When software is developed, its source code is written in a language like C, Java. These programming languages have English words that any programmer can easily understand. But the computer cannot understand these languages. Therefore, to be executed on a computer, they are compiled and converted into machine code or intermediate code. Once compiled, the code of the software can neither be read by humans nor it can be changed. But after compiling it, the computer can understand the code and execute it.
What is Closed Source Software?
When only compiled versions of the software are distributed and the original source code kept private, then such software is called closed source software. For example Windows Operating System, Norton AntiVirus, Photoshop, etc. Users can use these software but they cannot change them. Because their source code is not provided by their respective developer companies. Usually, such applications are not free. However many closed source software are also available for free. Such free closed source software use different business models.
What is Open Source Software?
When a compiled version of a software is distributed along with its source code, then it is called open-source software. People can not only use such software but if they have knowledge of programming, they can also change it according to their needs. Open-Source software applications are available for free.
When the market share of open source software started increasing, many people felt that it might threaten Microsoft. Microsoft’s business relies on closed source business model. Earlier, Microsoft also promoted that open source software is not good and only closed software is good. In this way, their image became like an antagonist to open-source software. But eventually, it has started taking interest in open source software as well. Now Linux can be run inside Windows through the Windows subsystem for Linux.
So the question arises whether Microsoft can become a company with open-source software? Can Open Source Software’s Popularity Hurt Microsoft? To understand this, we must first understand that Open Source is a Business Model.
All the companies that make open-source software do not ask their programmers to work for free. Open-source software also has a business model in the same way as closed source software. For example, Red Hat’s operating system is open-source, but it charges for help and support. While Microsoft’s Windows is a closed source OS, it charges for OS but provides support for free.
Look at Google. Google’s Chrome browser is open-source software. This helps in better development of the browser. But Google’s source of revenue is its various online services. So the better the browser, people will be able to use its online services as more easily that will benefit Google. Keep in mind that Google does not distribute the source code of its online services like Gmail, Google search, YouTube, AdWord etc. and provides them as Software As A Service.
Similarly, other companies also earn from free and open-source software using some business models. Open-source software is also a business model in the same way as closed source software. If Microsoft ever had to change the business model, it would certainly change, but it would remain profitable. Hence, for Microsoft, there is no risk from open-source software.