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    Cummings Hale posted an update 2 months ago

    Product activation is traditionally used by software vendors to safeguard their applications and enforce license agreements. While some users object to any form of license management, modern product activation systems can be better than other techniques from both the vendor’s along with the end-user’s perspectives.

    Software vendors use license management for numerous reasons. They are often interested in protection from piracy, and protection against users exceeding their agreed license terms (like the amount of installations operating inside a customer company). License management also allows the software vendor to develop, distribute, and support one type of their application, but offer different license terms at different prices to different markets.

    By way of example, the vendor will use the licensing mechanism to offer trial licenses, perpetual licenses, subscription licenses, set limits around the product features or modules enabled, set usage limits, combination’s from all of the above, and provide straightforward upgrades in capabilities, with one executable (some license management systems even permit the vendor also to offer floating licensing either over the end-customer’s network or the Web for this same executable). Finally, license management can let the vendor to automate fulfillment, management and reporting, so reducing operations costs and offering immediate delivery worldwide 24×7 with their customers.

    A key concern for software vendors is ensuring users don’t merely provide the software to unlicensed friends and colleagues, or perhaps post it on the net for anybody to download. The common option would be called node-locking, where each user’s installation is locked to a single or more parameters with their system, like the MAC address. Each time the application runs, it reads, say, the MAC address with the computer where it can be running, and will proceed only if the address it reads matches usually the one recorded to the license.

    Older approaches for license enforcement include dongle-based licensing and key-file-based licensing. A dongle can be a hardware device that plugs into a person’s computer; if the application runs it checks to the presence of the dongle and definately will run only when it finds it. Dongles do therefore allow the user to go their license around, only by physically relocating the dongle. With key-file-based licensing, the license limits and node-locking parameters are encrypted in a file, that is shipped to the person and study through the application every time it runs.

    These approaches have a number of disadvantages. Dongles have to have the distribution from the hardware, with all that entails in material cost, shipping cost, delivery times and management through the vendor. These are widely disliked by end-users, who don’t wish to watch for the crooks to arrive, monitor them, you can keep them stick out with their computer etc.

    Key-based licensing improves on dongles since the encrypted key files can be delivered immediately by email, and impose no hardware burden. However, they do require the user to deliver names in the locking parameters (or chance a utility to learn them), and do not allow users to readily move their license from machine to machine, as a result moving will need a new key file. Upgrading into a user’s license, such as extending to sign up, also requires the generation and delivery of your new key file.

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