Difference Between Open Source and Proprietary Software

Key Difference – Open Source vs Proprietary Software
 

The key difference between open source and proprietary software is that the open source software publishes the source code whereas the proprietary software retains the source code.  In the recent past, open source softwares have seen a significant developments. The open source software has become a major player in the software industry. This has also made a significant impact in economic terms as well. The quality of service of the open source software outperforms the proprietary software in many areas.

Any software program will consist of two main parts, the Source code, and the Object code. The source code can be written by programmers who will be able to understand what the code means and what it can execute. Basic programming languages can be used to create such codes. With the use of a compiler, this source code is converted into an object code, which will be made up of bits that will be read and executed by the computer. The compiler is a software program that is dedicated to the conversion task.

If there is a need to modify the software, the source code will have to be changed accordingly. The object code will be of no use in this regard as a change to it will not affect the software program. This leads us to the key difference between open source software and proprietary software; it is the source code accessibility.

What is Open Source Software?

Richard Stallman is the first person who developed free software in 1984. This free software was able to undergo changes and modifications according to users’ preference. Users have the freedom to modify, change, and share the source code. This is done under a license agreement with the user or a particular organization. There are a few characteristics of open source software that needs to be noted down. Distribution can be done freely, the Source code is accessible, source code can be modified, and these same modifications can be distributed as well.

The open source software is able to evolve via the support community and development strategy adopted by it. This in turn improves the quality of the software, and  active participation of the community is also encouraged at the same time. Companies who promote proprietary software are now adopting to open source software due to the above-mentioned features. UNIX kernel is one of the most used in open source projects.

Difference Between Open Source and Proprietary Software

Examples of Open Source Software

What is Proprietary Software?

The Proprietary software is unique as distribution can be only done by the author of the software. The same software can be run on the computer of a person who purchases the software under a license agreement. Outsiders will not have the ability to access the source code of this software. The proprietor of the software will be the only person who will be able to make modifications to the software as well as add or remove features from the software. The persons who buy the software will be constrained by a license agreement preventing them from copying distributing or modifying the software. The upgrades can only be done by the creator of the software, and these upgrades can only be purchased by the user as well which is known as a lock-in effect.

Key Difference - Open Source vs Proprietary Software

Examples of Proprietary Software

What is the difference between Open Source software and Proprietary Software?

Definition of Open Source software and Proprietary Software:

Open Source software: A software whose source code is available for modification or enhancement by anyone.

Proprietary Software: A software that is exclusively owned by an individual or a company.

Characteristics of Open Source software and Proprietary Software:

Source code (Major Technical Difference):

Open Source software: Open source software releases the source code

Proprietary Software: Proprietary Software does not release the source code but only the object code.

Distribution, Modification of source code:

Open Source software: Open source software source code can be modified and distributed*

Proprietary Software: Proprietary Software cannot be modified nor distributed **

*The distribution of the software source code is promoted. The restrictions on the software are removed to make use of the software to its optimum level.

** Due to the competition posed by open source software, proprietary software has adapted different ways to counter it. In some cases, the source code is visible and can be modified by the user, but cannot be distributed. In these instances, the code is modified to cater the need of the user while protecting the right of the software to the proprietor as well.

Usability:

Open Source software: Open source software is not reviewed by experts and lacks technical background,

Proprietary Software: Proprietary Software is supported by expert reviews and technical support.

Documentation:

Open Source software: Open source software has a lack of documentation, can be learned via online communities and forums.

Proprietary Software: Proprietary Software is well documented.

Development:

Open Source software: Open source software are developed by users as well as the developers, so the software will be efficient and adaptable.

Proprietary Software: Proprietary Software, developers, do not use the software which leads to less improvement and functionality in respect to the users.

Versions:

Open Source software: Open source software release regular versions.

Proprietary Software: Proprietary Software versions release takes time comparatively.

Developer Support:

Open Source software: Open source software is supported by many developers which lead to innovation, efficiency, freedom, and flexibility.

Proprietary Software: Proprietary Software dependent on Research and Development

Security

Open Source software: Open source software is more prone to security risks.

Proprietary Software: Proprietary Software is less prone to security risks like viruses and bugs.

Upgrades:

Open Source software: Open source software upgrades are free.

Proprietary Software: Proprietary Software upgrades sometimes come at a cost.

Open Source vs Proprietary Software

Summary:

Open source software has seen a significant amount of success due to its features. Linux is an example project which has a large market share in the server industry whereas Amazon claimed to have cut technology cost by shifting to open source software. Open source software is more innovative as well as efficient at the same time. The future seems bright for open source software due to the great features they are able to offer. Firms like IBM and HP have started to shift from proprietary software to open-source software, and it is expected that more firms will adopt the same strategies to take advantage of this type of software.