Software distribution methods

Searching for software... What and how to choose...

There are literally thousands and thousands of programs available, and many of them are doing nearly the same things. And many are good, many are bad, and all things in between. Some are cheap, others cost a lot. So how much are you prepared to pay for a program? Much, or just a little, or even nothing at all, or do you want to tryout it first before spending your money?

And what about free software... Yeah indeed, lots of programs are just for free. Look around for "freeware", and you'll find thousands of them on the internet. But it's important to make yourself familiar with the different software distribution methods first, it only takes a couple of minutes, so read the overview below.
Keep in mind that there are lots of very good, top quality totally free programs. In fact, you can find nearly all the software you need just for free. Remember this before spending money on a program.

Software Distribution Methods

Software can be distributed on cd- or dvd-disks, or downloaded from the internet, sometimes both. In fact this has nothing to do with the cost of it, only with the distribution method.

Many times, large single programs or program "suites" will be distributed only on disk. Sometimes you can find a "demo" version of the program on the internet, just to see how it looks, but you'll have to go to a computer shop to get it, paying the price for it.

There are also "compilation" disks containing a lot of bundled software, like the ones you get often with computing magazines. Although this may look a bit strange, then you've only paid the price for the disk, and not necessarily for the software on it. There maybe free programs on it, but pay-software as well.

Whether you've got the software on disk, or downloaded it from the internet, there will be programs you may use to try them out and when you decide to keep them, you must pay for them; while other programs are -more or less- free to use.

It's important to understand that the distribution method itself has nothing to do with the quality of the software. There are lots of good programs, there a lots of bad programs. Some expensive programs are very good and some are bad, while some cheap or free software is very good, and vice-versa.

Really free software...? Yeah, but read on...

Free?... Freeware, Shareware, Adware, Public Domain,... What the hell's that?


well first of all, free means free... at least it should be... Freeware software is free to download and free to use without any time- or other limits. You may copy and distribute it as long as you don't charge any money for it (sometimes except the cost of the medium itself). Anyway, there may be some restrictions. In some cases, the software is only free for personal, non-commercial use, and much free software does allow you to use it, but you may not alter the program in any way. Programs which do allow you to modify the program-code are called "Open Source". Many of them are published under the "GNU Public License", which give the user of the software extensive rights (in the software section on this site you find some programs released under this license, and you can read more about it there). The same rights and restrictions may also apply to photographs, pictures, music and other media-items you can download from the internet and use for free, with or without any copyright or other restrictions. Mostly all free media are called "Public Domain". But, in short, as long as you download this software or media-files for normal personal use, the terms don't matter and freeware is just free.


means, it's free, but... well, you don't have to pay for the program, but in one way or another, it will show you commercial advertisements, and -in some cases- it will also install 'spyware'-programs onto your system, which will (almost) invisibly running in the background, tracking your surf-habits. You decide if you can live with that...



is not a type of software, but a distribution method. It means you may download a trial version of the program to use and evaluate it during a certain period of time (mostly 30 days or a certain number of uses). After your trial period has expired, you must decide whether to keep the program or not. If you like to continue using the program, you must register it and pay for it.



is also Shareware, but the free trial version of the program is not fully functional (e.g. you can't save your work, or some other features can't be activated).


means you can see how the program behaves and runs, but as the word says, it's just a "demo"; nevertheless in many cases, especially games, you get at "playable demo", which means you get at least some functionality, e.g. you can play some of the (lowest) levels of the game. So it's well worth a try...


Spyware, Malware...

and once again... what the hell does that mean... well, the internet is a fine place to look around, but it became also a real jungle... information about your person seems to be very useful to some people (e.g. for sending you lots of commercial mails, etc., and even for some less legal reasons...); some so called "free" programs are also installing malicious program-code infecting the system without the user even seeing or knowing this... therefore it's important to read as many information as possible about any program you want to download... in the program-sections on this site you can find also some tips and anti-spy/malware tools to avoid infections and/or to repair an infected system... so don't be too afraid either...



Related topics : Software installation and removal - Application software fixes


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All texts are free for personal non-commercial use. Copyright by the NightOwl.