Freeware is any software that is distributed for use at a price of zero. However, freeware may not be "free software". The Free Software Foundation defines free software as software that gives its users the freedom to share, study and modify it. It has no copyright or other restrictions for distributing, modifying and using the software in any way.

For example, a software developer may choose to make her software available for download and use on her website. This software may be freeware if downloaded for personal use but commercial use may require a fee. In either case, if it is prohibited to freely distribute (for any purpose) or modify the software, then this freeware is not free software.

Comparison chart

Free Software versus Freeware comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartFree SoftwareFreeware
  • current rating is 3.56/5
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(27 ratings)
  • current rating is 3.81/5
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(192 ratings)
About Free software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction. Freeware refers to software that anyone can download from the Internet and use for free.
Inception 1983 by Richard Stallmanto satisfy the need for and to give the benefit of "software freedom" to computer users. The term freeware was first used by Andrew Fluegelman in 1982, when he wanted to sell a communications program named PC-Talk.
License and Copyright GNU General Public License or sometime similar. A copyright is usually put just on the name of the software. User license or EULA (End User License Agreement) is an important part of freeware. Each license is specific to the freeware. Copyright laws are also applicable to Freeware.
Features All the features are free. All the features are free.
Distribution Programs can be distributed free of cost. Freeware programs can be distributed free of cost.
Example Mozilla Firefox, gedit, vim, pidgin, GNU Coreutils, Linux kernel Adobe PDF, Google Talk, yahoo messenger, MSN messenger

Free Software and Copyleft

Copyleft is a concept that allows free software advocates to use copyright law to further their objectives. The idea is to let users freely copy, modify, create derivative works from, and distribute software (or any creative work) with the condition that all derivative works must be released under the same license. The "share-alike" provision of Creative Commons licenses uses this principle.

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"Free Software vs Freeware." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 23 Sep 2016. < >