DeBow's Review is a continuing commentary on our digital world. It's Web Guide
offers a quick look at the many options available in the most visited categories on the
World Wide Web. WebSiteFaves is a review of many of our absolute favorite websites.
Perhaps the most misused, and misunderstood, term on the web is the word Free, especially as it is used regarding software downloads.
Any software that can be downloaded and used for an unlimited time at no cost can be called “Freeware.”
Freeware, however can come with significant restrictions such as being limited for use only by individuals, or non-profits and not licensed for commercial use.
Free Software (Open Source)
Free software is software that can be used as-is, or modified by the user, without restrictions. Today, Free Software is more commonly referred to as “Open-source-software” since to allow users to modify it, the source code must be made available.
Examples of Free Software would include the Linux Operating System, the OpenOffice office suite and the Firefox browser. An exhaustive database of Free Software packages can be found at the “Free Software Directory”
Shareware is simply an old direct marketing technique updated to the Internet. Users can download the software at no cost for a reasonable number of uses or period of time (generally 30-days, or less), and then are required to pay the license fee or the program becomes unusable (usually called “crippleware”).
In other cases the user will be served advertising to use the unlicensed version, or it will add a tool bar, etc. to your browser, etc., in which case it is called “adware.”) In other cases the trial software will only have limited features (“demoware”) or constant demands for payment ("nagware.”)
One major scam that never seems to go away is the "Free" registry scan. You download 10 or 12 megs, then spend 15 minutes watching a so-called "fix" only to find out that it has done nothing, and the promised "fixes" are only available in the full version for $39.95 (scamware.)
That is not to say that there are not a huge number of fabulous shareware programs available, and that the "Free-to-try" offers are not a great way to try out programs you might be interested in buying (we do it all the time). We suggest the following sites for a comprehensive look:
Software You Should Look At
A lot is happening every day in the world of software, and we will try to bring you some of the best and most exciting developments. Clicking on the links at left will bring you a look at some of our faves.
We will try whenever possible to limit our recommendations to software that we have tried, and that have the broadest possible audiences. As always we welcome your input. Please let us know what you like, or dislike, and what you would like to see added or subtracted from WebSiteFaves. Thanks.
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