Understanding proprietary software vs. open source software is very important to your customer base. Both options have their pros and cons. Open source software allows the sharing of computer code that can be shared and changed by users. Propriety software, or closed source software, restricts users from modifying, republishing, and copying the software.

What Is Open Source?

Open source software, also known as OSS, is distributed using a licensing agreement that allows the sharing of computer code and can also be viewed and changed by other users. It is a product that can be used by the general public for free.

This essentially means that as time goes on, the software gets better. However, it can take many different twists thanks to the evolution of software. It can eventually completely change in every way.

While progress is great for any facet of business and software, it can open the product to hackers who want to break software for his or her own benefit. This is why warning labels are essential.

What Is Closed Source?

Closed source software is software that is proprietary and is distributed with a licensing agreement to specific users with restrictions to modification, republishing, and copying. The source codes cannot be shared in the public domain.

This is an arrangement that is expected from many businesses that are protective of their own product. They will want to keep control of the brand as well as the experience of the user. A common analogy is Apple instead of Android.

Open vs. Closed Source Software Difference #1: The Cost

One of the primary advantages of using open source is cost. When referring to OSS, however, the word “free” will have more akin to the smaller amount of restrictions rather than the overall cost.

Start-ups that are starved for cash, along with smaller and medium-sized businesses, often are inclined to using open source software due to the concern of costs. The cost to license is a significant reason why customers are averse to proprietary software.

If you have the ability and technical acumen in-house to maintain your software, along with the money to train staff and implement the software, open source is an ideal option for you.

However, you need to consider what the costs for this will be in the long-term. Think about the implantation, but also the support that will be needed, innovation over time, and paying for the infrastructure when your company grows.

The providers of open software are beginning to charge for certain items, like integration, add-ons, and other services. These costs can chip away at your bottom line very quickly. Instead of being free, you end up paying for services.

Depending on how complex the system is, a Closed Source CMS costs will vary, from several thousand to hundreds of thousands. This will include the base fee that you pay for the software, the integration, and yearly licensing and support costs.

Although the cost can often be more, you get a product that is more customized in return from a brand that you trust with increased levels of functionality and security. You will also get routine innovation, the ability to scale more easily, and regular support and training.

Open vs. Closed Source Software Difference #2: The Service

Open source software needs to have a solid and engaged community of users offering support in blogs and forums. However, this support can fail to provide a high-level response that is expected by the consumer.

There are often contradictions since there is no one point of contact in many cases to help issues that users have. The community has to be found online. Many argue that there is little incentive for a community of users to help with problems encountered by users.

The greatest advantage of proprietary or closed software is the amount of support and service. Regular support is a number-one advantage for those users that have few technical skills and is one of the top reasons closed source software is chosen instead of open source.

The support comes in the form of:

  • Manuals
  • Supportive options for help from reputable companies
  • A strong online presence

If you need help with proprietary software vs. open source software, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.