The SoftwareKey System has been serving the needs of software authors and publishers worldwide since the dawning of the 1990s. You can imagine that after working with nearly 7,000 customers, we would have encountered nearly every possible scheme for licensing software. Just when we, too, think we have seen it all – customers and prospects alike come to us with new and interesting ideas for licensing models. And, as is typical behavior of the SoftwareKey Team, we are always ready to rise to the challenge!
This blog post is not intended to serve as a compendium of either Protection PLUS features or SOLO Server features. Rather, the aim today is to discuss – from a high-level perspective – the capabilities of selected software licensing models.
We are keenly aware of The Paradox of Choice, a compelling yet seemingly counter-intuitive argument that the fewer choices we have, the better off we are. That being said, we promise that this blog post is only meant to stimulate your creative juices when you find yourself immersed in laying out the blueprint for the application software licensing techniques most relevant to the intended use of your software product.
A recent brainstorming session in the SoftwareKey offices attended by the members of our architecture team yielded the following lineup of contemporary licensing models to serve as a stimulant for consideration and discussion by software authors who may be just starting to scratch the surface of software licensing methodology:
One of the first questions you should ask yourself is: Do I want to create an evaluation/trial version of my software? This provides your prospects with the opportunity to “test drive” the features of your software before committing to a purchase.
If your team has created a truly exceptional software product that fully satisfies the needs of your prospective customers, a trial version of the software will serve as a critical stepping stone to closing the sale. Here are a few assorted questions to ask yourself regarding software evaluations:
As a side note, we believe that It is always a good idea to collect some basic contact information about the prospect (e.g., name, phone number, e-mail address, etc.) before allowing them to download and install the trial version of your software. Having this data provides you with the opportunity to follow-up with them personally and solicit feedback as to what they like (or maybe don’t like) about your software.
Although limiting software execution to a prescribed period of time has been one of the hallmark features of Protection PLUS since its inception, historically we have observed most software authors electing to implement perpetual licensing (i.e., once the software is purchased, the customer is the recipient of a perpetual, non-expiring license for the life of the product). Recently, however, we have witnessed tremendous growth in the sale and distribution of subscription based licenses. If fact, even software behemoths such as Microsoft are now offering subscription based licenses for key products, such as Office 365.
It is typically desired to control the usage and access to a given software license, for example, limiting how many times an end-user can install a given software license. Here are but a few of the innumerable ways for you to govern access to your software:
Even though the practice of controlling the number of concurrent (or, simultaneous) users would normally fall under the previous section, the numerous considerations associated with the concepts of network floating licensing warrant the creation of its own section and even its own blog post! Under the auspices of network floating licensing, the software can be installed on all computers throughout the company and yet only a maximum number of end-users (as determined by the software author) can run the software at the same time. When the ceiling is reached, a new user will need to wait for a previously authorized user to complete use of the software and terminate his or her session. Refer to Controlling Concurrent User Access with Network Floating Licensing for more information on Network Floating Licensing.
In addition to controlling use of the software application, it is very common to license the software by one or more additional parameters, used at the discretion of the software developer. This can include any parameterized data that you want the customer’s licensed software to access during run-time. Some examples include:
As you can deduce from the preceding bullet points, you are only limited by the boundaries of your imagination as to how you can license your software to your customers with additional license parameters. Not only does SOLO Server have user-defined fields as a standard feature, but our professional service team can also customize a separate license parameters screen with customer-specific business logic for managing the license parameters. We call this a custom Edit License Parameters page.
Before making a final decision on your choice of an implementation strategy for license enforcement, though, we urge you to remember one of the paramount tenets of successful software development: Consider the privacy and security requirements of your target customers before – and not after – plowing full-steam-ahead into the construction phase of your project. Defining and integrating these requirements during the planning stages instead will enable you to avoid major disruptions (e.g., the dreaded need to go back to the proverbial drawing board) when you least expect – or want – them to occur.
You are, of course, at liberty to consider any or all of the above methods for administering access to your software and specifying applicable license parameters. For example, you can:
The Protection PLUS 5 API combined with SOLO Server gives you and your development team a set of indispensable tools which allow you to be very creative with software licensing implementations. We hope that instead of giving you Choice Overload, this blog post inspires your imagination to new heights when it comes to devising licensing algorithms to be used in your software.
One of the benefits of working with the SoftwareKey team is the over 20 years of software licensing experience. Our staff will be happy to discuss with you any or all of the above software licensing methods and how they can be best leveraged by your company.
If this blog post didn’t give you enough to consider, we should let you know that we have started to see the introduction of a whole new paradigm of software licensing models in the already-crowded marketplace. You can learn all about the latest trends by reading the second installment of this series where we discuss Software Licensing Usage Consumption Models.
Mike Wozniak is one of the co-founders of SoftwareKey.com and responsible for marketing, content and product strategy. When he isn't plotting new ways to help customers solve licensing and business automation challenges, he likes to travel and entertain guests who come to visit the Orlando area. He also writes most of the licensing tips here.
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