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Definition

shareware

Shareware is software that is distributed free on a trial basis with the understanding that the user may need or want to pay for it later. Some software developers offer a shareware version of their program with a built-in expiration date (after 30 days, the user can no longer get access to the program). Other shareware (sometimes called liteware) is offered with certain capabilities disabled as an enticement to buy the complete version of the program.

Shareware is sometimes confused with freeware. Like open source, freeware is truly free -- but like shareware, freeware program code is proprietary and the creator retains the copyright.

See also: crippleware

This was last updated in May 2009

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