Types of software

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Custom written software

This is software specially commissioned for a particular customer.


  • Should have exactly the features required
  • Developer can be contacted to solve issues
  • Developer may provide training
  • Should not require special adaptations to be made after installation
  • Maintenance contract can be arranged with the developer


  • May not have been extensively tested
  • May take a long time to develop
  • May be expensive as the developer has to make a profit from just one customer 
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Off the shelf software

This can be bought from a supplier already boxed up and ready to install e.g Microsoft


  • Ready immediately
  • Probably been extensively tested
  • Lots of forums online where users can help each other
  • Cost will be low as the developer costs are shared among many users
  • Many users will know about it and may have discovered and reported problems


  • Probably won't be exactly what the customer needs
  • May need extensive customisation
  • Customer might have to search for training providers
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Open source softwares

This is software that has been placed in the public domain by the programmers e.g Linux


  • May be free of charge
  • Can be altered because the source code is available
  • May be extremely reliable and efficient because many people may work to improve it


  • No maintenance contracts
  • No one to contact if there are problems
  • Updates many not happen or come at irregular intervals
  • Software may be for a different platform that the company currently owns
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Proprietary software

This is software developed for profit by a company. The source code is kept as a valuable trade secret with only the complied code released. Users buy a licence to use it.


  • There is someone to go to if there is a problem
  • Should have been extensively tested
  • Updates are scheduled regularly


  • Can be expensive
  • May be inflexible to user's needs
  • Deliberate incompatibilities may be introduced so users can get locked in
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