The difference between shareware, free trials and freeware
The terms "shareware", "freeware" and "free trial", "free download" can often be confusing to people that only infrequently download software from the Internet. To help clear up any confusion, we have provided a layman's definition of the terms and differences
The Wikipedia definition of "freeware" is: Freeware is computer software that is available for use at no cost or for an optional fee....
This highlights one of the main differences between freeware and shareware, namely that freeware does not require any payment from you in order to use the software. Some freeware products may ask for voluntary donations or offer enhanced versions that are available for a fee, but the actual freeware product itself should be free to use without any obligations. (License restrictions may apply for commercial use).
Even though freeware does not cost you anything to use, it is often subject to license terms and conditions to protect intellectual property rights.Shareware (a.k.a. Free Trial) on the other hand, is not indented as a "freebie" but a concept that allows you to try the software for a period of time, allowing you to decide whether to buy it (or not). There is no obligation to buy the software at any time, if you do not like the software, simply uninstall it from your computer.
Shareware products often limit the trial to a number of days (e.g. 30 days, 15 days) or by limiting the available features, or sometimes both. These limitations are completely at the discretion of the software company and vary from product to product. These limitations are usually designed to let you try the software without eliminating the need for you to purchase it.Some of the most common trial limitations include:
- Saving of files disabled
- Watermarks added to create files
- Nag screens (a reminder that you are using a trial version)
- Limited time trial
- Other limitations
"Lite" versions (a.k.a. Personal Editions, Home Editions, Free Versions etc.) are products that offer a limited set of features that can usually be upgraded by purchasing a "Pro" or "Full" version. The idea behind this concept is to provide a free product, while at the same time promoting a commercial version that is aimed at more advanced or commercial users. Since users are more willing to try "free" software, this concept allows the software company to reach a wider audience and therefore potential buyers for the "Pro" version.
We take "Lite" version with a grain of salt and pay close attention to what features have been limited and whether there is actually a sufficient value in the free version. If the "Lite" appears to have no real value or constant nag screens to upgrade, we will not list it in the Freeware section of SnapFiles but rather as a "Free Trial" in our "Shareware" section.
Open Source software is a concept that makes the source code openly available and allows programmers to change, modify and use it. Open Source software is always free to use without limitations to the enduser (see license agreement for details). Open Source products are listed in our Freeware section. For more details on the Open Source concept, visit Wikipedia.