Open Source Vs. Proprietary Software - Things To Know

By James LePage
 on September 21, 2021
Last modified on January 7th, 2022

Open Source Vs. Proprietary Software - Things To Know

By James LePage
 on September 21, 2021
Last modified on January 7th, 2022

Are you wondering which is better between open source and proprietary? Don't fret. We've made things easy for you by comparing the two options. We also highlight some solutions you may consider using to grow your business faster than your competitors. 

But before then, first things first:

Why does using open source and proprietary software matter?

You can't run a business without using the software, regardless of what your business does or the size of it. You need to know which software will be suitable for your company. But it would help if you also were in a better position to make the right decision. After all, growing a business is all about making decisions that bring great results. Some involve making choices. Others need you to grab the iron while it is hot and run with it. 

man in gray dress shirt sitting on chair in front of computer monitor

Naturally, businesses tend to spend more on software alone. According to this study, companies' expenditure on software, hardware, and IT services is $487 billion. This figure is expected to increase in five years. Another report by Gartner estimates that Asian companies are likely to spend up to US$2 billion. These key facts remind us that weighing up options thoroughly is critical in business. 

Questions most business owners ask is:

How much do open source and proprietary differ? 

The most straightforward answer is, they differ a lot.

Let's define each.

Proprietary software is any software owned by an individual or company that published it. On the other hand, open-source refers to software available to the public, which means anyone can access or change the source code. 

Other major differences between open source and proprietary have to do with cost. For instance, Proprietary Software may require that you pay a monthly subscription. In contrast, open-source tends to be free and offers more flexibility to users.

Let's delve deep with our comparison, and we'll kick-start our discussion with open source. 

Open-Source history

As we've mentioned above, open-source is any software that is available to the public. Today, many software businesses use open-source software. It all started when Richard Stallman came up with the GNU project 38 years ago, and his project started a whole new revolutionary open-source software movement. Before then, it was unheard of to see developers and programmers share their source code without any restrictions. 

How Open-Source works

First, you'll find the code of open-source software in a public repository. Any business owner, developer, or programmer can access it from the repository anytime. That doesn't mean they can use the code anyhow they please. Generally, there are terms and conditions guiding the use of the code. Other than that, it is pretty much open to you to integrate or customize it.

Examples of open source

1. Mozilla Firefox

The very first example of an open-source tool is Mozilla Firefox. It is one of the most customizable internet browsers right now. While Mozilla is not as popular as Google Chrome. It holds only 3% of the market share worldwide, and it still offers multiple plugins. People love Firefox because of its mobile-friendliness, and you can access it from your Android, iOS, Windows, and Linux.  


  • You get excellent content with a click of a button.
  • A flexible search bar. 
  • You can bookmark, snap, save or share.
  • Private Browsing feature
  • You can keep your Firefox in sync.

2. LibreOffice

Another open-source solution for businesses that you should consider is LibreOffice. It is a complete office suite like Microsoft Office or Google Suite, and LibreOffice offers documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and even databases. The only difference between LibreOffice and paid solutions is that it is free. But it works efficiently, sometimes even better than paid solutions. 


  • Spreadsheet
  • Documents
  • Presentations
  • Databases.

3. Linux

Another great open-source software is Linux. This easy-to-use solution is compatible with smartphones, particularly Android devices and computers. What most developers like about Linux is that it is easy to customize and costs nothing. Any startup can benefit from using it, and companies will benefit from it because of its high security. 


  • A free source code. 
  •  A multiuser solution.  
  •  A multiprogramming system.
  • A hierarchical File System 

3. Freshworks

Any business can benefit from using Freshworks open-source software. Regardless of its size or industry. You and your team can use Freshworks to manage contacts and develop customer success strategies. Also, you can use it to improve customer engagement and maximize sales in your business. Critical features of Freshworks include email marketing, an intuitive dashboard, a phone and email support element, and integration management. 

  • Contact lifecycle stages feature
  • Custom fields.
  • Custom sales activities.
  • Custom modules.

4. Odoo

If you're looking for an open-source CRM, look no further. Odoo is one of few free CRMs suitable for both small and medium-sized businesses. Industries such as retail, restaurants, and warehouses can benefit from using it. What's more, Odoo allows developers to add different features or integrate with other tools. After all, it is free software, so you won't have to worry about paying monthly licensing fees. But it helps to have a team of IT specialists that can maintain it for you. 


  • Leads Nurturing feature.
  • Activities and calls management function.
  • Address Book feature.
  • Efficient Communication feature

Proprietary software 

Let's look at proprietary software and determine if it can be a perfect option for your business. As we highlighted above, proprietary software is any software a company publishes to charge you, and companies and individuals can buy, lease or license from the developer. The big difference between proprietary software and open source is that open-source gives users access to its source code, while proprietary doesn't.

black computer keyboard

Other significant differences include:

  • Proprietary software requires that users pay a fee for using the software.
  • Proprietary software doesn't allow users to distribute or copy the software.
  • Proprietary software gives a user license that sets boundaries on what you can do. 
  • The software developer can take legal action against you for violating the user's agreement. 

What exclusive rights do proprietary software developers have?

Remember, proprietary software is not available to the public. So the developer retains certain rights, and they include the following:

1. Use of proprietary software permission. 

The first thing you should be aware of is that the vendor will limit the number of computers or devices you can use. Companies such as Microsoft enforce this by using product activation serial numbers for every product. 

2. You don't get the source code.

Proprietary software vendors don't share the source code. Occasionally, a non-disclosure agreement allows developers to study and modify the source code but not redistribute it. This situation happens most if you want to integrate with their software. 

3. Compatibility of hardware and software 

Some proprietary software is not compatible with specific hardware or software. For instance, you can't install Microsoft on an Apple Mac or install iOS on other devices. 

Examples of proprietary software 

1. Microsoft Windows 10

Almost everyone is familiar with Microsoft Windows 10. If you have a laptop, the chance is it uses a Microsoft operating system. Is it free? No. Most Microsoft products are not free. Unlike Windows 95, Microsoft Windows 10 users can now access Windows Store apps to choose other applications. It now has a new look and an intuitive dashboard. 

Microsoft will be launching Windows Server 2022, the first version of Windows Server to be truly designed as a hybrid product.If you don't like Google Chrome, you can also use Edge. Unlike Explorer, Edge works better. The only problem is that it doesn't have plugins. Plus, you get Microsoft's voice-controlled digital assistant Cortana to make it easier for you to interact with your computer without lifting a finger. 


  • Dashboard
  • Windows Store App 
  • Cortana.
  • Edge.


It starts at $30.

2. PS3 OS

Who said businesses don't need a bit of gaming? And today, it's impossible to game without using proprietary software. An excellent example of a closed source is PS3 OS. The good news is you can update this system anytime but at an extra cost. Sony is the developer or vendor and doesn't allow users to modify the source. It is available for both FreeBSD and NetBSD called CellOS.

  • Graphical user interface
  • Netfront browser
  • Backward Compatibility


You pay around $60 to access it. 

3. Procurement Express

You can use this straightforward purchasing software that allows team members to send purchase requests on the go, get them approved from any device. Any industry can benefit from using this solution from schools, construction companies, charities, and even independent schools. 

Features worth mentioning include:

  • Custom fields
  • Requisition feature
  •  Ability to attach support with a PO and download reports.  


It starts at $30.00 per month.

To Conclude

It's essential to take into account that both open source and proprietary have their pros and cons. When you go with one of them, you should know your long-term business goals and decide based on that. Closed source software is more likely to be a stable, focused product, and if you need support, customer service is typically easier to access. Yet, you still need someone who can help you make the right decision. 

Whether you decide to go with open or closed source, you need a team of IT professionals to help you maintain those tools. For example, Tom owns a retail business, and his business uses Odoo. He has partnered with an IT company that helps him maintain his open-source solution. 

Any thoughts, questions or comments open-source or proprietary software? Reach out in the comment section below!

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Article By
James LePage
James LePage is the founder of Isotropic, a WordPress education company and digital agency. He is also the founder of, a venture backed startup bringing AI to WordPress creators.
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