The MetaTrader Comparison That Wasn’t
MetaQuotes' software has always been built to allow for a lot of user tweaking, possibly the most important feature contributing to its rise and persistent popularity. The developers correctly identified the essential need of traders to feel informed and “in control” on a trading platform, loading intel, tweaking and trading as they see fit, where MT4 very successfully met these needs.
MT4 is typically licensed to forex brokerages who then sell the software on to clients, or often supply it as part of course fees. The costs are also often recouped in trading subtleties of slightly higher spreads or broker commissions. This means that the server is handled by the broker, while the retail investor employs it to view streaming intel, tweak their desired signals and actively trade on a daily basis.
Indeed, MT4’s ability to accommodate user preferences in the forex trading arena is the base value that has made it a household name the world over. Alongside its ability to interface with trading bots, these two components of MT4 collared the market, and has since never been dethroned. In addition, many Mac OS versions are built and supplied by brokerages to their clients, further extending the app’s reach.
So far so good, but there are further reasons why the release of MT5 in 2010 never saw the world dumping MT4 and upgrading. That reason is the fact that MT5 was never designed to replace MT4. It’s not an upgrade, but rather accommodates a greater diversity of traders, including those looking at stocks, bonds or otherwise employing different instruments in their trading. Against this backdrop - and remembering that it can be confusing, having a similarly-named but numerically superior (MT”5”) product launched a few years down the line - it becomes logical to view them as distinct, separate products.
It’s easiest to think of the two apps as children from the same family. They share much, including a surname (or in this case, a first name) and have a host of similarities, coming from the same house, but they remain individuals, ultimately incomparable beyond a certain point.
Indeed, comparison is the wrong point of departure, much like modern investors often bluntly employ traditional forex metrics with cryptocurrencies. It holds for a short way, but there are certain key differences that have to be acknowledged in order to make clear sense of specific trading activities.
All of this is further complicated by the fact that the developers opted to trade on their existing work in large, building MT5 “over” the MT4 shell by only adding specific tweaks needed for stock traders; hence the reason behind the “old” MT4’s persistent dominance in retail forex trading to this day. MT4 is the forex trader’s platform. MT5 carries the same amenable nature, allowing for tweaked inputs and relevant intel to aid investors, but is wholly geared for trading on all markets other than the forex markets.