What is Shareware?

Shareware is a term used for a program that can be downloaded and shared for free with anyone. Shareware is official legal use of a program, although some people may use the term for pirated software.

There are several varieties of shareware (aka, freeware, trialware, or demoware).

  • One definition of shareware is a program containing a full version of what it is but available to use only for a short time. This style of shareware is what is more specifically known as trialware or demoware.
  • Another definition offers versions of the program indefinitely, but only with limited features, encouraging the user to pay for the full version. These versions are also known as trialware or demoware, with a more colloquial name of crippleware due to the restricted features.
  • The last definition, and the original use of shareware, was when a program was written and shared with everyone with no restriction. This term was used more often in the beginning days of software development, when programmers would write programs to help them in their work and share those programs with other programmers in a system of free exchange.