What Does Shareware Mean?

Shareware is a type of software that is distributed free of charge to prospective customers in a limited format. A full software version is distributed for a trial period (usually 30 days), or a trial version is distributed with disabled features.


Techopedia Explains Shareware

Shareware is often confused with freeware. Like open-source software, freeware is truly free, whereas shareware is proprietary and subject to copyright. Shareware with disabled features may be referred to as liteware or crippleware. As these terms suggest, shareware is limited and not fully functional.

Compared to proprietary software, shareware development is usually cheaper and easier. Shareware developers try to fill computing niches that are not always covered by larger developers. These niches include system control, network configuration, some multimedia functions (like bulk photo editing) and smaller functions that do not require large or complex software.


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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.