Allow users to freely access minor upgrades while ensuring you get $PAID$ for major upgrades

By Mike Wozniak  |  Software Licensing Tips

Posted:  November 15


While developing updates for your software, you will likely have both minor and major updates/upgrades.  Minor updates will often fix small defects found and may even introduce small new features.  You may choose to go from Version 1 to Version 1.1 for a minor update.  Major upgrades have a bigger Version number increase, such as 2.0, and often include big changes in the features and functionality of the application.

Choosing a Subscription Model May Eliminate the Distinction

Before we talk about the main topic of this blog post, let’s first discuss subscription-based licensing.  As we mentioned in a previous post, Two ways to control subscription software licenses, many big companies are reaping the benefits of moving to a subscription-based licensing model.

When choosing this model, your customers make ongoing payments for continued access to your software, often including all updates. When a subscription-based licensing approach is implemented, you likely no longer need to discuss licensing approaches for minor and major upgrades because actively-paying customers get both.

If, for whatever reason, you have chosen against the subscription model, read on.

Controlling Re-Activation Requirements for Major and Minor Upgrades

Re-activation is typically reserved for scenarios in which an upgrade must be purchased or licensed differently. It is not necessary for upgraded or replaced software to require re-activation unless you so desire.  To make life easier for your customers, you will probably want to allow them to install minor updates with minimal effort.  After all, you may be fixing problems with the software.

The authorized computer fingerprint and other license parameters will most often be stored in a location that is external to the software executable.  In this case, the customer can simply perform an in-place upgrade of your software and as long as your Installer doesn’t overwrite this license data, the software will see the same file both before and after the upgrade.  As long as your software is configured to use the same license file name and cryptographic keys, it should simply run after the minor upgrade is installed.

If, on the other hand, you are releasing a major upgrade version of your software and want to require all users to re-activate, you should first change the license file names, locations, and any other cryptographic keys or license seeds so that an in-place upgrade will not recognize the old license and therefore run.


You should first decide if a subscription approach will benefit your company and customers. If not, you can allow customers to freely access minor upgrades by bypassing re-activation; and you can charge customers for major upgrades by requiring re-activation.

How do you accomplish this? If you use the same license file and do not change the locations or encryption data, an already activated application will remain activated, just as an already expired trial would remain expired. On the other hand, in order to force activation for paid or major upgrades, change the license file name/location and encryption data.

No matter which approach is better suited for your company’s needs and goals, the SoftwareKey System has the power and flexibility to implement subscription licenses, as well as to control when an upgrade should require activation or not.

Are you ready to learn more about how the SoftwareKey System can help your company increase sales while saving both time and money? Our team is just a click or a call away. Contact us here.

About the Author

Mike Wozniak is the founder of 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.

Mike Wozniak


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