An Insight analysis on Open Source vs Proprietary Software

We are in a century that has and will continue to witness the greatest technological seismic attacks; nearly every part of our daily lives, right from the kitchen to our work stations, can now get automated through the use of sophisticated software. Organizations and other users have a choice to either use open source software or proprietary software depending on necessities, cost, and other technical choices related to the installment of particular software. This article will highlight the differences between these two types of Software (open source and proprietary), and provide merits and demerits attached to each type of software to enable prospective users to make the correct choice.

Open source and proprietary software have significant differences and some similarities as well. It will be an ideal solution if we begin by first knowing the meaning of these two types of software. Software is said to be open-source if it has source code that anyone can access, modify and upgrade. Source code is a collection of codes that makes up software and they are written human-readable programming language which gets converted by a compiler into binary code, a language that the computer understands.

Open-source software can either be a community open-source or commercial open-source software. A community open-source software is owned by the pool of developers who merge their efforts to produce or upgrade particular open-source software for free whereas commercial open source software grants rights to the sole developers. Some famous examples of open source software include android, Linux operating system, Firefox, etc.
Software is said to be proprietary if the owner of the software, whether an individual or organization, is the only person who can modify the source code of that particular software. This means that the source code of proprietary software is kept secret by the owner and are subjected to copyright laws. Popular examples of proprietary software include Microsoft Windows, Norton antivirus, skype, MacOS, etc.

Open source and proprietary software are widely used in different sectors and both of them carry their supremacies and setbacks.


Open-source software has fewer bugs and whenever they appear they get fixed faster. This is because open source software is transparent and available for mass numbers who can detect bugs, easily and faster, and report to a community of developers who expeditiously fixes them. Also, the source code of open source software is readily available allowing users or other developers to make some improvements on it. This ensures quality software that can accomplish tasks accurately and faster.

Open-source software offers cheaper (sometimes even free) technical support services to its users. When the open-source package is being accessed, there is a global community of developers who questions the product and provide answers to posted questions. One can get support concerning questions by posting them on the developer’s blog, emailing developers or experts, or even live chats with the pool of community developers.

Open-source software is cheaper and even has a free trial period for testing its functionality and suitability before purchasing it. Community open source software is free to download with full access to its source code, this minimizes the running costs of organizations. The free trial gives users assurance that they will acquire the product that suits their demands.

Users of open-source software rely less on the developer for the upgrade, maintenance, and technical supports. This is associated with the fact that open-source software unveils its source code to everyone hence other developers or software experts can make changes to the software.


Some open-source software is complicated to set up and use them. Also, some have an unfriendly user interface, which frustrates its users.
Open-source software is used by many people around the world with few people who know its maintenance and improvement, this deleverages chances that personal questions are dealt with on time.

Some open-source software has hidden costs, i.e. it is free to download but with limited features forcing the user to pay for the uncertain cost.
Compatibility issues- this includes drivers necessary for software to run. Some open-source software needs special drivers that are bought from the developer this adds cost.


Proprietary software should be free of bugs and when bugs appear, an update is immediately released to a particular user for free hence ensuring optimum functioning and fewer disappointments to users.

Support services can be sought directly from developers of proprietary software. Developer’s support services are more useful compared to community help.
Proprietary software is usually updated regularly, this ensures optimum performance and fewer threats.


The initial and running cost (for some software) is usually high and it forces organizations and individuals who want to adopt them to set aside budgets just for software.

Proprietary software cannot be redefined to suit the particular needs of the user since its source code is secretly controlled by the developer.
Most proprietary software does not allow users to redistribute them.
Now that you are aware of the differences, merits, and demerits of proprietary and open-source software, you are left with a choice to make based on the needs of your business, price, and your technical strengths on software. Keep in mind that open source software comes with a lot of flexibilities but has a complicated user interface and on the other hand, proprietary software comes with a friendly and easier to use interface but inflexible and costly.