Myth #1 Proprietary software = Commercial

Last week I wrote about ten myths surrounding proprietary and commercial software. The first of these is that proprietary software must be commercial, or vice versa, and is one of the most enduring myths of the software world.

Commercial means that you are selling something for money and profit. If you go on Amazon, you will find quite a few type of open source software which are sold for a profit even though they were not designed to be so. The OOoFf suite for example costs a staggering £27 for software which is essentially free.

Likewise proprietary software includes free limited edition software, which is regularly given away on magazine covers, as shareware and freeware. There are a whole lot of proprietary applications out there that do not strictly adhere to traditional commercial etiquette.

One which we looked at recently – Eprompter 2.0 is a perfect example. It is free but not open source. You can use it without any limitations but you won’t be allowed to debug it, reverse-engineer or modify it.

So why don’t programmers release their freeware as open source? Well, firstly, some of the parts of the software might be licensed from elsewhere. Secondly they may feel it is too cumbersome for them to do so due to the open source licensing lingo.

A third, and final reason, it that much of the freely available software is a slimmed down version of a more expensive, paid-for version. Putting the limited edition out as open source would endanger this business model.