Open Source and Proprietary Software

Open Source and Proprietary Software

Open source software has been created or adapted by people who are happy for it to be used for free. Office type software of this kind is called ‘Open Office’. It can be downloaded easily from the Internet.

GCSE ICT - software

Advantages of Open Office

  • It’s free.
  • You can use it to open files created by proprietary software (e.g. Microsoft Excel)
  • It’s easy to use, especially if you can already use Microsoft Applications.
  • You can adapt it to suit your needs (if you know what you’re doing!)


  • Many poorly funded organisations feel a certain pressure to conform to ‘industry standard’ software – usually Microsoft. This is expensive.
  • In most cases it doesn’t offer as many functions as proprietary software.
  • There is not as much online support if things go wrong with the software.

GCSE ICT - Microsoft WordProprietary software has been designed by an individual or organisation that requires you to pay for it. Microsoft Word is an example of proprietary software.

Advantages of proprietary software

  • There is usually lots of online support and assistance
  • There are usually lots of regular upgrades.
  • It is normally quite sophisticated.
  • The best proprietary software is ‘industry standard’


  • It’s expensive.
  • It can’t be shared across networks (unless you have a license to do so)
  • Advanced software can be difficult to use.