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Why are programs not distributed in compiled format?

But they give instructions like cd downloaded_program ./configure make install This creates the ELF that is needed, and probably some .so files. Why not put those inside a zip file for download, ...
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Install newer version of application in $HOME without root access and linking to installed app

I have this linux box without root access with a quite old emacs, so I downloaded the latest version and built as follows: download to $HOME/SRC configure and build in $HOME/BLD with --prefix=$HOME ...