What Is Abandonware?

Programs without support or updates are considered abandonware

Abandonware is software that has been abandoned or ignored by its developer, whether intentionally or not.

There are various reasons why a software program is ignored by a developer. Even the term itself is not very specific and can refer to many types of software program types such as shareware, freeware, freeware, open source software, and commercial software.

Abandonware does not necessarily mean that the program is no longer available for purchase or download, but rather means that it is simply no longer maintained by the creator, which means that there is no technical support and that patches, updates, service packs, etc., are no longer released.

In some cases, even copyright infringement is ignored by the creator as everything about the software is discarded and left as it is without thinking about how the program is used, who sells it or reuses it, etc.

Mark Airs/Getty Images

How Software Becomes Abandonware

There are a multitude of reasons why software can be considered abandonware.

  • The program has not been updated for a long time and the developer does not feel the need to release a new version
  • A business program is no longer supported but the business still exists
  • A company with a commercial program no longer exists
  • A company buys the rights to a program directly or indirectly through a business acquisition, but does not pursue development
  • Finances prevent the creator from further developing the software
  • The software may only be used with older hardware or operating systems that are no longer available or mainstream
  • A developer releases a newer version and abandons the previous one
  • The developer is deceased and there is no one in charge of the project
  • Old shareware is released by developer but not maintained
  • The license server needed to activate and run a program is permanently unavailable and the associated software cannot run

In all of these cases, the same general concept applies: the entity developing or owning the software treats it as a dead program.

How Abandonware Affects Users

Security risks are the clearest effect that discontinuing software has on users. Since updates are no longer released to fix potential vulnerabilities, the software is left open to attack and is considered unsafe for everyday use.

Abandonware is also no further ahead when it comes to features and other capabilities. Not only does the program not improve, but it also probably becomes unusable in the coming years in terms of compatibility, as different operating systems and devices are released that the program is unlikely to support.

Abandoned software can still be purchased as used software from existing users, but abandonware is not available for purchase from the official developer. This means that if a user missed purchasing the software through official channels, they no longer have that opportunity with abandonware.

Users cannot get official support for their software. Since abandonware means no more support from the company, all general questions, support requests, refunds, etc. are left unanswered and seemingly unnoticed by the creator.

Is Abandonware free?

In reality, abandonware does not necessarily mean freeware. Although some abandonware may have been free to download, this is not true for all abandonware.

However, since the developer is no longer involved in the development of the program, probably because the company no longer exists, it is often true that he does not have the means and/or the desire to enforce the right author.

Additionally, some abandonware distributors obtain approval from the copyright holder so that they receive the appropriate permissions to distribute the software.

Basically, whether you’re downloading abandonware legally is entirely circumstantial, so it’s important to check with each distributor specifically.

Where to download Abandonware

Many websites exist for the sole purpose of distributing abandonware. Here are some examples of abandonware websites:

Be careful when downloading popular but old software and games. Make sure you are running an up-to-date antivirus program and know how to run a malware scan if needed.

  • My Abandonware: Thousands of Old Games from the Late 70s
  • VETUSWARE.COM: Huge list of discontinued games, software and operating systems for Windows, DOS, Linux and macOS
  • Abandonia: DOS game downloads
  • Abandonware DOS: Retro Game Downloads for Windows and DOS
  • OldVersion.com: Obsolete software programs, video games, and abandonware for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android
  • The Vintage Software Collection: The Internet Archive’s collection of discontinued software

Many old PC games and software are bundled in ZIP, RAR and 7Z archives. You can use 7-Zip or PeaZip to open them.

More facts about abandonware

Abandonware can actually apply to things other than software, like cell phones and video games. The same general idea applies that the device or game is abandoned by its creator and left without support for its users.

Some programs would be considered abandonware if the commercial program is owned by a company but no longer supported. However, if that same program is later archived and offered for free, it might be considered by some to no longer be abandonware.

Abandonware is sometimes considered different from abandoned software in that the developer has not officially released a statement that the program is abandoned. In other words, although all abandoned software is abandonware, not all abandonware is always considered abandoned software.

For example, Windows XP is considered abandonware because it applies the above concepts (updates and support are no longer available from Microsoft) but is also discontinued software since Microsoft released an official statement. .

FAQs

  • Is abandonware illegal?

    Not necessarily. Just because a piece of software is abandoned doesn’t mean it’s illegal to use it. However, software that was not free in the past, once discontinued, may be technically illegal to download.

  • Where to find abandonware?

    You can find abandonware on several sites online. For example, for abandoned games, there are sites like My Abandonware with thousands and thousands of abandoned games since the late 1970s. Popular abandoned software is usually still accessible.


More information about What Is Abandonware?

Programs without support or updates are considered abandonware

Abandonware is software that has been abandoned or ignored by its developer, whether on purpose on unintentionally.

There are a variety of reasons that a software program is left ignored by a developer. Even the term itself isn’t super specific and can refer to many types of software program types like shareware, freeware, free software, open-source software, and commercial software.

Abandonware doesn’t necessarily mean that the program is no longer available for purchase or download but instead means that it’s simply no longer maintained by the creator, meaning that there’s no technical support and that patches, updates, service packs, etc., are no longer released.

In some cases, even copyright infringement is ignored by the creator because everything about the software is abandoned and left as-is without a second thought to how the program is being used, who’s selling it or reusing it, etc.

Mark Airs / Getty Images How Software Becomes Abandonware

There are a multitude of reasons that a software program could be considered abandonware.

The program hasn’t been updated in a long time and the developer feels no need to release a new version
A commercial program is no longer supported but the company still exists
A business owning a commercial program no longer exists
A business purchases the rights to a program either directly or indirectly through a business acquisition, but then doesn’t continue development
Finances restrict the creator from further developing the software
The software can only be used with older hardware or operating systems that are no longer available or mainstream
A developer releases a newer version and abandons the previous one
The developer has passed away and there isn’t anyone in charge of the project
Old shareware is released by the developer but isn’t maintained
The license server necessary for a program to activate and work is permanently unavailable, and the related software cannot function

In all of these cases, the same general concept applies: the entity developing or owning the software treats it as a dead program.

How Abandonware Affects Users

Security risks are the clearest effect that abandoning a software program has on the users. Since upgrades are no longer released to patch potential vulnerabilities, the software is left open to attacks and is considered unsafe for everyday use.

Abandonware also no longer moves forward when it comes to features and other capabilities. Not only does the program not improve but it also likely becomes unusable in the coming years compatibility-wise as different operating systems and devices are released that the program will probably not support.

Abandoned software can still be purchased as used software from existing users but abandonware isn’t available for purchase from the official developer. This means that if a user missed out on buying the software through official channels, they no longer have that opportunity with the abandonware.

Users cannot get official support for their software. Since abandonware means that there’s no longer support from the company, any general questions, technical support requests, refunds, etc. are left unanswered and seemingly unnoticed by the creator.

Is Abandonware Free?

In actuality, abandonware doesn’t necessarily mean freeware. Although some abandonware may have once been downloadable for free, that’s not true for all abandonware.

However, since the developer is no longer involved in the program’s development, most likely because the business no longer exists, it’s often true that they don’t have the means and/or desire to enforce the copyright.

What’s more, some distributors of abandonware get approval from the copyright holder so that they are given the proper permissions to give out the software.

Basically, whether you’re downloading abandonware legally is entirely circumstantial, so it’s important to check with each distributor specifically.

Where to Download Abandonware

Lots of websites exist for the sole purpose of distributing abandonware. Here are just a few examples of abandonware websites:

Be careful when downloading popular but old software programs and games. Make sure you’re running an updated antivirus program and be sure you know how to run a malware scan should the need arise.
My Abandonware: Thousands of old games from as early as the late 70s
VETUSWARE.COM: Huge list of abandonware games, software programs, and operating systems for Windows, DOS, Linux, and macOS
Abandonia: DOS game downloads
Abandonware DOS: Retro game downloads for Windows and DOS
OldVersion.com: Outdated software programs, video games, and abandonware for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android
The Vintage Software Collection: Internet Archive’s collection of abandonware software programs

Lots of old PC games and software programs are packaged within ZIP, RAR, and 7Z archives—you can use 7-Zip or PeaZip to open them.

More Abandonware Facts

Abandonware can actually apply to other things besides just software, such as mobile phones and video games. The same overall idea applies that the device or game is abandoned by its creator and left without support for its users.

Some programs would be considered abandonware if the commercial program is owned by a company but no longer supported. However, if that same program is then archived and offered for free, it might be considered by some to no longer be abandonware.

Abandonware is sometimes considered different than discontinued software in that the developer hasn’t officially released a statement that the program is being discontinued. In other words, while all discontinued software is abandonware, not all abandonware is always considered discontinued software.

For example, Windows XP is considered abandonware since it applies to the above concepts (updates and support are no longer available from Microsoft) but is also discontinued software since Microsoft released an official statement.

FAQ

Is abandonware illegal?
Not necessarily. Just because software is abandoned doesn’t mean it’s illegal to use. However, a piece of software that wasn’t free in the past, once abandoned, may be technically illegal to download.

Where do you find abandonware?
You can find abandonware on several online sites. For example, for abandoned games, there are sites like My Abandonware with thousands and thousands of abandoned games from the late 1970s onwards. Popular abandoned software is usually always accessible.

#Abandonware


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