There has always been a silent confrontation between nerds and geeks alike about the future of software. The millions of different software packages floating around the Internet right now are just dust specks to the amount of software that there will be in the coming years. The United States alone has almost completely changed the way it works with technology. The entire world is in the information age at this very moment. This age involves the expansion of computers, cell phones, and other pieces of technology. One thing these all have in common is the need for software. While some believe that the type of environment does not matter when it comes to making software, others believe it does. It all has to do with who is making the software and what intentions they have for it. While there are pros and cons for open and closed source software, it is vital for the expansion of software that the world opens up the software universe so that the security of the future is safe.
Not everyone knows the difference between open source and proprietary software or even what the two are. The average person does not even really care about the two but they are presented with the two types of software everyday without them even knowing it. Every piece of technology has one of the types of software built into it. So what is open source and proprietary software? Open source software is developed with the mindset of the developer being to make the software free for everyone to access and tinker with it. This way of building software is great when a developer wants to make the base line of the software but wants support from fellow developers all around the world to make it even better. Proprietary software is software that is set in stone and only the original developer(s) know what is inside. This form of development is used to make sure that no one can alter the software because the developer likes it how it is and does not want to change it. So what are the big differences and why does it matter? The two shape how devices and other pieces of technology interact with each other and how people use them.
As previously stated, open source software is the future. Open source is obviously “open” but only certain people hold the tools to take advantage of the “openness”. These people are other developers and hackers. Before anything else is written and misunderstood by people, hackers are not always bad people. Hacking can be used negatively when breaking into a system to cause terror or cause other harm but actual hacking is the actual backbone of most pieces of software and technologies. Open source is fantastic for these hackers and developers because the people who created and wrote the code just hand over everything that goes into making the software.
Proprietary software has some benefits to it as well since it is “easier to adopt” when implementing it in the real world (Matt Asay). Proprietary software is software that a developer creates but then keeps locked down so that people cannot know what is inside of the software. The only way for a person to know what is inside of the software is if they crack into the software and pull out what they want to. This process is a lot harder then it sounds and requires a lot more work on the third party developer or hacker. The reason why some people make their software so locked down is so people cannot copy it or they do not want anyone else messing with it in a way that would alter the user experience. The companies that produce the software that is developed in this fashion are usually only making software for the money. These companies do not have the rights to every aspect of the software if they made it open sourced.
So if there are good things about each type of software development technique, there has to be a bad side too. Open source sometimes makes a bad name for itself just because there are thousands of different versions and builds of it out on the market for people to access. This is because third party developers can pick and choose which version of the software they want to work with, even if it is outdated and no longer as functional as new versions. This type of software is also known to not be as secure because of the very fact that it is open sourced and anyone can get their dirty little fingers on the source code. Proprietary software used to be the only way to go when making software so that the developer could maintain complete control of everything they created. In the last decade though, it has become virtually impossible to completely control what has been created. When something is open sourced, the developer and hacker world supports the software and tries to make it better while they try to destroy proprietary software.
Most would like to believe that this concept has no relevance to their lives, but if they own any type of technology, they are on one side or the other. The main argument between proprietary software and open source software is between the mobile phone operating systems Google’s Android and Apple’s IOS. There are millions of different examples out there in the world that could be used to show the differences between the two types of software but this legendary fight between the two companies is well known by almost everyone in the modern world.
Android is the open sourced software that has gotten a lot of popularity around the world. As the world’s number one most used mobile operating system, it has a lot to prove. Google bought Android in 2007 from a small startup when Google saw great potential in them. Since then, Google has made Android available to the world by giving everyone access to it. Google is a member of the open handset alliance that promises to make their software available to everyone. This is where the open source comes into play. Google uploads the source code of every build of Android on their website for anyone to download and “play” with. Now, after the third quarter of the year of 2012, Android has a 72.4% world market share. The reason why this has made Android the number one mobile operating system is because they license the software out to different mobile phone manufacturers so that they can create their own Android-powered smartphone. The world is now flooded by thousands of different Android powered handsets, which give consumers the choice between the size and look of their device.
Apple introduced IOS with its first smartphone, the original iPhone, in June of 2007. Apple had a hit on their hands mainly because it was the first modern smartphone of its kind on Earth. What made it modern is that it had a full touch screen, a graphical user interface, and modern web browsing capabilities right on a small, 3.5” screen. From the beginning, Apple kept the “behind-the-scenes” software hidden. Apple had no App Store and no need or wants for applications at the time. This started their proprietary software ways. Apple has always been this way with all of their software; this includes their Mac OS operating system that was just getting popular again. Apple believes that as long as they control who has access to the building blocks of their software, only they can make a profit off of it. Apple manufactures their own hardware so that only they can sell and make money off of their proprietary software, not allowing anyone else to make any money. This has allowed Apple to become one of the wealthiest companies on Earth due to the high demand for their products.
There are more examples other than just IOS and Android in the computer world that everyone uses that is either open source or proprietary software. As seen on the attached visual, even computer operating systems like Microsoft and Linux are proprietary and open source software. There are hundreds of thousands of other examples of the two different types of software but these are the biggest examples of the two that almost everybody on Earth knows about.
There are pros and cons to each type of software (proprietary and open source) but it is important that everyone knows to push for open source software so that there are constant evolutions in the software world. When it comes to the process of software evolving, it is important for the base line to be open sourced so that everyone can get their hands on it and hack it. Without this, people cannot easily gain access to a system and try to make it better. When software is proprietary, people cannot easily (if ever) get into the system and edit it. This then leads to people just starting from scratch and taking even longer to make advancements. While every piece of software is either one of the two choices, the main issue that everyone knows is Android versus IOS. This is a perfect example because one can see the difference between the software and the community using it. It also shows who makes more money while one has the larger market share on Earth. These real life examples show how much effort is taken to make either types of software better and how it is important that the future of the software world is open and enables people to make it even better.