What are Free Software?
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Free proprietary software or freeware refers to software that is available to users at no cost. Andrew Fluegelman introduced the idea of freeware in 1982 and the term “freeware” is usually used to describe free proprietary software. It means software users can use the software without making any payments.

However, the authors of freeware usually restrict users from modifying and redistributing the software without permission. Although free proprietary software is available free of charge, the owner may want to benefit from the product in different ways.

For example, some freeware owners encourage users to buy a better version of the software, which is usually termed as the premium version. The latter includes additional features that are not available in the free or trial version of the software. Nevertheless, some free proprietary programs are fully functional and users can use them for an unlimited time. Most operating systems allow users to download and install freeware.

Some common examples of FPS include Skype, OneDrive, and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Anyone can download these programs for free, but users who want to use premium features have to pay for them. Unlike free software or open source software (OSS), free proprietary software may be copyrighted. For example, owners of freeware usually restrict users from accessing the source code. This means anyone who attempts to edit, reverse-engineer, or redistribute the program could end up in jail or pay a fine.

Also, the software licence for Free proprietary software may include various restrictions on usage. For example, the license may state that the program is for personal, private, individual, non-profit, educational, charity, non-commercial, non-military or public use only. Some free proprietary programs are also licenced to only work on a server or over a network. Free proprietary software owners may also restrict the number of installations or copies that users can make and the type of hardware or software needed to run the program.

Individuals, organizations, and other software users need free proprietary software for a number of reasons. The availability of Free proprietary software is essential for users who need the software for different purposes including personal, academic, commercial, non-profit and public use. This is even more important in a digitized world where individuals and organizations need proprietary software to create, edit, and share images, audio files, text messages, and videos.

Free proprietary software has become an integral part of everyday life because millions of people use it across the globe. Moreover, Free proprietary software is an ethical imperative because it protects users from some expensive proprietary programs that are only available after a payment.

Software users want programs that allow them to accomplish certain tasks without paying for very basic functions and that is why free proprietary software is a perfect choice. Moreover, users want the freedom to choose whether to buy or not buy a program. This is an essential feature because price has always been a major concern in the software industry. Software users have very different needs that are difficult to meet with costly proprietary programs, but software owners make it possible to meet some basic software needs with Free proprietary software.

What are the Advantages of Free Software?

Software users include individuals who use software for personal use (non-programmers), programmers who develop and sell software programs, as well as companies that use software for different reasons.

These users benefit from free proprietary software in various ways depending on what they want to achieve with the program. Non-programmers want a program that can meet their specific needs. These users include people from different sectors including learning institutions, video production, music production, the entertainment sector, military, and the business world. Students, artists, military personnel, teachers, software developers, and business people want a program that is available at the click of a button.

In addition, every software user looks at the costs of buying, installing, and maintaining a program. Most of the software needs of individual users are similar to the needs of companies. Start-ups want a program that is available, easy to use, and able to meet the specific needs of their business.

The advantages of free proprietary software include:

  • Availability – Many people and companies use Free Proprietary Software because there are many types of proprietary programs in the market. It is easy to access and download free proprietary applications via an internet browser.
  • Flexibility – Many free proprietary applications can run on different types of devices such as tablets, mobile phones and personal computers. For example, applications such as Skype and OneDrive are available on Windows and Android operating systems.
  • Low initial costs – Sometimes it is difficult to buy proprietary software because some programs are too expensive to afford. For this reason, many software users take advantage of free proprietary software because they can use it for some time as they try to look for money to pay for the whole package.
  • Free trial for premium features – In the business world, most consumers like the idea of trying a product before they make a decision to spend money on it. Similarly, many software users are more than delighted to try the features of a program before they decide to buy it. For example, if the owner offers a 30-day trial version with all the premium features of a certain software, interested users have a whole month to try every available feature. By the end of this period, people who have tried the product can easily decide whether to buy the product or look for a different option depending on their experience. Some people may decide to continue with the free version of the program if they don’t need the premium features. This is possible because they already know the positive and negative aspects of the product.
  • Easy to install – Free proprietary software usually comes with a user guide with clear installation instructions. After downloading the application, the installation process is as easy as opening the application and the automated installation wizard does the rest of the work. Some applications save disk space because they only install the available features for a demo or trial version.
  • Free support – Free proprietary software may also include free support from the owner. In most case, users of free proprietary applications can visit the owner’s website for help if they experience difficulties.

What are the disadvantages of Free Software?

There is no doubt that free proprietary software promises many good things and different software users can benefit in different ways. However, anyone who chooses Free Proprietary Software over any other type of software should consider the negative aspects of the software. In addition to what the software can do, every software user wants to know what the program cannot do and the accompanying restrictions.

This is important because they have to make a choice. In fact, people who develop, use, change or sell software have to make a political choice because there are many options in the market. Sometimes the choice may not be the right choice so users need to make a critical evaluation of the available options and compare their choice with other options. Some of the major challenges associated with free proprietary software include copyright issues, security issues, limited use, the cost of premium features, and ethical issues.

The disadvantages of free proprietary software include:

  • Security issues – The security of the program depends on the owner so it is difficult to know whether the program is secure and users may download spyware.
  • Limited use – One of the limitations of free proprietary software is the fact that some features are not available unless the user makes the necessary payment. This happens because some products are only available in limited versions so users cannot access certain features. For example, some free proprietary music production programs allow people to compose music, but users cannot save the project. In this case, the user is forced to look for another option or pay in order to proceed.
  • Cost of premium features – Anyone who has never heard of free proprietary software may assume the product is 100% free, but this may not be true depending on the type of software and what the owner wants. Although some free proprietary programs are fully functional for an unlimited time, some of them have a limited trial period. In the latter case, users have to pay for the premium features, especially if there is no other option in the market. Moreover, some people only want the premium features of the product from the start so they have to pay for them. Other people only want the free features of the product but have to pay for the entire package if the trial period expires.
  • Ethical and political issues – Software users make political and ethical decisions when choosing software, but it is difficult to make an ethical decision considering the numerous options. If a user decides to try a free proprietary program, they know that the program may not allow them to perform certain tasks. They are also aware of the availability of non-free proprietary software so the decision to download and use free proprietary software may not be easy regardless of how ethical it seems.

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Author Since: February 14, 2020

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