Everyone who needs web-site management system (sometimes called CMS - content management system) wants the best product money can buy. However no proprietary product can provide expected quality.

Some popular open source community developed WCMS4 have dozens (if not hundreds) of active developers - a hard burden for budget (and this is without marketing expenses).

Indeed if you look at Drupal1,2, it has about 6000 developers' accounts (of course, not all of them are active but at any given moment at least some of them are working: assuming only 1% of all developers are active it would be 60 people - something not every company can easily afford).;

hundreds Thousands of plugins and themes;

Large community with more than ten thousands web sites, including some famous/popular web sites.

Outnumbered by developers proprietary product lag behind in anything - security, stability, functionality, number of extension modules, themes, number of users etc.

And the gap is only increasing because if you develop proprietary software, you're alone, you have to do everything on your own.

Meanwhile open source developers enjoy collaboration when they can occasionally submit a bug report and let someone else to fix it.

Commercial software developers are more concerned about sales and marketing while open source developers more dedicated to product itself.

Individuals involved in the development of proprietary software are typically frustrated from understanding that skills they exercise on daily basis are specific to the only product and the only company - therefore their professional value decreasing because that kind of knowledge will be worthless at any position in any other company.

Open development is more effective, trustworthy and ethical than proprietary. Awareness of public code availability influence towards clean and maintainable design. Never-to-be-published code is lacking such motivation.

Open source fits consumer's needs better - for example unwanted "features" artificially restricting functionality are common for proprietary software but do not exist in open source. No annoying periodic (re)activation, licenses for number of users/connections etc.

For companies who had a misfortune of buying proprietary software it's a disaster. Due to its nature, proprietary software comes with long list or risks bundled:

  • Retire of senior developer(s) may lead to loss of quality and slow down of product development. This happen naturally over time or accidentally due to many reasons.
  • Lack of profit may lead to abandoning or selling off the project.
  • Shift of priorities in developing company - resources spent for a particular project may be dedicated to something else, if business expects more profit there.
  • Change of business plans may lead to changes in product which can make product not suitable for your needs.
  • Pricing / support charges may become unaffordable.

Not only proprietary development is vulnerable but companies themselves are subject of serious risks, namely:

  • Bankrupcy.
  • Acquisition. No company is safe. Even big companies like Sun Microsystems can be bought.

When such things happen product's destiny is uncertain and your investment likely to be gone. And this is a very real risk - in the past many companies have gone together with their products and users was abandoned;

Most open source projects if worth living, eventually will be picked up even if original developer/supporting company is gone. This is rarely (if ever) happening to proprietary software.

Surviving of open source project doesn't depend that much from what impose a very real danger to proprietary software.

Have you heard about Planned Obsolescence3? Most (if not all) proprietary software designed to become obsolete. Unless intentionally designed for obsolescence they're doomed to become obsolete, sooner or later.

Apart from risks there are drawbacks common to proprietary software like:

  • Limited support. Business model of many companies provide product support only during limited time. It means you will be abandoned unless you buy updated product again. And it is not so unusual when pretty much the same product they try to sell again some time later.
  • Remote (re)activation. Many proprietary products have time bombs rendering product worthless unless license renewed regularly. In such case client's business held hostage not just by vendor but also to number of circumstances like connectivity etc.
  • Poor quality. When product release influenced by business plan, model "release now, fix later" became quite common for proprietary software.

All of the above badly affect proprietary products.

Can you afford being depended from one and only one vendor?

Basically there are no guarantees that your vendor will be in market somewhat two years later. Average lifespan of a company is not impressive so perhaps probability of you vendor's disappearance is higher than you would like.

To the contrast none of described problems affecting open source projects. With free software you have freedom to choose whom to buy support from. Typically you can have commercial support from local company of your choice, not just from single vendor. After all if for some reason you no longer happy with you vendor you can choose one who worth your support therefore encouraging good work. With proprietary product you won't have much of a choice.

Freedom is important and has a real business value. Too many proprietary developers work on projects they neither need nor love. Software made with love and respect to freedom is better.


  • Proprietary software bad for everybody: for product; for business (both sides, vendor and clients) and for individuals involved.
  • Proprietary software has no long-term benefits over free and open source software.
  • Any possible short-term advantage of proprietary software diminished by risks and hidden costs.
  • If TCO (total cost of ownership) considered, proprietary software loose miserably.
  • Free Open source software is safer.
  • Open source software is better - it encourages quality.
  • Free software is an ethical choice which benefits everyone.
  • Freedom itself is a merit of value.


  1. Drupal
  2. Drupal home site
  3. Planned obsolescence
  4. Web content management system
  5. How many websites use Drupal?
  6. Which Open-Source CMS Has the Most Active Development Community?
  7. The Hidden Cost of Using Microsoft Software
  8. The Digital Stockholm Syndrome
  9. Reasons to Avoid Microsoft
  10. cybersource-The Cost of Software Monopoly: How Australian Consumers Lose