Software license

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

A software license agreement gives an individual, company, or organization permission to use software. For example, in most situations, purchasing one copy of a program and copying it onto multiple computers is illegal. Instead of requiring tens, hundreds, or thousands of individually licensed copies of a program, companies often purchase site licenses that 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 if the other computer is no longer used or switched its operating system.


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

Agreement, Business terms, Commercial software, Copy protection, License, License agreement, Software license dongle, Software piracy