Open source vs proprietary software pros and cons

Wondering whether you should use proprietary software like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Windows or open-source platforms like GIMP and Linux? Deciding between the two isn’t easy. Both proprietary platforms and open platform systems have their strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your needs.

Why Use Proprietary Software?

Microsoft Office, Dropbox, AutoCAD and McAfee VirusScan are all examples of proprietary software. Most business owners and entrepreneurs use these programs on a regular basis. Some are free, while others require a monthly or yearly subscription. But are these tools really better than open source platforms? It depends.

Commercial, proprietary software typically has specific features and capabilities. It appeals to a specific audience and aims to provide a superior user experience. These programs usually include regular upgrades, technical support and a wide range of tools. They also tend to be easier to use and provide greater functionality than open platforms.

These products belong to the individuals or companies that developed them. Their source code is not available to the public. They’re constantly updated to detect and remove bugs and vulnerabilities, but these updates often come at a price. Developers are aware of the latest industry standards and incorporate these concepts into their programs.

Are There Any Drawbacks?

With a few exceptions, most proprietary platforms require a license and maintenance fees, so the costs add up. Plus, users depend on developers for support, updates and upgrades. Some features are pretty much useless for the average person who may not have the skills and expertise to fully utilize them. This means you could up paying for things that you don’t really need or use.

Another drawback is that you cannot modify or customize the software. If you need additional features, you must upgrade to a more advanced version – and pay extra. Dropbox, for example, offers 2 GB of space for free. Users who need more storage space are required to upgrade to a Plus or Premium plan. The Plus version lacks many of the features associated with Premium plans, such as shared link controls, device approvals, smart sync and priority chat support.

Additionally, software programs come and go – just like the companies behind them. If the developer goes out of business or decides to stop production for a software package, your day-to-day operations suffer and switching to another program can be difficult and time-consuming.

Open Source Software Advantages

Unlike proprietary software, open-source software promotes creative work and gives users full access to the source code. If you want to customize a specific program, you can simply ask a developer to do it (assuming that you have a license, which is required in most cases). You can check the source code anytime and see exactly how the program was created. These products are typically free to use and distribute.

For every proprietary platform on the market, there’s a free open-source version. Ubuntu, for instance, is a viable alternative to Windows 10. It features an intuitive interface, thousands of apps, office software, photo editing tools and gaming capabilities. OpenOffice is an alternative to Microsoft Office, while Inkscape can easily replace Adobe Illustrator.

Open-source programs are backed by developers and users worldwide, featuring chat boards and support groups. If you have questions or need help, you can simply ask – it costs you nothing. Additionally, open-source communities are constantly updating these programs and removing bugs, leading to enhanced functionality and better security compared to proprietary software.

What Are the Downsides?

In general, this kind of software is not as easy to use as proprietary platforms. Most programs appeal to skilled users who know a thing or two about programming. Plus, they often provide poor support – you may need to post your questions on dozens of forums to get a straight answer and solve the problem.

Another disadvantage of open-source programs is that they often include intrusive ads, which can affect the user experience. Developers team up with advertising companies to raise funds for their projects. You’ll most likely need to manually upgrade the program. Updates and upgrades are typically not included.

The Choice Is Yours

Now that you know the difference between open-source and proprietary platforms, decide which one is best for you. Consider your budget and business needs, as well as your technical skills. An open platform provides greater flexibility, but it can be more difficult to operate and maintain. Proprietary software, on the other hand, is easier to use but limits your options and involves higher costs.

Have you ever listened to every good thing in life has to be paid? Well, that’s not always true, especially when we talk about software. This world gives us the opportunity to get open source software that is available for everyone. And that’s not all. It doesn’t mean less quality or usability comparing it with those we pay. From now on we will compare Open Source Software vs. Proprietary Software to know the advantages and disadvantages, examples, and how can you use them in the best way.

What is Open Source Software?

In a few words, it is a kind of software that is available for everyone in the world to use, and it has the peculiarity that its code is open to developers. Surely you will ask, why does this happen? This makes possible that developers can change the code until it works the best for a specific project they are participating.

Engineers, customers, even developers love this kind of software because they can save effort, work, and time using something that it was already developed. And as if this wasn’t enough, they can personalize this main code and adapt it to their necessities. Sounds good, right?

That’s not all! Open Source Software also can be shared with others. In a few words, once you have access, you can make whatever you want.

Is it the same open source and free software?

We already know what means Software Open Source, but what happens with free software?

Although it seems to be the same, they aren’t. Open Source Software, how we saw, it is a software you can modify it and adapt it to your necessities. While free software, commonly, cannot be transformed. You can use it for free but only with qualities with it was created. It is not flexible at all.

With free software you can:

  • Use the software.
  • Run it.
  • Understand who it works.
  • Share and distribute it.
  • Create another software only if you respect these aspects.

And what you think? Software for commercial use also can be free software. Why? Well, if you respect all these points, you can charge a rate for distribution.

With Open Source Software you can:

  • Get access to the source code.
  • Permission to change the software.
  • Free distribution of original and modified code.
  • Having derived work that can be distributed under the same terms of original software.
  • The same license of the original software. You can take a new license, but it is not necessary.
  • Sometimes, If you use it, it is not necessary that your program has to be open source too.

The principle here is to promote the collaboration inside a community to generate mutual benefits.

Not all software open source is necessarily free. And free software can be also open source at the same time.

Proprietary software meaning

On the other hand, we have proprietary software, another kind of software that you have to bough if you want to use it.

This software belongs to someone else, but what does it mean? The code is closed, it is copyrighted, its use is limited at some point, especially when it is referred to distribution or modification.

Proprietary software also is called commercial software or closed-source software inattention to one of its most important characteristics.

This software also is really good and unique and sometimes, they can be modified within creators limits.

Some of the most important software programs that revolutionized the world years ago were in this category.

Characteristic of propietary software

We met enough information about free and open source software. Now it is the moment to learn at least some of the most important characteristic of proprietary software:

  • It has to be bough
  • Has a license which is the property of a developer, company or the owner.
  • Without access to its source code
  • Free distribution or copy is prohibited. Actually, it is a crime
  • Its use depends on the end-users agreement
  • They can take you to jail if you violate any rule or agreement you accepted before.

Software open source vs proprietary software: advantages and disadvantages

Software open source Advantages

  • You can adapt it to your necessities even from source code.
  • All replica or distribution it is possible although you haven’t paid it.
  • Free support because the same community that uses the software, frequently tend to answer questions, giving advice, making forums and provide detail documentation.
  • Fewer errors and faster solutions. This is related to the previous point. Projects with open source literally could have millions of people looking it, using it, and getting better.
  • For that reason, some experts think that open source software is safer.
  • It is universal.

Software open source Disadvantages

  • Limited warranty. This happens because lots of people can change it. Also usually they haven’t liability or infringement indemnity protection.
  • Open source software can have compatibility issues, and solving it could cost a lot of money.

Proprietary Software Advantages

  • Stability. This maybe is the most important advantage. Creator gives you a software which it was probed and it is capable to do perfectly all things an actions you saw before buying it.
  • Reliability and warranty of 100% from creators.
  • Proprietary software is unique. You won’t find it in any place different from the provider.
  • Most compatibility in some cases.

Proprietary Software Disadvantages

  • Higher cost. But if you look at how an invest, it doesn’t matter much.
  • You cannot modify the source code.
  • You cannot share it or distribute it.
  • You will be totally dependent on creators to upgrade and maintain the software in the source.
  • Some specialist thinks that Proprietary software is less safe because security will depend on software producers.

Examples of open source and proprietary software

Open Source:

  1. Linux Kernel

It is an open-source monolithic Unix-like computer operating system kernel. The Linux family of operating systems is based on this kernel and deployed on both traditional computer systems such as personal computers and servers, usually in the form of Linux distributions,[9] and on various embedded devices such as routers, wireless access points, PBXes, set-top boxes, FTA receivers, smart TVs, PVRs, and NAS appliances.

It is an open-source monolithic Unix-like computer operating system kernel. The Linux family of operating systems is based on this kernel and deployed on both traditional computer systems such as personal computers and servers, usually in the form of Linux distributions,[9] and on various embedded devices such as routers, wireless access points, PBXes, set-top boxes, FTA receivers, smart TVs, PVRs, and NAS appliances. Source

  1. WordPress

It is a content management system that was born 17 years ago to support writers lovers. Before, it was though like a blog platform, but it was growing, and now it is a CMS focus on websites creation. Nowadays it is one of the most important platform dedicated to this, especially for the creation of commercial websites.

You can use WordPress here.

  1. React

It is a Javascript library that was though to create user interfaces. It is maintained by Facebook and a developers community. From 2013 it is online and around 1000 developers it has used.

Read More at React.

  1. Free Office


This is a software office package that includes a text editor, spreadsheets, and every program you need to use at your office. It is related to Microsoft Office, but open source.

Obtain it clicking here: Free Office


  1. Avast:

It is an antivirus software and security suite that was launched in 1990. From there, they have been on the top of the security software market.

  1. Microsoft Window

Microsoft Windows is a group of several graphical operating system families, all of which are developed, marketed, and sold by Microsoft.They are a family of software distributions for PC, smartphone, servers and embedded systems, developed and sold by Microsoft and available for multiple architectures, such as x86, x86-64 and ARM.Source

  1. Mac OS

MacOS is a series of graphical operating systems developed and marketed by Apple Inc. since 2001. It is the primary operating system for Apple’s Mac family of computers. Within the market of desktop, laptop, and home computers, and by web usage, it is the second most widely used desktop OS, after Microsoft Windows. Source

  1. Adobe Suite

How its name said, it is a suite with different tools which are created for printed publication, video and photos production and mobile devices.

Here you can find out more information about this suite

If we have to select a winner at the software open source vs proprietary software we say that there aren’t any winner. All of them give us good and bad things; each one is useful.

Everything will depend on your objectives and necessities. Do you agree with us?

Written by Jane