What is a Floating License?

Published on: August 26, 2022
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A floating license limits concurrent usage of a certain software. It allows for multiple people to use that software, but only a certain number of simultaneous users at any given time. Each user accessing the software, will be required to register their floating license, which will take up a registration slot for that floating license. When the registration limit is reached, then no more users will be able to access that software/license, until a registered user deregisters their floating license.

What is the Difference Between a Node-Locked and Floating License?

Node-locked: binding on a device is permanent. Once a license is activated on a device, that license will only be usable/bound to that device, and can not be transferred.

Floating License: registration on the server grants usage rights for the license. Any device can access the floating license, but only a certain amount of concurrent devices can access the floating license at any given time.

What are the Top Reasons Software vendors issue floating licenses?

  • Customers selling expensive software often prefer a cheaper licensing cost with restrictions around limiting the number of people using the license.
  • The cost of ownership is less than licensing every person in an organization
  • Floating licenses widen software vendors’ scope by spreading tools to a large base of users and departments, increasing project efficiency over time.
  • Increases the way a business can handle different purchases and digital product use.

How Does a Software Vendor Implement a Floating License?

Floating licenses can be initialized in two different ways with LicenseSpring. The first is by setting up a floating license server on the customer’s site, and the tutorial for this can be found here. The alternative method is by handling the concurrency over the internet with a floating cloud license. The guide for implementing floating cloud licenses can be found here.

What are the Main Alternatives to Floating Licenses?

  • Node-Locked Licenses
  • Subscription / SaaS licenses
  • User-Based Licenses

LicenseSpring Floating License Attributes:

  • Cloud or private network solution for handling concurrent license usage
  • Variable heartbeat
  • License borrowing
  • Pooling usage metering of different app features
  • Usage reporting, ability to revoke, and reinstate floating licenses
  • License Manager Dashboard.

Pros and Cons of Using a Floating License?


  • Can make expensive software more accessible to large organizations
  • Can make licensing software being run on many machines (50-100)  on a private network easier
  • Handling virtual machines and containers is much simpler, as they do not need to be accounted for differently as in node-locked licensing.
  • Allows users to share from the license pool, without requiring users to deactivate and activate their licenses.


  • Tedious to manage
  • If using a licensing server, running the software is reliant on the server remaining up reliably. 
  • Offline license activations or air-gapped activations can be done on every device on a private network
  • Not useful for licensing software for a single/small amount of devices.