The concept of software categories is a challenging topic, and with the continuous development of new software it is becoming increasingly difficult to categorize new software. There is no universal agreement regarding “Software Categories”. However, Microsoft TechNet and Asset Inventory Services (AIS) has broken down the extensive list of potential software into seven major categories, along with 40 minor categories. What is interesting is that Microsoft and TechNet have created such extensive categories yet their list fails to mention a large portion of newly developed and available software, open-source software. Although, this is a glaring omission the list created by TechNet and AIS is still quite extensive. Other lists have certainly been created. For instance, The GNU Project has created its own list of Software based upon the Linux OS. This list is less extensive than TechNet and AIS, yet it encompasses open-source software. What shall follow is a hybrid list encompassing the vast majority of available software currently known by all.
- 1 Open-source software categories
- 2 Free software
- 3 Open source software
- 4 Copylefted software
- 5 Noncopylefted free software
- 6 Shareware
- 7 Freeware
- 8 Microsoft TechNet and AIS Software categories
- 9 Platform and management
- 10 Education and reference
- 11 Home and entertainment
- 12 Content and communications
- 13 Operations and professional
- 14 Product manufacturing and service delivery
- 15 Line of business
- 16 References
- 17 External links
Open-source software categories
According to GNU there are the following categories of software: free software, open source software, public domain software, copylefted software, noncopylefted free software, lax permissive licensed software, GPL-covered software, the GNU operating system, GNU programs, GNU software, FSF-copyrighted GNU software, nonfree software, proprietary software, freeware, shareware, private software, and commercial software. 
Free software is software that comes with permission for anyone to use, copy, and/or 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 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 GNU/Linux system.
There are many different ways to make a program free—many questions of detail, which could be decided in more than one way and still make the program free. Some of the possible variations are described below. Free software is a matter of freedom, not price. But proprietary software companies typically use the term “free software” to refer to price. Sometimes they mean that you can obtain a binary copy at no charge; sometimes they mean that a copy is bundled with a computer that you are buying, and the price includes both. Either way, it has nothing to do with what is meant by free software in the GNU project. Because of this potential confusion, when a software company says its product is free software, always check the actual distribution terms to see whether users really have all the freedoms that free software implies. Sometimes it really is free software; sometimes it is not. 
Open source software
Open source software is software that is available free of charge. It can be used and disseminated at any point, the source code is open and can be modified as required. The one condition with this type of software is that when changes are made users should make these changes known to others. One of the key characteristics of open source software is that it is the shared intellectual property of all developers and users. The Linux operating system is one of the best known examples of open source 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 copyleft licenses generally disallow others to add additional requirements 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; to copyleft an actual program, you need to use a specific set of distribution terms. There are many possible ways to write copyleft distribution terms, so in principle there can be many copyleft free software licenses. Two different copyleft licenses are usually “incompatible”, which means it is illegal to merge the code using one license with the code using the other license; therefore, it is good for the community if people use a single copyleft license. 
Noncopylefted free software
Noncopylefted free software comes from the author with permission to redistribute and modify, and also to add additional restrictions to it.
If a program is free but not copylefted, then some copies or modified versions may not be free at all. A software company can compile the program, with or without modifications, and distribute the executable file as a proprietary software product. The X Window System illustrates this. The X Consortium releases X11 with distribution terms that make it noncopylefted free software. If you wish, you can get a copy which has those distribution terms and is free. However, there are nonfree versions as well, and there are (or at least were) popular workstations and PC graphics boards for which nonfree versions are the only ones that work. If you are using this hardware, X11 is not free software for you. The developers of X11 even made X11 nonfree for a while; they were able to do this because others had contributed their code under the same noncopyleft license. 
Shareware is software which comes with permission for people to redistribute copies, but says that anyone who continues to use a copy is required to pay a license fee. Shareware is not free software, or even semifree. There are two reasons it is not: For most shareware, source code is not available; thus, you cannot modify the program at all. Shareware does not come with permission to make a copy and install it without paying a license fee, not even for individuals engaging in nonprofit activity. In practice, people often disregard the distribution terms and do this anyway, but the terms do not permit it. 
Like shareware, freeware is software you can download, pass around, and distribute without any initial payment.... However, the great part about freeware is that you never have to pay for it. No 30 day limit, no demo versions, no disabled features—it's totally free. Things like minor program updates and small games are commonly distributed as freeware. Though freeware does not cost anything, it is still copyrighted, so other people can't market the software as their own. 
Microsoft TechNet and AIS Software categories
There are seven major categories according to this classifications, and they are: platform and management, education and reference, home and entertainment, content and communication, operations and professional, product manufacturing and service delivery, and line of business.
Platform and management
Platform and management software includes desktop and network infrastructure and management software that allows users to control the computer operating environment, hardware components and peripherals, and infrastructure services and security. 
Education and reference
Home and entertainment
Applications designed primarily for use in or for the home, or for entertainment. 
Content and communications
Content and communications applications include common applications for productivity, content creation, and communications. These typically include office productivity suites, multimedia players, file viewers, Web browsers, and collaboration tools. 
Operations and professional
Used for specific job titles; contains applications designed for business uses such as enterprise resource management, customer relations management, supply chain and manufacturing tasks, application development, information management and access, and tasks performed by both business and technical equipment. 
Product manufacturing and service delivery
Product manufacturing and service delivery applications help users create products or deliver services in specific industries. Categories in this section are used by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).
- Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
- Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction
- Wholesale Trade
- Retail Trade
- Transportation and Warehousing
- Finance and Insurance
- Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
- Management of Companies and Enterprises
- Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services
- Educational Services
- Health Care and Social Assistance
- Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
- Accommodation and Food Services
- Public Administration
- Other Services (except Public Administration)
Line of business
- Line of Business
- Internal and proprietary line-of-business applications.
- "Categories of Free and Nonfree Software - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF)". Gnu.org. 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
- "Heidelberg - Glossary - O". Directimaging.com. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
- "Freeware Definition". Techterms.com. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
- "This Topic Is No Longer Available". Technet.microsoft.com. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
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