Eli5 what are licenses on operating systems?

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Eli5 what are licenses on operating systems?

In: Technology

A license is basically the privilege of using the software. When you pay for software oftentimes you’re not buying and owning an actual product, but instead you’re buying for the ability to access and use the software.

This ranges from video games you buy on Steam to corporate licenses to use Microsoft Office at work.

As /u/Skatingraccoon says its the thing that allows you permission from the vendor to run the operating system.

However, you may also be thinking about open source licenses like when you open your smartphone’s About/Software screen. In that case, open source software is software that is developed by community members (and sometimes corporations) but is freely available for use by all, with the one condition that if you DO use that software in your not-free software product, you have to disclose its use and provide evidence that either you are using that source code unaltered in your product or you provide your altered/derived source code back to the community.

For example, any “smart” device like a smart media device or a home wifi router that has a webpage where you configure it has a built in webserver. If I were to use the popular open source webserver Apache in my product, I would have to disclose that I am using it. I can’t just use the Apache webserver, slap my branding and logo on it and then charge lots of money for it.

A license is something that validates the software as legitimately purchased, and used for the purposes of the license.

There can be a lot of different licensing available. For instance, there might be educational licensing that is only available to educators or students PCs. A home license might state that the system cannot be used for for-profit endeavours. A license for Mac OS states that it can only be installed on approved Apple hardware.

There are two way licenses are validated. The first is at a software level. An OS without a license will limit features. In old versions of Windows, it would block access to Windows Update. Nowadays, they instead lock the desktop wallpaper and nag you to install a license (The bad press from constant viruses targeted to old OS’s that weren’t getting updates really sucked).

The software-based license check doesn’t actually check if you meet the terms of the license. That is done by audits. Large companies can be the subject of random audits to make sure they are in compliance with OS licenses, if the vendor feels there is a reason to believe they aren’t being honest with them.

when you “buy” software, you are actually buying the right to use that software. (be it a game or something like photoshop or your OS, like win10)

the license is a keycode that basically tells the software “yes, this person is allowed to use you on this computer”.