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We like freeware. Free software that performs a variety of useful functions on your computer and delivers a high quality computer experience is a running theme in this space, if you hadn't noticed before.
Why freeware? Well, of course, because it's free, and as the old saying goes, "If they're giving, take." But is anything someone is willing to give away worth the time and effort to bother downloading it? Often it is; there are a great many talented people out there who are happy to benefit the community of computer users with high quality software that is often as functional, if not more so, than similar programs that cost money.
And giving away software doesn't mean relinquishing the rights to it; by issuing software under a scheme like the GNU General Public License (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html), software writers retain ownership of the code, which can help make them rich if their program ever gets bought out by a large publisher. Whatever commercial programs exist can often be matched in power and features by freeware - certainly for home users, if not for business.
At http://www.osalt.com/about, for example, there's a long list of commercial programs and their freeware alternatives - and it is a long and comprehensive list. Free is fine, and the thrill (yes, I really am a geek!) of finding a great piece of freeware to do a job formerly done by an expensive program from Microsoft or Symnatec, for example, is fantastic.
But here's an even bigger thrill: Getting for free a piece of software that everyone else has to pay for. I'm not talking about pirating programs - I'm talking about Giveaway of the Day (http://www.giveawayoftheday.com), a great Web site from which you can download - for free and totally legally - shareware and commercial programs for which you would otherwise have to pay $20, $30, $50, or even more. There are a couple of catches of course. Each program offered by GAOTD (as us insiders call it) is available for just one 24 hour period - hence the name of the service. After that, the program reverts to its former pay status, and you have to pay for it or download a crippled or sample version. But the software supplied by GAOTD is the real thing, a full working copy of whatever program is being offered on a particular day (there's a special code routine you have to run to register the program properly).
How do they do it? By negotiating deals with software manufacturers who are looking to drum up business and/or attention for their offerings. The programs are usually a one-shot deal; they can't be upgraded for a newer version, and they can't be used commercially. In addition, you can only install the program on the day it is offered (so if you reformat your PC and you want the program in your new system, you'll have to pay for it). The hope is that customers will like the program enough to want to pay for subsequent editions and that word will spread on its effectiveness.
Whatever the reason, you and I benefit - in two ways. First, by getting a useful or fun piece of software for free, and second, by being able to brag about what a bargain you got, considering everyone else has to pay. The programs include utilities, screensaver creators, DVD and movie makers, graphics - the people running the site do attempt to come up with a variety of applications. And don't worry - they test everything out in advance to make sure it's safe and, especially, virus and Trojan free. All the programs are reviewed and rated, by the site and by users, to ensure that only the best applications get through.
Today, for example, I downloaded something called Clone Terminator, which will remove duplicate files from your PC. Today it was free - but tomorrow, it'll be $29.95. And if a useful piece of software isn't enough, you can visit GAOTD's sister site, Game Giveaway of the Day (http://game.giveawayoftheday.com), where the same rules apply. Today's game ("Chak's Temple, a game where you will have an opportunity to plunge into the world of mystery and fantastic adventures") usually goes for $19.99 - but today it cost nada. GAOTD and GGAOTD have it all - free stuff and snob appeal.