Anyone who used a Microsoft product in the last 16 years, whether it’s been Windows or Office, has experienced the software activation process; in which a license key is used to “lock” a product instance, you paid for, to a specific device. Â In the case of Office, you are even allowed to unlock and re-lock the instances you paid for to different devices, using the same license key.
This type of capability is made possible with the use of a Software License Manager (SLM); like theÂ Software License Manager Plugin for WordPress. Our software license manager plugin can be used to lock a web application to a domain.
Where Do License Keys Come From?
An SLM is a back-end service, on an Internet server. Â Whenever a licensed product is sold, the SLM issues a license keyÂ to the purchaser. Â An eCommerce application like eStoreÂ can easily be integrated with an SLM in order to facilitate delivery of the license key to the purchaser, along with a download link to the purchased product. Â The purchaser then uses the license key to authorize use of the product, on a specific device of their choosing.
Sir, May I See Your License?
When the purchased product is installed onto a device, the purchaser enters the license key that was provided. Â At some point, during execution of the software product, the license key is presented to the SLM. Â The SLM validates the license key and returns a validation message to the product. Â Depending upon the contents of the validation message, and the wishes of the product developer; one of several actions could happen:
- Product activates or continues functioning.
- Product enters nagware/adware mode.
- Product enters “reduced capability” mode.
- Product stops working or deactivates.
Using an SLM to actively track and manage license usage makes economic sense. Â By tracking and controlling the number of legitimately licensed product instances; developersÂ no longer have to factor lost sales, due to casual copying (piracy), into theirÂ product costs. Â Lower product cost means increased sales. Â SLM can even provide remote disablement capabilities. Â This is useful for subscription based licensing, enforcement of Â contractual obligations, or compliance with export control (or other) restrictions.