Does proprietary software have any advantages over FLOSS software?

We all know about the advantages of FLOSS software over proprietary software, but does proprietary software have any advantages over FLOSS software?

compatibility and convenience. There are tons of proprietary software out there where it is usually the most compatible option and typically the most convenient option.

One big example is using Windows. For like 95% of tasks the general public does its still the most compatible and convenient software out there.

I find that proprietary software are easier to sell to governments.

Proprietary software can have significantly better marketing because it expects an ROI from spending money in marketing or adverts.


If Windows would go FLOSS or all Linux distributions would go proprietary, it wouldn’t change the convenience or compatibility of the software. This is not an advantage of proprietary software.

Compatibility and convenience come from the fact that Windows has a monopoly on desktops. Though for me, Linux is more convenient because I don’t have to deal with bloat, telemetry, things that cannot be changed or deleted, and other Windows nonsense.

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I guess. Its a little odd to use an example that’s not really based in reality as a counter point but maybe I misunderstood the initial premise.

To me, typically FLOSS software just doesn’t have the staff or budget to be as convenient as its proprietary counterparts which gives it an inherent disadvantage.

Thats very true. A bit over a decade ago, school computers here in Portugal started to come pre installed with both Windows XP and a Portuguese Linux distro Caixa Mágica in a dual boot config, as part of an effort to support Portuguese software companies.

Surprising basically everyone, given that Windows was the default boot option and no one was telling kids to use Linux, a lot of them started experimenting with it and you had the kids in a lot of cases asking teachers to do their work on linux, using openoffice instead of Microsoft Office. Why? Because in the Linux side there were a bunch of games pre installed (stuff like Super Tux) and none on the Windows partition. On top of that, the Windows install came with a nasty parental control system that blocked most websites.

When the government made the next big computer purchase for schools a couple years later Microsoft joined forces with HP, proposing to basically give away the computers for free on the condition that Windows was the only OS installed on them.

Nowadays schools use laptops that have a drm system that phones home every hour or so, shutting down the system if unable to do so. Said software only runs on Windows. But hey, everyone is happy because the drm is developed in Portugal. In the meanwhile, Caixa Mágica is no more


One advantage is that proprietary software can make use of software patents. For example, a program that deals with video could easily implement a H.264/H.265/H.266 encoder/decoder, license the technology from patent pools like MPEG LA/HEVC Advance, and charge users a fee to use the encoders/decoders.

With free software, it’s just not possible to do that unless you pay for an unlimited license like Cisco has done with OpenH264 (a very rare situation). You can’t control how many users you have because anyone can share free software, freely. Getting a license to implement technology covered by a software patent is next to impossible if you’re writing free software.

(5 more years and the last baseline patents for H.264 will be expired…)



That is not correct afaik, you can get licenses for ffmpeg and gstreamer from here:
They used to have a personal/home use edition, but I imagine it was as popular as paying for WinRAR.


I didn’t know about this; thanks for sharing. This page is the interesting one:

Fluendo developed a GStreamer-based decoder to enable the use of our complete set of audio and video plugins into one of the most popular multimedia frameworks: FFmpeg. Using FFmpeg codecs in commercial applications may put your organization at risk since it uses patented audio and video technologies without the proper license.

Our Enabler for FFmpeg allows the use of our GStreamer-based codec suite accompanied by its corresponding commercialization license, thus protecting organizations in front of patent holders such as MPEG LA, Via Licensing, Microsoft, or Dolby.

Because there are so many codec choices, codec packs are convenient options. Fluendo Codec Pack is our complete set of audio and video encoders and decoders especially created for enterprise.

The text is kind of sparse and open to interpretation, but this image demonstrates it well:

More about the codec pack here. They use their own codecs rather than GStreamer’s, which have their own licenses. Presumably they are proprietary, despite being based on the GStreamer system; the LGPL probably allows that.

It’s hard to verify what exactly the license is for these codecs, but I think that’s what they’re saying.

Edit: There’s this old blog post which essentially says that is what they’re doing.

The partnership brings together two companies who have the same philosophy regarding Open Source and Proprietary Software: there is a place for both models to co-exist. By commercializing their products and solutions, both companies can continue their contributions to the open source community. Codeweavers via the Wine project and Fluendo via the GStreamer community. Even their respective flagship products, CrossOver and ONEPLAY, combine open-source cores, with proprietary components that comprise their added value.

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Arent software patents simply not a thing in most countries?

Sorta, kinda, not really. Software patents are not recognized by most European states as legal, but the patent office lets a lot of them through anyway.

The European Patent Convention states that software is not patentable. But laws are always interpreted by courts, and in this case interpretations of the law differ. So the European Patents Office (EPO) grants software patents by declaring them as “computer implemented inventions”.

This is to say nothing of the fact that so many patents granted are invalid, but you’d have to spend a lot of time and money in court invalidating them. Even if you’re a giant corporation, it might be easier to settle for tens of millions of dollars than challenge patents that may or may not exist.

Thankfully, Unified Patents is doing a fantastic job of invalidating lots of codec patents worldwide (particularly ones related to AV1 by Sisvel, but also HEVC along the way).


So basically, there are no real advantages that proprietary software has over FLOSS that would benefit the user, not these greedy companies and corporations.

Not inherently, no.


Wait I just remembered one.

“Color correctness” and its associated tech seem to be an inherent weakness of FLOSS. I tried to print an image taken on Graphene → adjusted to CYMK (cant recall if on GIMP or Krita) and print it and the colors came out very wrong.

I dont think any of the Linux graphic programs (GIMP/Krita) can do CYMK conversion properly.

Dont even get me started on HDR. I sort of need them for work and they just cant display it properly vs Windows. This is changing soon as KDE6 seem to be ahead in HDR implementation, meaning I could be facing a reinstallation of the KDE spin of Fedora.

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To expand on this, X11 has some color management but from what I’ve heard it’s flawed. Wayland does not yet have a protocol for color management, so you have to set up a profile on X11 first and switch to Wayland. They’ve been hashing out the color management protocol for over 3 years now (so far it’s about 8000 words long). Some suspect it will come at around the same time as HDR because the two are related.

I suspect the Wayland protocol will be better than what X11 has due to the involvement of big stakeholders like Valve (actually using color management in practice with Proton), AMD, and Collabora once it is finalized and implemented by compositors like GNOME and KDE, but it’s going to be a while…

Disclaimer that I don’t do color-sensitive work and lack much of an understanding about color management beyond the absolute basics, but Krita works with CMYK as far as I know. It was good enough for David Revoy to move from Photoshop CS2 to Krita in 2013.

David Revoy has this super in-depth article from three years ago about getting good colors for print on Linux: The English book printed project: production report 3 - David Revoy

It uh, needs some work :sweat_smile:

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