International Shareware Day Date in the current year: December 14, 2024

International Shareware Day International Shareware Day is observed annually on the second Saturday of December. It was created to raise awareness of shareware, educate the general public about its differences from freeware and open-source software, and celebrate programmers who give users the opportunity to try their products before deciding whether to buy them.

There are two main types of software as far as licensing rights are concerned: proprietary (non-free, closed-source) software and free and open-source software. Furthermore, proprietary software is divided into several types depending on whether it is distributed for a fee or at no cost.

A big chunk of proprietary software is commercial software, i.e. software produced for sale. On the other end of the spectrum is freeware: proprietary software distributed at no cost, but with the owner retaining the rights to the source code. Shareware is situated somewhere in between: it is available for trial or limited use at no cost, but the publisher’s ultimate goal is to generate revenue one way or another.

There are different types of shareware based on their distribution model:

  • Trialware. A program with a limited trial period; once the period is over, the user has to purchase a full version in order to regain access to the program’s full functionality.
  • Freemium. A program is available free of charge, but users need to pay for advanced functionality and features.
  • Adware. Revenue is generated by automatically rendering advertisements in the user interface.
  • Crippleware. A program that has vital features disabled or unwanted features (for example, watermarks) enabled until the user purchases the license.
  • Nagware. A program with a persistent pop-up message (“nag screen”) that reminds users to purchase the license.
  • Donationware. Users gain access to a fully operational program and are expected to make a donation either to the developer or a non-profit of their choice. Since donations are optional and donationware is fully operational, it is often considered a type of freeware rather than shareware.
  • Postcardware. Users are required to send the programmer a postcard in order to use the software. Like donationware, it is sometimes regarded as a type of freeware because this distribution model is not strictly enforceable.

International Shareware Day has been observed since at least the mid-1990s. Some sources claim that it was created by former actor and tech talk show host David Lawrence, but there is little information regarding when and how exactly it happened. Of course, the holiday’s murky origins don’t stop computer programmers and users from around the globe from celebrating International Shareware Day on the second Saturday of December.

How can you join the celebration? The best way to celebrate International Shareware Day is to purchase the full version of your favorite shareware program or make a donation in order to support its creator or creators. And don’t forget to give a shout out to the computer programmers you know and spread the word about the holiday by posting on social media with the hashtags #SharewareDay and #InternationalSharewareDay.

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International Shareware Day, international observances, software licensing, software distribution models, shareware