Open Source vs Proprietary Software: Difference and Comparison

Technology is something that plays a huge role in all of our lives. We all deal with many gadgets and other objects and, thus, come across different types of software daily.

The 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 users to operate and perform any specific task.

A major distinction seen in software is open source software and proprietary software.

Key Takeaways

  1. Open-source software is free to use, distribute, and modify, with its source code publicly available for anyone to access and modify; proprietary software is privately owned and controlled, with restrictions on its use and modification.
  2. Open-source software is developed and maintained by a community of contributors, focusing on collaboration and transparency; proprietary software is developed by a single company or team, focusing on profit and intellectual property protection.
  3. Open-source software can be more flexible and customizable, with the potential for faster innovation and bug fixes; proprietary software can offer better security and technical support but may have higher costs and less flexibility.

Open Source Software vs. Proprietary Software

Open-source software is computer software distributed with its source code, allowing anyone to view, modify, or distribute it. Proprietary software is computer software owned by a company or an individual, and its source code is kept secret.

Open source software vs Proprietary software

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonOpen Source SoftwareProprietary Software 
Definition    Open Source software refers to software containing a source code with a license 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, it 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; 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, and Ubuntu are a few examples of Open Source software.Windows, Microsoft, macOS, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Flash Player are a few examples of Proprietary software.

What is Proprietary Open Source Software?

The software can be divided into two types: –

  1. Open Source software
  2. Proprietary software
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Open Source software is the type of software with a free licensed source code that is open to all. Open Source software began with Richard Stallman, the founder of the 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, Open Source software enables collaboration between people. That is, people can change its source code and other features.

As the name suggests, Open Source software has open access. Anyone can access it.

Anyone can access its source code. 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 of programming.

Open Source software is made and suitable for an open community of users. This type of software is meant for a wide group of people with basic programming knowledge who wish to collaborate and distribute their creations or others’ works.

Examples for Open Source software are as follows: –

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

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 paid. You will have to pay for its license, and only then can you use it.

Proprietary software is not meant for any collaboration. It is created solely to be used by the creator and other users who have paid for the license.

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Unlike Open Source software, Proprietary software does not have open access. It can only be accessed by those who own and 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 creator’s 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 people who own the rights to the source code and 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
proprietary software

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 users who paid for it.
  3. Open Source software has open access. But Proprietary software has limited and restricted access.
  4. Open Source software is flexible; 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. At the same time, Proprietary software can be used by anyone irrespective of their skill level.
  6. While examples of Open Source software are FreeBSD, Android, LibreOffice, Ubuntu, and Firefox, Proprietary software is Windows, Microsoft, Adobe Flash Player and Photoshop, and iTunes.
Difference Between Open Source Software and Proprietary Software
References
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jsc.2137
  2. https://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/abs/10.1287/isre.1110.0358

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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27 thoughts on “Open Source vs Proprietary Software: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The examples provided for both open source and proprietary software offered practical insights into their real-world applications, enhancing the overall educational value of the article.

    Reply
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      Reply
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      Reply
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