What is a Floating License?

Published on: August 26, 2022
Floating License
Table of Contents:

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.

Kyle Brandon
Kyle BrandonSystems Engineer - LicenseSpring Software
Kyle Brandon is a Systems Engineer at LicenseSpring Software, based out of Vancouver, Canada. With over two years experience, Kyle helps current and prospective customers with ensuring successful implementation of all LicenseSpring has to offer. Specializing in Computing Science, Kyle uses that experience to assist with troubleshooting user-reported bugs and provide helpful guides.