For the computer user on a tight budget, Windows® freeware can be a good alternative to purchasing software. Instead of running out to pay for the latest software, you can simply search the Internet for free alternatives. Many of these programs have been developed by hobbyists eager to share their technical skills with others, but there are also freeware downloads offered by professional programmers hoping to gain exposure for their work or by companies wanting to use Windows® freeware as an enticement to get users to purchase other products.
Just like programs you can purchase in an electronics store, there are Windows® freeware applications available to suit almost any computing need. Games and computer screensavers tend to be the most popular freeware downloads, but there are also programs available to help with time management, digital image editing, and personal budgeting. Open Office, an open source alternative to Microsoft Office®, provides word processing, spreadsheet, database, and presentation applications. You can also find freeware for mobile computing devices, such as Pocket PC® freeware, Smartphone freeware, and Palm® freeware.
Freeware is often confused with shareware by people who are looking for computer bargains. Understanding the difference between these terms will make it easier to choose the program that's best for your needs. Freeware downloads are those which can be used with no restrictions without providing payment to the maker or distributor of the application. Shareware downloads are generally trial applications that are free for a limited time only or offer a partially functional version of a program that you must pay to purchase.
When downloading Windows® freeware, it's important to do your research. Check out sites offering reviews of programs to make sure other users have found the application to be useful. Since freeware can sometimes be a cover for distributing viruses, adware, or malware, it's also a good idea to make sure your security settings and virus protection software are up to date before downloading any applications. If you have important data stored on your computer, such as work-related presentations or family photos, you may even want to consider making a complete file backup before installing Windows® freeware downloads.
Another factor to keep in mind when deciding whether to take advantage of Windows® freeware downloads or to purchase a comparable software program is the availability of technical support. When you pay to purchase software for your computer, you're entitled to technical support and automatic program updates. These features are generally not available with freeware programs, so you're left to work out any bugs on your own time.