java licensing

Types of Oracle Java Licenses: A Comprehensive Overview

Types of Oracle Java Licenses

  • Perpetual Licenses (Until 2019): One-time purchase with indefinite use. Required annual support for updates.
  • Java Subscriptions (2019 – 2023):
    • Java SE Desktop: $2.50/user/month, including updates and support.
    • Java SE for Servers: $25/processor/month, including updates and support.
  • Java Employee License Metric (2023 Onwards):
    • Based on total employees, e.g., $15/employee/month for 1-999 employees.
    • Covers desktops, servers, and cloud environments.
    • Custom pricing for over 50,000 employees.

Oracle has introduced various licensing models for Java over the years, each designed to meet different needs and use cases. Understanding these models is crucial for businesses to ensure compliance and optimize costs.

This article will provide an in-depth look at the types of Oracle Java licenses, including legacy licenses, subscription models, and the current employee-based license metric introduced in 2023.

Legacy Java Licenses

Types of Oracle Java License

1. Perpetual Java Licenses (Until 2019)

Before 2019, Oracle offered perpetual licenses for Java, allowing users to purchase a license once and use it indefinitely.

These licenses were commonly used in commercial environments where Java was a critical part of the technology stack.

Key Features:

  • One-Time Purchase: Users paid a one-time fee for the license.
  • Indefinite Use: The license allowed indefinite use of the Java software.
  • Support and Updates: Typically, users purchase annual support and update packages to ensure access to the latest security patches and updates.


  • The cost varied depending on the specific Java version and the support package chosen. Perpetual licenses were generally more cost-effective for long-term use but required upfront investment.

Transition in 2019:

  • In January 2019, Oracle shifted from perpetual licenses to a subscription-based model, significantly changing how Java was licensed and supported.

2. Java Subscriptions (2019 – 2023)

Perpetual Licenses

Starting in 2019, Oracle moved to a subscription-based licensing model for Java. This model required organizations to pay a regular subscription fee based on usage.

Java SE Desktop Subscription:

  • Usage: Designed for desktop deployments.
  • Pricing: Typically, $2.50 per user per month, with volume discounts available for larger organizations.
  • Features: Included access to updates, support, and commercial features such as Java Flight Recorder and Java Mission Control.

Java SE Subscription for Servers:

  • Usage: Designed for server deployments.
  • Pricing: Generally, $25 per processor per month, with discounts for higher volumes.
  • Features: Included updates, support, and advanced features needed for server environments.


  • Regular Updates: Ensured users had access to the latest security updates and features.
  • Scalability: Allowed organizations to scale their usage up or down based on their needs.


  • Ongoing Cost: The subscription model introduced an ongoing operational expense.
  • Complexity: Careful management is required to ensure compliance with licensing terms.

End of Sales in 2023:

  • Oracle stopped selling these specific subscription models in 2023 as they transitioned to a new licensing metric.

3. Java Employee License Metric (2023 Onwards)

Java Employee License Metric

In 2023, Oracle introduced a new licensing model based on the total number of employees in an organization, known as the Java Employee License Metric.

This model simplifies licensing and ensures that all potential users are covered.

Key Features:

  • Employee-Based Licensing: Licenses are based on the total number of employees, including full-time, part-time, and temporary workers, as well as contractors and consultants who support internal business operations.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: The license covers all usage within the organization, including desktops, servers, and cloud environments.
  • Simplified Management: Reduces the complexity of tracking individual usage or processor counts.


  • 1-999 Employees: $15 per employee per month
  • 1,000-2,999 Employees: $12 per employee per month
  • 3,000-9,999 Employees: $10.50 per employee per month
  • 10,000-19,999 Employees: $8.25 per employee per month
  • 20,000-29,999 Employees: $6.75 per employee per month
  • 30,000-39,999 Employees: $5.70 per employee per month
  • 40,000-49,999 Employees: $5.25 per employee per month
  • 50,000+ Employees: Custom pricing negotiated with Oracle


  • Predictable Costs: Simplifies budgeting with a clear per-employee pricing model.
  • Full Coverage: Ensures all potential Java users within the organization are licensed.
  • Ease of Management: Reduces administrative overhead by eliminating the need to track individual installations or processor counts.


  • Cost for Large Organizations: This can be expensive for organizations with many employees.
  • One-Size-Fits-All: It may not be as flexible for organizations with varying usage patterns.

Transitioning to the New Model

Organizations transitioning to the new Java Employee License Metric need to consider several factors:

  1. Conduct a Usage Audit:
    • Assess current Java usage across all departments to understand the number of employees that need to be licensed.
  2. Evaluate Financial Impact:
    • Calculate the total cost under the new employee-based model to understand the financial implications and compare it with previous licensing expenses.
  3. Negotiate with Oracle:
    • Engage with Oracle to negotiate favorable terms, especially if your organization falls into the higher employee tiers. Custom pricing may be available for very large deployments.
  4. Plan for Compliance:
    • Ensure that all potential Java users, including contractors and consultants, are accounted for in the licensing count. Maintain clear documentation to support compliance efforts.


Oracle’s Java licensing has evolved significantly from perpetual licenses to subscription models and now to an employee-based metric.

Each model has advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice depends on an organization’s specific needs and usage patterns. Remember that Java 17 is free if you do not want to purchase a license.

Understanding these licensing options and their costs is crucial for making informed decisions and ensuring compliance. Organizations can effectively navigate the complexities of Java licensing by conducting thorough audits, evaluating financial impacts, and engaging with Oracle for negotiations.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson brings two decades of Oracle license management experience, including a nine-year tenure at Oracle and 11 years in Oracle license consulting. His expertise extends across leading IT corporations like IBM, enriching his profile with a broad spectrum of software and cloud projects. Filipsson's proficiency encompasses IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Salesforce platforms, alongside significant involvement in Microsoft Copilot and AI initiatives, enhancing organizational efficiency.

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