Java / Java licensing

Transition to Java Subscription Model

Transition to Java Subscription Model

  • Revenue Increase: Oracle aimed to boost revenue by adopting a subscription model.
  • Higher Costs: The cost of using Java increased for most customers.
  • Simplified Licensing: All users in an organization must be licensed, simplifying compliance.
  • Customer Impact: Considered unfriendly by 99% of customers due to increased costs.
  • Revenue Goals: Tied to Oracle’s broader financial performance objectives.

Introduction Transition to Java Subscription Model

Introduction Transition to Java Subscription Model

Oracle’s decision to transition Java licensing to a subscription model in 2019 was a significant shift that has had far-reaching implications for businesses relying on Java.

This transition, aimed at increasing Oracle’s revenue, has resulted in higher costs for most users and raised concerns about customer friendliness.

This article explores the reasons behind this transition and its impact on users.

Oracle’s Revenue Goals

Oracle's Revenue Goals

Increasing Revenue:

The primary reason behind Oracle’s move to a subscription model was to increase its revenue.

By shifting from a one-time perpetual license fee to a recurring subscription model, Oracle ensured a steady income stream.

  • Steady Revenue Stream: The subscription model provides Oracle with a predictable and recurring revenue stream, unlike the perpetual license model, which involves a one-time payment.
  • Higher Costs: Under the subscription model, Using Java has increased for most customers, contributing to Oracle’s overall revenue growth.

Tied to Revenue Goals:

Oracle’s transition to a subscription model is part of its broader revenue goals. The company aims to enhance its financial performance by leveraging its widely used software products.

  • Subscription Fees: By charging monthly or annual fees, Oracle ties its revenue more closely to its ongoing software use.
  • Financial Performance: This strategy aligns with Oracle’s goal of boosting its financial performance and providing value to its shareholders.

Simplified Licensing Process

Simplified Licensing Process

Ease of Licensing:

One aspect of the new model is the simplified licensing process. If an organization has even one user, it needs all users’ licenses.

  • Simplified Compliance: This model simplifies compliance for businesses, as they no longer need to track individual user licenses or processor counts.
  • Administrative Efficiency: While this approach simplifies administration, it often costs more because it requires licensing for all users, regardless of actual usage.

All-Inclusive Requirement:

Under the new model, any business using Java must license all its users, which will lead to higher overall costs.

  • Comprehensive Coverage: Every employee in an organization needs to be licensed, which can significantly increase the licensing fees for larger companies.
  • Cost Implications: For most businesses, this is not a customer-friendly move, resulting in substantially higher costs without a corresponding increase in value.

Impact on Customers

Impact on Customers

Customer Unfriendliness:

For 99% of customers, the transition to a subscription model has been anything but friendly. The higher costs and all-inclusive licensing requirements have made Java more expensive and less attractive.

  • Increased Financial Burden: Many organizations now face a higher financial burden due to the recurring subscription fees.
  • Negative Reception: Users have criticized the move, feeling that the benefits do not justify the increased costs.

Alternatives and Adaptations:

In response to these changes, many businesses have started exploring alternatives to Oracle JDK, such as OpenJDK, or have adapted their strategies to manage the higher costs.

  • Exploring Alternatives: OpenJDK and other JDK providers offer cost-effective options that do not require a subscription.
  • Strategic Adaptations: Organizations are reviewing and optimizing their Java usage to minimize the impact of the higher costs.


The goal of increasing revenue primarily drove Oracle’s transition to a subscription model for Java licensing in 2019.

While the new model simplifies licensing and provides a steady income stream for Oracle, it has resulted in higher costs for most users and is considered unfriendly to customers.

The all-inclusive requirement means that businesses must license all users, leading to significant cost increases. As a result, many organizations are exploring alternatives and adapting their strategies to manage the financial impact.

Understanding this transition’s reasons and implications can help businesses make informed decisions about their Java licensing and usage.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson brings two decades of Oracle license management experience, including a nine-year tenure at Oracle and 11 years in Oracle license consulting. His expertise extends across leading IT corporations like IBM, enriching his profile with a broad spectrum of software and cloud projects. Filipsson's proficiency encompasses IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Salesforce platforms, alongside significant involvement in Microsoft Copilot and AI initiatives, improving organizational efficiency.

    View all posts