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InfoQ Homepage News Oracle Introduces a New Java SE Universal Subscription

Oracle Introduces a New Java SE Universal Subscription

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Oracle has introduced the new Java SE Universal subscription and pricing, replacing the now legacy Java SE and Java SE Desktop subscriptions as of January 2023. According to the FAQ, Oracle's goal is to simplify tracking and management of licensed environments with universal permitted use across desktops, servers, and third-party clouds.

Oracle has changed its licensing and policies several times over the last few years. In 2019, Oracle announced that Java SE would no longer be free. In 2020, Oracle introduced the NFTC (No-Fee Terms and Conditions) for JDK 17 and later, which permitted free use for some use cases.

Applications that are running Oracle JDK 8 and 11 do not need updates and can continue to run uninterrupted using these versions, either free for personal use or paid updates. The only path for users who want to update these older versions will be to choose the latest Java SE Universal subscription when it's time for renewal.

Developers using the latest LTS version, Java 17, could remain on the Java 17 update path until the next LTS version, Java 21, which is planned to be released in September 2023. Oracle released Java 17 on September 15, 2021. Since then, there have been eight minor updates.

For Java SE Universal subscription, Oracle has also granted free use for up to 50,000 processors (Oracle defined processors). This would mostly apply to server deployments. This applies to the new employee licensing model only. Oracle states in the pricing document that any customer exceeding that limit should contact Oracle for a special price. The grant, however, is a step towards simplification.

These new changes address the complexities of licensing for any organization that runs multiple versions of Java. In certain cases, the simplification might cost more than the previous licensing model, as explained by IDC and Nathan Biggs, CEO of House of Brick, in this blog post.

While Oracle's licensing changes might be a step towards simplification of licensing for OracleJDK, commercial alternatives do exist. OpenJDK has been the upstream community for Java since Java 8. It includes many vendors that contribute together with Oracle to make Java an enterprise language that backs billions of devices and serves millions of developers worldwide. There are almost no technical differences between OracleJDK and OpenJDK today.

The specifics of Oracle's licensing policies can be complex and are subject to change. Customers should consult with Oracle to determine the best licensing options for their specific needs.

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