Proprietary Better In Quality Than Open Source?

Gavin Clarke reports that open source software is still growing. The community is choosing the proprietary better polished rivals.

When it comes to software, “quality” seems to be winning over “free” if Evans Data Corp’s latest sampling of the development community’s pulse is anything to go by.

Gavin seems to indicate that the proprietary rivals are better polished and of better quality. It is true, but not in all cases. Even in the cases that have reported where Eclipse and NetBeans were placed last in the list, quality of the tools themselves might not be the cause. While its true, the cause might be the peripheral requirements like installing them or setting them up the right way. But the open source category of products itself scores much higher on the quality.

Linux itself is the best example of open source, in terms of quality and growth. In the webservers arena, Apache has surpassed many proprietary competitors. One of the comments to the article mentions projects like XGL and Inkscape. MonoDevelop and SharpDevelop are excellent examples of IDEs. For the developers, the gcc is a benchmark in compilers. Technologies like Firefox are forcing its competitors to improve their quality to survive the competition. Try to find if the multiple open source CMSs lack in quality. This space will be too short if we start listing the multitudes of open source frameworks and toolkits available that can virtually represent the standards themselves. In fact there is an entire stack of open source software that can be used to bootstrap your business.

The other factor that the article seems to stress on is that cost is the biggest factor for accepting open source. One of the most important things to note is that neither open source nor free software implies free of cost. It implies free as in freedom of modifying, redistributing and not as free beer. It is a different thing that most of the open source products are free of cost. Open source opens up the product to a wider talent base, the world. This itself provides more probability of higher quality than the closed ones.

I would in fact say that open source is on a much higher level regarding quality as against the proprietary ones. I have said this a lot of times – open source has to now focus more on solving problems for the end users rather than delivering just products.

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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