Commercial Software

What Does Commercial Software Mean?

Commercial software is any software or program that’s designed and developed for licensing or sale to end users or that serves a commercial purpose. Commercial software was once considered proprietary software, but now a number of free and open-source software applications are licensed or sold to end users.


Off-the-shelf software programs, such as games or those sold in computer specialty stores or even music stores and grocery stores, are some examples of commercial software.

Microsoft products, such as the Windows Operating System and MS Office, are some of the most well-known examples of commercial software.

Techopedia Explains Commercial Software

Commercial software is normally licensed, not sold. It was once the domain of proprietary software, developed from scratch by a specific company to solve a specific problem or fill a specific niche and then licensed or sold to the people or organizations that needed them.

This type of software includes financial, marketing, and accounting software. During the last decades, however, some open-source applications have also become commercial software, licensed to customers as is or as part of a service.

Contrary to popular belief, open-source software doesn’t necessarily mean free software. Depending on the distribution license, the former can be considered commercial software but comes with the source code to allow customization. Some commercial software applications may also be used freely for non-commercial use.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…