What Does Crippleware Mean?

Crippleware is a software program or hardware device with limited functionality and services that is released by its developer or vendor. Crippleware is a technique employed by software and hardware vendors to give prospective buyers/users a sneak peak or test drive of new software or hardware without providing the full version. In the case of software, crippleware is generally provided for free; users must then buy the full software package to enjoy all the features available. In hardware, crippleware often refers to hardware that is designed to underperform in order to inspire consumers to purchase an upgrade to make it work better.


Crippleware may also be referred to as a crippled version of the full software package or hardware device.

Techopedia Explains Crippleware

Crippleware is primarily a limited version of any software or hardware product. For software products, crippleware provides end users with a version of the software that has the same look and feel as the full version while excluding many functions and features. The disabled functions vary in each crippleware program, but can include the inability to save a file, import data and other advanced features. In hardware, crippleware refers to devices with deliberately limited functionality. For example, a computer might be sold without an external storage device and interfaces such as CD-ROM or USB ports.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.