Abandonware is an informal classification of computer software or digital media that is no longer being sold, maintained or supported by its developer or publisher. It is generally software that was released before the turn of the 21st century, although this cutoff is not always followed.

The term abandonware is derived from the term “abandoned” which refers to an item or property that has been left, neglected or forgotten. This term is often used regarding the status of software and media which has not been supported for several years. Many of these products were once sold to the public by various publishers, but have since been discontinued, leaving the public with no or limited means to obtain the software.

Abandonware is considered to be outside of the normal support cycle for software, and thus is not recognised as valid software by the original vendor. It can therefore be difficult to obtain information and updates regarding the product. As a result, some users of this software rely on community-driven efforts to keep abandonware running on modern computer systems.

Despite its abandonment, abandonware can provide a useful resource for exploring and learning the history of computing. It is also used as source of emulated or virtualised software for platforms that are no longer supported by the original vendors.

In some cases, abandoned software may still be proprietary or copyrighted, and the sale or distribution of such software can be considered illegal in certain cases. As a result, many websites dedicated to the downloading of abandonware will not make the software available unless permission has been granted from the original developer or appropriate legal authority.

For users seeking more modern software, consider freeware, open-source software, or public domain software.

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