The Cost of a C# License


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Today an interesting question came into Developer.com. The question was (their words not mine):

"I just want to know if you know how much a C# license is?"

With the coverage of Google and Oracle’s battling in the courts about Java licensing, and with the possibility that Google might have to pay Oracle for the use of Java, it is no surprise that this question about C# is now coming up. If you are following the news coverage, then you know that Oracle is going after Google in regard to licensing Java for Android. It will be interesting to see how that court case is resolved because if Google loses, it could have an impact on Android.

The question of a C# license; however, highlights one major difference between C# and Java that many people tend to overlook. In fact, many open source proponents tend to avoid discussing this topic. Simply put:

Java is a proprietary development language and C# is not.

While Java is generally managed by a review board, at the end of the day, it is Oracle that gets to decide what does or does not happen to the language. With C#, while Microsoft is generally stating what goes into the language, it is actually an independent committee that gets to decide what does or does not happen. While you can make arguments for which is better, at the end of the days, both have their pros and cons. The one pro for C# is that like C and C++, nobody really “owns” C#, and therefore nobody can really start asking you to pay for a licensing fee. The same cannot be said about Java.

So how much is a C# license? As of right now, it seems that there is no cost. How much is Java? You’ll need to ask Oracle, although Google might soon know the answer!

* * *

Of course, when it comes to talking about licenses and fees, we start delving into the area where lawyers make money. As such, the above is what I know at this time. If you are looking for legal protection on using any technology, you should always consult your legal counsel. My comments are not meant to be, and are in no way legal advice. (How’s that for a disclaimer!)

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  • t

    Posted by Nicole Lee on 10/18/2012 01:56am

    Nice post, the best. Great help to me, thank you.

  • software developer

    Posted by George on 05/06/2012 09:18am

    It would be nice if you could prove that - I am a .NET programmer using C# in the last 7 years, but I also know that the Java itself, and most of the Java platform are under a GPL-license, so anyone if he wants can produce an alternative implementation if out of the blue Oracle decides to ask money for the license. The same is the situation for C# and .NET - even if the language itself and parts of the runtime are standardize by ISO, the actual implementation is covered by a non-free Microsoft license, which might change in future versions if MS decides so..

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