Freeware – Software that you don’t have to pay for, which typically can be downloaded from the Internet.
There are all sorts of freeware that can be downloaded, ranging from screensavers and desktop patterns to more useful diary software and utilities that add functionality to software. Major software houses sometimes make free upgrade patches available for downloading from the Web to cure a bug in their program. It may be that you need to decompress some software files that are downloaded – these may be self-extracting archives (click them and they will decompress) or you may need a compression/decompression program, such as the popular WinZip. Go to www.winzip.com for an evaluation copy.
Shareware Trial software that enables you to sample a piece of software before you buy it. This can be downloaded from the Internet or may be free on a CD-Rom with a magazine. It is a good way to sample software and once the trial period is over, you decide whether you want to register and buy the software or not. Some shareware is designed to stop working after a trial period.
Beta versions Beta refers to software which has been released for test purposes before the proper release. The upside is that you get to try a brand-new piece of software for free – manufacturers give beta versions away for test – and contribute to its development via feedback to the manufacturer. The downside is that you might find it’s full of bugs. Often, however, the beta version will run well and you can carry on using it, even when the full-blown paid-for version is available.