Software license

Updated: 09/07/2019 by Computer Hope
software license

A software license is a license agreement that gives an individual, company, or organization permission to use a software program. For example, in most situations, it is illegal to purchase one copy of a program and copy it onto multiple computers. Instead of requiring tens, hundreds, or thousands of individually licensed copies of a program, companies often purchase site licenses which scale according to the number of installed users.

Examples of software licenses

  • Single-user license - The software is licensed for a single user and often a single computer.
  • Multi-user license - This license lets you install a program onto multiple computers used by multiple users. Typically this may be a set number of users. For example, a five user multi-user license allows up to five people to use the program.
  • Site license - A program can be installed on an unlimited amount of computers, as long as they're at the location of the site license. Site licenses are usually for schools and businesses.

Are software licenses transferrable?

In most situations, a retail version of an operating system license and software license is transferrable as long as it isn't used on the older computer. For example, a retail version of Microsoft Windows can be transferred to another computer as long as the other computer is no longer used or switched its operating system.


If you have an OEM computer that came with Microsoft Windows or another software program, its software is not transferrable. For example, you could not use the software license from an HP or Dell computer on any other computer.

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