I've written before about problems with proprietary software, and how some software vendors are locking in customers and using their leverage to cause painful headaches. Just today I was dealing with changing an IP address on a Windows server and therefore needed to get a new license file for a software package that runs on that server. The server is obviously actively being used, so the IP address will be changed probably soon on a weekend. I contacted the vendor to get a new license file, and they first said they needed a bunch of information from the server AFTER the new IP address is assigned. I responded and explained that I cannot change the IP first, then wait for hours/days to get a new license file as this would cause downtime for the users. So, they responded and said that they could generate a new license file ahead of time, but they need to know the exact time that we will be changing the IP address of the server. Seriously? What else could they need, our network infrastructure design, too?
My point is, vendors that write proprietary software and license it with a tight grip, cause a lot of headaches and wasted time for their customers. They can get away with things like locking in their customers, making it extremely difficult for the customer to shop around for cheaper and more flexible alternatives. They also can require extensive registration and activation techniques, collecting further information from you that is stored on their systems and potentially can be viewed by who knows.
This is why I greatly prefer open source software. It is completely free as in freedom, and we can use it anonymously and that's just OK with everybody. I don't like giving away lots of details to vendors about any of my hardware/software. Many times, they don't need to know anything more than the simple fact that you've paid them money, and you own their product. Unfortunately with the nature of proprietary software, piracy and other activities are common so they need to license and take control of the software. Thankfully, open source software is completely free of piracy. All of the activation, registration, and information collecting steps are simply not needed, period. To me, I overwhelmingly prefer this as it means I don't have to worry about it and I can just use the software and move on with things.