See also: Software | Ware | Non-Free

This topic is sometimes Flamebait by implying non-free software to be inferior to Open Source and Free Software.

A shareware program is an application meant to generate revenue to pay for development, generate profit, or to donate to an author’s desired cause. Shareware may be thought of as a blanket term applied to software which is “free to download.” The first Doom from id Software is a highly successful example of shareware.

Shareware is often a blanket term to include any program that isn’t freeware, or requires or suggests no activity on the part of the user. Some methods generate revenue for the programmer through methods other than voluntary payment. Benefits of this software can include the “full” version with no features turned off while detractors are that it can be annoying or even harmful to a user.


  • Adware – The user has advertisements displayed during the program’s use. Example: the free version of Opera
  • Spyware – The user may be tracked, and/or that information could be sold. Example: The Gator Corporation
  • Stealware – The user’s system resources can be put to the shareware author’s use. Example: Brilliant Digital.
  • Donateware – software that encourages donations to chairities or encourages users, in good faith, to give what they can.
  • Abandonware – either software that is no longer available for purchase and can only be gotten via the Internet. Although this is still considered piracy as it does not benefit its creators, it is a moral grey area.
  • Crippleware – A “free” version of a software exists, but has some functionality disabled. Extreme forms have existed, making the application nothing more than a slideshow about the tool’s functionality and not a useful program.
  • Nagware – Various reminders appear at startup to the user about the need for registration, slowing down the user’s productivity. Example: WinZip

Enabling full use

The user can often “register” his software and be given a serial number that will allow the user to¬†:

  • Access the full program
  • Use premium features
  • Use the program after a predetermined date (usually 30 days)
  • Disable advertisements, spyware, etc.
  • Get support or assistance from the developer/company

Some shareware applications enforce a time-limit or limit the user to a number of uses (a recent example is Microsoft’s Windows XP).

Commercial Links

TakeDown.NET -> “Shareware