AdwareAdware or advertising-supported software is any software application in which advertisements are displayed while the program is running. These applications include additional code that displays the ads in pop-up windows or through a bar that appears on a computer screen. Adware helps recover programming development costs, and helps to hold down the price of the application for the user (even making it free of charge)--and, of course, it can give programmers a profit, which helps to motivate them to write, maintain, and upgrade valuable software.
Some adware programs have been criticized for occasionally including code that tracks a user's personal information and passes it on to third parties, without the user's authorization or knowledge. This practice has been dubbed spyware and has prompted an outcry from computer security and privacy advocates, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (http://www.epic.org/). This feature is not, however, an essential feature of adware per se; that is, one can easily design an adware program that does not track a user's personal information.
A number of software applications are available to help computer users search for and modify adware programs to block the presentation of advertisements and to remove spyware modules.