Difference Between Freeware and Open Source Software

Difference Between Freeware and Open Source Software

We have come across two teams when we download software, Freeware Software and Open Source Software. Both of the software types are free to download and use. However, there are some major differences between Freeware Software and Open Source Software.

Despite the fact, they sound similar, freeware is not the same as open-source software. Before that, you should understand the fundamental differences them.

What is Freeware?

You may be disappointed to know that there is no conclusive definition of freeware. It can simply be software that is available in the market for free of cost. Meaning, you can download freeware software without paying for it.

Now, if you are a developer, freeware can be frustrating for you because the application may be free to use, but the codes are not visible or what we typically say closed source software.

An example of freeware software is Google Chrome. It is free to download and use but the source codes are closed, we can’t view the source code. Chromium is the open-source version of Google Chrome and some of the features of Chrome are taken from Chromium.

You may wonder, what is the point of releasing freeware software? The answer can be diverse. The company that developed the freeware software may be testing a prototype or earning revenues via sponsor ads. Whatever the reason behind that, they typically don’t let you know the source codes.

What is Open-Source Software?

Typically, when a company releases software with its source code visible to the developers, it is called open-source software. So, it is always good news for you if you are a developer. Many software development companies use open-source applications and create software packages.

You can literary operate software to know how the company developed it in the first place. Then, if your skill permits, you can resume their work and create something spectacular of your own. Linux is the best example of open-source software, you will find the different Linux distributions.

Another popular example of open-source software is Android. Google developed the OS and released it in the market. Then, several companies used the existing source codes to build their personalized user interface, something we all see on mobile phones right now.

Difference Between Freeware and Open Source Software

First and foremost, you should understand that open-source software is typically free to use and the source code is available to the public. Whereas freeware software is free to use but not open-source.

One can modify the source code of open-source software to build their own software. A developer can create multiple similar software by just tweaking some code with some extra features. Android and Linux are the best examples.

The freeware software can be a prototype or full-fledged software, that is free to use. A company usually makes two versions of the software, one is free and another one is paid. The free one is the prototype for the main software, with the help of the free prototype company is gaining user feedback to build the paid version better.


Now, if we go back to the main question – Is freeware software the same as open-source software? The answer can be ‘yes’ and ‘no’ both. If any freeware software whose source codes are visible, you can say that open-source software as well.

However, in most cases, freeware software like Skype, Google Chrome, and Adobe Reader are not open source. I hope this article was helpful to you. If you liked the article then you can share it with your friends.

Posted by
Ajoy Kumar

He is a Computer Science graduate dedicated to empowering individuals to forge successful careers in programming and the dynamic world of technology and industry.

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