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Proprietary software

(also closed-source software, commercial software)

Proprietary software definition

Proprietary software is any software that is copyrighted and has limits set for its use, distribution, and modification. Proprietary software can be used by organizations or individuals under predefined conditions, but it remains the property of its creator or owner. End users can't access its source code, re-license, distribute, or copy it even after purchasing. These restrictions and conditions are detailed in the software's end-user license agreement or the terms of service that must be accepted prior to installing and using the software.

Advantages of proprietary software

  • Stability. Open-source software constantly evolves, and end users are unable to control its development. Using proprietary software means more stable solutions that businesses and individuals can rely on.
  • Support. A paying user is entitled to customer support. Proprietary software developers invest time and money to make their software as easy to use as possible. But they also aim to have an accessible and effective support system that allows them to maintain high user satisfaction.
  • Usability. Proprietary software will have dedicated apps for different platforms, user-friendly interfaces, and other features that make users feel that their money was well-spent.

Disadvantages of proprietary software

  • Cost. Proprietary software is not free to begin with but on top of that, some additional features may cost extra, surprising the end user at just the wrong moment. Prices are also not stable and can change throughout the year.
  • Licensing issues. Getting a license to use proprietary software in a large organization is a cumbersome task, and breaching the licensing agreement could lead to serious legal and financial trouble.
  • Dependency. Once you get used to the software, its limits,features, and base all your business operations on it, there's nothing worse than the software suddenly being discontinued.