My Turn

So Many Wares....

Andrew W. Hill - 2001.07.25, updated

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

Shareware, freeware, abandonware - what do all these names mean? So many *wares abound that it's hard to keep them straight. Here's a small list of so the ones I've found.

Shareware: This is the most commonly found Ware. The author releases a full copy of the software to the public, and users are morally (and sometimes legally) obliged to pay for the software if they use it much. The advantage is that you can find out if the software will fill your needs before you commit to buying it. You don't have to trust a demo or a salesperson. Additionally, it cuts out the middlemen (publishers, sales reps, and the like) and you don't have to have a shrink-wrapped box on a shelf in a store.

Crippleware: This is a form of shareware that locks out some of the features until you have entered a registration code. The honor system wasn't working - people like to think they're getting something in return when they fork over cash these days. I don't like crippleware, because it defeats the try-before-you-buy point of shareware. You don't know how good the locked features are until you pay.

Freeware: This is similar to shareware, except you aren't expected to pay anything for it. You don't have to pay to use it. Ironically, the term "freeware" was trademarked in the early 80s.

Public Domain: Public Domain software is more free than Freeware. Not only do you get a license to use the software for nothing, the author gives up most of his rights to the software. Usually they still hold a copyright preventing someone else from selling it, but anyone can modify the software in any way they wish. This is usually prohibited in those license agreements nobody reads.

Please note an error in the Public Domain section. As an astute reader pointed out, anything labelled Public Domain has no copyright. The author of the software has no control over it, and no way to regain control over it after it is labelled as such.

Those are the major ones that you need to know. The rest that you find are forms of shareware with funny payment options.

Beerware, Pintware, Guinessware, VBWare: This is based on the premise that someone has done you a favor by writing a program. What do you do when a mate does you a favor? You buy him a beer! The author usually invites you to meet him at his favorite pub and buy him a beer, or send him a couple bucks to have one on your behalf. For those of you that are worrying, VB ("Victoria Bitter") is the best Australian ale and has nothing to do with Microsoft. If I ever see a piece of software labeled "FostersWare" I shall be very upset....

Vodkaware, Margaritaware: This is based on a different idea than Beerware. Here, the hard alcohol is required because one must be blind drunk to deal with the inane tech calls and questions that will ensue after distribution of the program.

JesusAware "distributed free as the grace of God": Although at first it seems like Freeware, upon closer examination its more like Shareware. The registration fee appears to be your eternal soul. The game was good, but it wasn't that good.

Emailware, Postcardware: Essentially freeware, but it's natural that authors like to know their stuff is appreciated. So you send them a quick note to say they made a great program. Trust me, it's appreciated.

Daggerware: Yes, its true. Someone actually asked for knives as a shareware fee.

Kittenware, Puppyware: Authors will take unwanted kittens and puppies. I like this idea - I'd sure take another cat as a shareware fee, and it keeps them out of the SPCA's already burdened shelters.

Dateware: Ahh, the pinnacle of geek society. To write such a fantastic piece of software that women will flock to meet you.

Sexwear: Its not what you think. Note the spelling. The (female, I think) author was asking for lingerie, silk scarves, and handcuffs. Apparently it was a joke, but she claims to have received some rather disturbing responses.

Tupperwareware: This is probably my favorite. If you use the software for more than 30 days you are legally obliged to host a Tupperware party. Apparently he would enforce this if he found out you lived in the same county as him.

Subscriberware, PayPalWare: If you use the software, you're obliged to go sign up for a free service that has a referral bonus to the author of the program.

Donationware, Cancerware, UNICEFware: These authors ask you to donate a small amount of money to a nonprofit organization on their behalf.

If you have found any other amusing Wares along your travels, send them my way. I'd love to add to my list!

This article is Pushupware - drop and give me 10!

Just kidding.

Andrew W. Hill (a.k.a. Aqua) has been using Macintosh computers since 1987 and maintains that the Mac SE is the perfect Macintosh, superior to all - including the Color Classic. He is on the verge of being evicted from the family home due to its infestation of Macs (last count: about 50). Andrew is attempting to pay his way through college at UC Santa Cruz with freelance web design and Mac tech support.

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