Proprietary Software and Open Source Software: A Comparison
Proprietary Software and Open Source Software: A Comparison

If you are running a business, you may have experienced a situation where you had to choose between open source and closed source software to drive your business toward its goal. Unless you are tech savvy, making that choice would be a bit tricky. If you still find it difficult to distinguish between the two, this article can help. OR you can rely on a reputed software development company in Dubai to help you make the choice.

Both open source and closed source software have merits and demerits. It’s quite straightforward. So to make that choice, you will have to consider what your business needs to move forward. 

Let’s start with the basics.

Open Source Software

Like the name suggests, an open source software is ‘open’ in the sense that the licensing agreement allows the software code to be viewed, shared, and modified by the general public…for free. This opens the door to a lot of possibilities. A simple piece of open source code can evolve with each iterations to become something fantastic in an entire different form. 

However, it still has its share of demerits. If a developer has a bad day, goes rogue, and decides to break the code for his own benefit, that would spell trouble. 

Closed Source Software

They are proprietary software distributed under a licensing agreement. Only authorized users can modify, copy, or republish the software. So basically it’s the opposite of open source, and are not shared with the public.

This was the norm for businesses back in the day – a secure product that can give them full control over their brand and overall user experience. 

Let’s assess their differences in detail. Generally, when making the choice, people tend to consider five factors. For both closed and open source software, the differentiators come down to these factors. 


When it comes to the cost factor, open source takes the prize. Though open source is free, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be any expenses. If your business has the technical expertise, in-house capabilities, and skilled technical staff, open source can be considered cost-effective for your business. However in the long run, as your business evolves, your needs will grow proportionally demanding further investments. 

Open source developers have started to charge more for add-ons, additional services, and integrations. You will still have to pay for an open source software, but the benefits outweigh the cost in most cases. 

The cost of a closed source software, on the other hand, depends on the complexity of the product. It would be higher compared to an open source software but will feature higher levels of scalability, security and functionality. As you will be getting proprietary software from a trusted brand, technical support will be just as good. 


Open source technology has a large online community. You can get all the necessary technical support from forums and blogs, however you may not get a response in time always. Moreover, the community may not always have solutions for the user’s problem. 

The greatest merits of using a proprietary software are service and support. The two factors are also key selling points of a closed source software, and the users are not required to have advanced technical skills to use the product as well. 


Open source software are not always developed on a controlled environment, which makes the security of the product a big concern for many users. Because the software may lack validation, someone with malicious intentions can quite easily embed a virus into the software, and the user would not know. 

This risk can be mitigated if you approach a reputed open source software development company supported by a capable development team. 

Proprietary software, developed in controlled environments, though not completely flawless is nevertheless quite immune to such threats. Only the development team will be able to access and edit the source code, and the software will be heavily tested to reduce the risk of bugs and backdoor viruses. 


Open source software are generally not reviewed by usability experts, and you may not normally find a user guide as they are often ignored. Even if you get a user guide, it may not be very easy to follow. Again, if the software is from a reputed developer, this won’t be an issue. 

Proprietary software are developed for a particular audience which means the products will be subjected to usability testing before release. User manuals will also be provided by the vendors along with adequate support services. 

Flexibility and Innovation

Flexibility is one of the greatest merits of an open source software. The developers can make changes to the software without any restrictions, which means they can get creative with the features. 

This flexibility of an open source software is also a reason why restricted flexibility is considered a drawback of proprietary software. However, this restriction ensures security of the closed source software. Proprietary software also has a dedicated online community though not as large as that of open source technologies. Closed source software also attracts more R&D.


Making a choice between the two will depend on your technical expertise, budget, the availability of resources to maintain the software, and your business needs. Both open source and closed source software have their fair share of advantages that can benefit your business.