Software:- Free software is a matter of freedom, not price. It can be used, copied and distributed in its original form or with modification for free or with a fee, provided the source code is enclosed with it. Free software legally guarantees the freedom-rights to use, to share, and to modify, in the license. Fees are usually charged for distribution on compact discs and bootable USB drives, or for services of installing or maintaining the operation of free software. In practice, for software to be distributed as free software, the source code, a human-readable form of the program from which an executable form is produced, must be accessible to the recipient along with a document granting the same rights to free software under which it was published.


Adware:- This type of license given to software comes with unwanted advertisements, commonly as banner or pop-up ad. Even though such software is available free, you would have to register with the developer to remove the ad. Adware or advertising-supported software renders advertisements in order to generate revenue for its author. The advertisements may be in the user interface of the software or on a screen presented to the user during the installation process. Some software is offered in both an advertising-supported mode and a paid, advertisement-free mode. The latter is usually available by an online purchase of a license or registration code for the software that unlocks the mode, or the purchase and download of a separate version of the software.

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