Difference Between Open Source Software and Proprietary Software (with Table)

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Technology is something that plays a huge role in all of our lives. And being stuck in our houses during pandemic has further made technology a part of us.

We all deal with a lot of gadgets and other objects and thus, come across different types of software on a daily basis.

Software helps us to perform specific tasks. It also enables us to operate a computer. It acts as a mediator between hardware and computer.

To sum up, software is a crucial part that enables its users to operate and to perform any specific task. A major distinction seen in software is open source software and proprietary software.

Open Source Software vs Proprietary Software

The difference between open-source software and proprietary software is that open source software is open for free use and open collaboration whereas proprietary software is copyrighted with no open access and limited flexibility.

Comparison Table Between Open Source Software and Proprietary Software

Parameter of ComparisonOpen Source SoftwareProprietary Software 
Definition    Open Source software refers to software that contains a source code with license which is open to free use, modification and distribution.Proprietary software refers to the type of software that contains a licensed source code and is copyrighted for use. 
Collaboration   Open Source software is developed for open collaboration.Proprietary software is not meant for open collaboration, but only for the creator and users who have paid for it.
Access  Open Source software has open access, that is, can be accessed by anyone.Proprietary software can be accessed only by those who developed it and those who have paid for it.
Flexibility      Open Source software is flexible, that is, it can be used, modified and distributed by anyone.Proprietary software has restricted flexibility, that is, there are restrictions on its usage.
  ExampleFreeBSD (Berklee Software Distribution), Android, LibreOffice, Ubuntu are a few examples of Open Source software.Windows, Microsoft, macOS, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Flash Player are a few examples of Proprietary software.

What is Proprietary Open Source Software?

Software can be divided into two types: –

  1. Open Source software
  2. Proprietary software

Open Source software refers to the type of software that has a free licensed source code that is open to use for all. Open Source software began with Richard Stallman, who is the founder of Free Software Foundation.

He is hailed as the pioneer of free software. He wrote and released the GNU General Public License in 1989. This is a free software license, free for use by anyone. The characteristic feature of Open Source software is that it is developed for open collaboration.

Although it may have a license, an Open Source software enables collaboration between people. That is, people can make changes in its source code and other features.

As the name suggests, Open Source software has open access. It can be accessed by anyone. Its source code can be accessed by anyone.

Open Source software is also appreciated and known for its flexibility. Users of Open Source software can easily interpret, modify, use and distribute it to anyone else, without any restrictions. However, this software cannot be used without any knowledge about programming.

Open Source software is typically made and suitable for an open community of users. That is, this type of software is meant for a wide group of people who have a basic knowledge about programming and wish to collaborate and distribute their own creations or on other’s works.

Examples for Open Source software are as follows: –

  1. Android
  2. FreeBSD (Berklee Software Distribution)
  3. LibreOffice
  4. Ubuntu
  5. GNOME
  6. Firefox

What is Proprietary Software?

Proprietary software is another type of software. Proprietary software refers to the type of software that is copyrighted and licensed in terms of its usage.

Proprietary software is usually paid. That is, you will have to pay for its license and only then can you use it.

Proprietary software is not meant for any kind of collaboration. It is created solely to be used by the creator and other users who have paid for the license. Unlike Open Source software, Proprietary software does not have an open access. It can only be accessed by those own it and those who have developed it.

Another important feature is related to its flexibility. Compared to Open Source software, Proprietary software has very limited flexibility. It has restrictions in terms of its usage. Proprietary software is copyrighted. That is, the original creator or creators own intellectual property rights of the source code.

Thus, this software has restricted flexibility, since it is copyrighted. However, Proprietary software can be used by anyone, irrespective of their skills. This software is not meant for an open community, but for a group of people who own the rights to the source code and to those who have paid to use it.

Examples of Proprietary software are as follows: –

  1. Windows
  2. Microsoft
  3. macOS
  4. Adobe Photoshop
  5. Adobe Flash Player
  6. iTunes

Main Differences Between Open Source Software and Proprietary Software

The differences are as follows: –

  1. Open Source software is the software that is open to use for all. But Proprietary software is the software that is copyrighted.
  2. While Open Source software is developed for open collaboration, Proprietary software is not meant for collaboration, but only for the creators and its users who paid for it.
  3. Open Source software has an open access. But Proprietary software has a limited and restricted access.
  4. Open Source software is flexible, that is, anyone can use, modify and distribute it. But Proprietary software has limited flexibility. Its creators own the right to its source code and only those who have paid and bought it can further use it.
  5. Open Source software is not meant for those who do not have any basic knowledge about programming. Whereas Proprietary software can be used by anyone irrespective of their skill level.
  6. While the examples of Open Source software are FreeBSD, Android, LibreOffice, Ubuntu and Firefox, the examples of Proprietary software are Windows, Microsoft, Adobe Flash Player and Photoshop and iTunes.

Conclusion

Both Open Source software and Proprietary software are different types of software, that differ on various categories.

The main difference is that while the former is open for free use by anyone, the latter is copyrighted and has restricted access.

While Open Source offers open collaboration, Proprietary software offers no collaboration.

Open Source has flexibility whereas Proprietary software has restricted flexibility.

While users of the former have the right to modify and distribute to anyone, the creators of the latter own the rights to the source code and only those who have paid for the license of the software can use it.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jsc.2137
  2. https://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/abs/10.1287/isre.1110.0358