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abandonware

[ uh-ban duhn-wair ]
/ əˈbæn dənˌwɛər /
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noun
old or outdated software for which the publisher has discontinued updates, technical support, or distribution: This Japanese RPG is so old it’s technically abandonware, but I still love playing it.
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Origin of abandonware

First recorded in 2000–05; abandon1 + -ware
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What does abandonware mean?

Abandonware is software that has been abandoned by the person or company that made or owns it, that is, the products are no longer being actively sold or supported.

How is abandonware pronounced?

[ uhban-duhn-wair ]

What are other words related to abandonware?

Where does abandonware come from?

The word abandonware is credited to Peter Ringering, who created a website dedicated to “abandoned” software in 1996. He later organized the Abandonware Ring, which consolidated a large number of the other sites for abandoned software into one location.

In the 1997 Abandonware Ring FAQ, Ringering defined abandonware as PC or console games that are at least four years old and aren’t sold or supported by the original company that made the game or any other company. The site was designed to allow people to play the old games.

The word abandonware features abandon, “to give up on,” and -ware, a combining form indicating a type of computer software (like cloudware or doxware), but with abandonware the use is humorous. Although Ringering applied the word abandonware to video games, it quickly spread to other types of software, such as inactive virus scanners.

In the 2000s, abandonware enjoyed a nostalgic popularity, given the concurrent appetite for old or obscure computer and video games (e.g., SimCity). Archiving, distributing, and downloading them, however, has been controversial, due to ownership and copyright laws.

How is abandonware used in real life?

Abandonware is still most often applied to describe defunct computer games. It’s very popular among gamers who enjoy old-school, retro games.

 

It’s also applied to any old, outdated, unsupported software.

More examples of abandonware:

“Sarinee Achavanuntakul’s Home of the Underdogs was the best abandonware site on the early web, introducing a new generation to countless brilliant games and helping spark the retrogaming boom of the aughts.”

—Rob Beschizza, Boing Boing, September 2017

British Dictionary definitions for abandonware

abandonware
/ (əˈbændənˌwɛə) /

noun
computer software which is no longer sold or supported by its publisher

Word Origin for abandonware

C20: from abandon + (soft) ware
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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