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Quick Definition

Usually, software is either entirely free to use or you're required to purchase a license. Ad-supported programs find a middle ground with advertising. Instead of charging you for the program, the developers earn money from the ads it displays. This way, you get to use the program for "free" while the developers get paid for their work.

In other words, ad-supported software is simply software whose development is supported by advertisements. Contrast adware, which is a type of malicious software that only exists to bombard the user with unwanted ads.