The Cost of a C# License

Tuesday May 1st 2012 by Bradley Jones
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Do you have to pay to use a programming language? Google is getting sued for using Java. Can we use C# without paying?

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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