I previously had links to download sites toward the bottom of this page, but I since included all them as a subtopic in
the section Sites To Visit. You can
visit them immediately whenever you see the Download
Sites button on this page. Also, if you need an unzip utility for
your downloads, I recommend WinZip by Nico Mak. You can click their icon
There are 6 categories of
'no-cost' software available to us at the various download sites: freeware, shareware, 'trialware', 'liteware', 'patchware' and 'thankyouware'. The last
4 terms are my own invention because I wanted to distinguish these
categories from the others, as you'll see below.
- A vanishing species, this software is available
at no charge and payment is NOT expected. Often the software is of
narrower scope ( a single program or file), yet it can provide very
good benefit. Examples would be Font Viewer,
available from Ziff-Davis, and HTMLib,
an excellent HTML online helpfile from Stephen Le Hunt. Restrictions
usually apply, generally in the area of exploitation of the code,
removal of author identification or copyright, commercial use,
- This category of 'no-cost' software is not free
and that's the reason I have quotes around 'no cost'. By far the
largest category of software, Shareware is generally spawned by
individuals or small companies who seek compensation for their
artistic efforts, but only if the user is satisfied and can make
productive use of the code. This enables talented software writers
to offer their 'goods' to the marketplace while incurring a minimum
of marketing and distribution costs.
Many highly respected, widely used programs and applications have
been brought to us as Shareware. I am reluctant to mention any
because of the 1000's that I will be ignoring, but one of my
personal favorites is WinZip by
Nico Mak Computing, a true classic. Another is Tree
Size Professional by Joachim Marder. Paint
Shop Pro from JASC Software got its start as shareware and
now is only sold in stores, catalogues, and direct from JASC.
Shareware offerings are closely related to Trialware in that the
author/publisher gives you a chance to try it before you buy it. In
some cases the user is permitted full function and unlimited,
untimed use of the shareware program, probably the best example of
an honor system in the world today.Alas, though, this practice is
Often, shareware is registered and sold right on the Internet, to
avoid the costs of a 'boxed' version. The purchase would then be
made on the Internet at the developer's designated website.
Sometimes you're provided with a 'key' to insert into the program to
'unlock' it. After 'unlocking', the software will indicate it is
'registered', will not expire, and will sometimes release various
functions which were previously disabled. You will then be eligible
for registered upgrades, often for a long period of time. Shareware
authors usually treat registered users very honorably.
- This software is similar to shareware. It
often distinguishes itself from shareware by the scope of the
application, the larger size of the company, the higher cost of its
purchase, and the more severe nature of its restrictions and
limitations on the user. Microsoft initially released FrontPage 2000
as Trialware, distributing evaluation versions for the $5 cost of
the CD-ROM and handling.
Because of competition and the need to distinguish their product
from others, larger software companies needed a way to allow users a
limited opportunity to try their application prior to purchasing it.
Emphasis here is on the word 'limited'. Trialware products will
usually expire after some number of days or some number of uses.
Frequently the product's function is severely curtailed. Common
restrictions include disabling printing functions or saving of data
files or placing 'watermarks' atop the graphic output of the
In this age of 'caveat emptor' I think this is a fair practice and I
certainly enjoy knowing I'll be happy with the product before I buy.
When the product is then purchased, it is frequently sold in a boxed
form, from the company or from a store, and may be accompanied
by some documentation and tutorial assistance.
- This category contains programs which don't
neatly fit into the others. Examples are Adobe Photshop Lite, often
distributed with scanners, and WS_FTP LE from Ipswitch,
both outstanding programs. Sometimes these programs are available
free to non-commercial audiences, like you at home and government
and educational users, and they are always associated with heavier
duty sister products.
Many software companies beg to have lite versions of their software
included at low or no cost with related products. (E.g., I received
Adobe Photoshop LE with PageMill and Caere's Omni Page LE with my
- Naturally I needed a category for the very many
important software products which are associated with the underlying
software and hardware products they support. Patchware may repair
those products, upgrade them to new release levels, or enhance their
These files are generally found at the website of the manufacturer
or vendor of the product. Sometimes they are made available by the
popular download sites mentioned above, as a convenience to
everyone. (Microsoft's 'Powertoys' and 'TweakUI' are examples.).
Patchware is free of charge and repay the user for having trusted
the product and the company behind it.
- Some vendors of software that you've purchased
will encourage you to visit their website so they can introduce you
to other products in their stable. They will sometimes offer you a
bonus of, say, additional clip art, templates, fonts, or other
objects which work with their software.
If you have recently purchased software, it can't hurt to visit the
product's website in search of some Thankyouware.