Proprietary software vs Open source software
Proprietary software is computer software on which the producer has set restrictions on use, private modification, copying, or republishing. Similar terms include “closed-source software” and “non-free software”. Proprietors may enforce restrictions by technical means, such as by restricting source code access, or by legal means, such as through copyright and patents.
Open source software (OSS) began as a marketing campaign for free software. OSS can be defined as computer software for which the human-readable source code is made available under a copyright license (or arrangement such as the public domain) that meets the Open Source Definition. This permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form. It is very often developed in a public, collaborative manner. Open source software is the most prominent example of open source development and often compared to user generated content. A report by Standish Group says that adoption of open source has caused a drop in revenue to the proprietary software industry by about $60 billion per year.
It may be argued that open source software has, in recent years, begun to move into the mainstream marketplace previously dominated by “shrink-wrapped” products such as Microsoft’s Windows operating system and Office productivity suite. The most often cited examples of alternative open source applications include the Linux operating system , the OpenOffice suite (formerly Sun’s Star Office, www.openoffice.org) and Mozilla’s Firefox web browser (www.mozilla.org).
The web browser market is entirely dominated by Microsoft, with its Internet Explorer accounting for between 90-95% of the most popular browsers over the last couple of years It is difficult to say what the future holds for open source software. On the one hand, the financial might and marketing scruples of the proprietary software giants, such as Microsoft, would seem to suggest that open source alternatives will remain just that ¬ an alternative to the dominant proprietary offerings. On the other hand, the increased interest in, and awareness of, open source can only bode well for its future proliferation