Computer Active (UK) - - Reader's Tips Special Issue -

The an­swer lies in whether a pro­gram was built us­ing open-source code. If so, then any­one can see and im­prove the code by, for ex­am­ple, de­sign­ing com­pat­i­ble ex­tras. Many users pre­fer open-source pro­grams be­cause they are usu­ally free, can be eas­ily tweaked, and are fre­quently up­dated with new tools. How­ever, there’s of­ten no cen­tral point of con­tact if some­thing goes wrong.

In con­trast, ‘pro­pri­etary’ soft­ware can only be al­tered by its de­vel­op­ers, so or­di­nary users can’t build ex­tras for it. Com­pa­nies like Mi­crosoft (with Win­dows, Skype) and Ap­ple (Mac OS, itunes) take this route be­cause they want to re­tain com­plete con­trol of their soft­ware, typ­i­cally to max­imise their rev­enues.

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