Software categories

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Screenshot of IBM PC DOS 1.00, an operating system

Software categories are groups of software. They allow software to be understood in terms of those categories, instead of the particularities of each package. Different classification schemes consider different aspects of software.

Categorization approaches

Computer software
can be put into categories based on common function, type, or field of use. There are three broad classifications:

Copyright status


GNU operating system, GNU programs, GNU software, FSF-copyrighted GNU software, nonfree software, proprietary software, freeware, shareware, private software and commercial software.[1]

Free software

Free software is software that comes with permission for anyone to use,

copy and distribute, either verbatim or with modifications, either gratis or for a fee. In particular, this means that source code must be available. "If it's not the source, it's not software." If a program is free, then it can potentially be included in a free operating system such as GNU, or free versions of the Linux

Free software in the sense of copyright license (and the GNU project) is a matter of freedom, not price. However proprietary software companies typically use the term "free software" to refer to price. Sometimes this means a binary copy can be obtained at no charge; sometimes this means a copy is bundled with a computer for sale at no additional charge.[1]

Open source software

Open-source software is software with its

Linux operating system is one of the best-known examples of a collection of open-source software.[2]

Copylefted software

Copylefted software is free software whose distribution terms ensure that all copies of all versions carry more or less the same distribution terms. This means, for instance, that

to the software (though a limited set of safe added requirements can be allowed) and require making source code available. This shields the program, and its modified versions, from some of the common ways of making a program proprietary. Some copyleft licenses block other means of turning software proprietary.

Copyleft is a general concept. Copylefting an actual program requires a specific set of distribution terms. Different copyleft licenses are usually "incompatible" due to varying terms, which makes it illegal to merge the code using one license with the code using the other license. If two pieces of software use the same license, they are generally mergeable.[1]

Non-copylefted free software

Noncopylefted free software comes from the author with permission to redistribute modify and add license restrictions.

If a program is free but not copylefted, then some copies or modified versions may not be free. A software company can

graphics boards for which nonfree versions are the only ones that work. The developers of X11 made X11 nonfree for a while; they were able to do this because others had contributed their code under the same non-copyleft license.[1]


Shareware is software that comes with permission to redistribute copies but says that anyone who continues to use a copy is required to pay. Shareware is not free software or even semi-free. For most shareware, source code is not available; thus, the program cannot be modified. Shareware does not come with permission to make a copy and install it without paying a license fee, including for

nonprofit activity.[1]


Like shareware, freeware is software available for download and distribution without any initial payment. Freeware never has an associated fee. Things like minor program updates and small

copyrighted, so other people can not market the software as their own.[3]

Microsoft TechNet and AIS Software categories

This classification has seven major elements. They are:

education and reference, home and entertainment, content and communication, operations and professional, product manufacturing and service delivery, and line of business

Market-based categories

Horizontal applications

Vertical applications


  1. ^ a b c d e "Categories of Free and Nonfree Software". GNU Project. 2012-10-18. Archived from the original on 2016-07-10. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  2. ^ "Heidelberg - Glossary - O". Archived from the original on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  3. ^ "Freeware Definition". Archived from the original on 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Software Categories". Microsoft TechNet. Archived from the original on 2008-09-21. Retrieved 2012-11-12.

External links