Many people do not realize the differences between kinds of downloadable software. Software, share ware, free ware–they all have a download link and they are all readily available online, so why should you care if they aren’t the same? The differences lie solely in how you are allowed to use the program, which as the user, should be very important to you. Below are breakdowns of what each kind of software is and how you can and cannot use it.
The standard software that most people are used to using. Purchased software programs you may be familiar with include Adobe Photoshop, CorelDRAW and the Microsoft Windows operating system. This software is professionally made and can generally be relied upon to be high-quality. Nearly all purchased software comes with some kind of technical support should it glitch or need updates. The catch is that none of this software is free; even downloadable copies must be purchased (if you find a copy for free download, it isn’t a legal copy) and many come with a unique key code to enter in order to prevent illegal distribution.
Often just as good as the average purchased software, share ware is free to use for a trial period (a week to a month, usually), after which it generally stops working unless you purchase a full copy. Some shareware programs allow limited use of the full program’s features, while others allow full use but limit the number of times you can save files created with the program. Some well-known share ware programs are Noteworthy Composer and the WinRAR compression software. May or may not have tech support.
Full programs free to use by anyone, even professionally. Generally as-is with no tech support. Quality can vary greatly, but free ware is great when you find a quality free program such as The GIMP or Inkscape.