Java rolled out their last universally free update – (Critical Patch Update – 8u201, and the related 8u202 Patch Set Update) – in January 2019. Since then, many conflicting articles have come out saying Java still has free updates, or maybe only in certain situations, or probably not all for businesses, etc.
So is there still a free version of Java? In short, yes for individuals (at least through December 2020) and no for business licenses, with several sort-of free exceptions (explained below). Any updates from January forward are free for personal individual desktop use, and free for development, testing, prototyping and demonstration purposes. Businesses using Java either have to purchase licenses ($2.50/person) or look into one of the still free alternative options like Oracle OpenJDK, AdoptOpenJDK, Azul, IBM, Red Hat, Linux distros.
One other way to make Java “free” for business users is to simply keep using Java SE 8.0 without the updates. This might be tempting to do – it probably takes the least effort right now – but is HIGHLY recommended against. Software’s that are no longer supported by updates are notoriously vulnerable to hacking, and the longer you keep a legacy (not updated) Java version, the higher this very real risk climbs.
What should businesses using Java do moving forward?
The first thing any business that is using Java or thinks it could have users with Java installed should do is audit the use of the program internally. Organizations need to know in which of their environments they are using Java together with who is using it and the versions in use. Once you know this information, appropriate licenses can be added or Java can be removed from users who are not utilizing it.
The relatively low fee of $2.50/user/month is worth the regular six month updates and mitigating the risk of fines from Java if they audit your usage. Oracle has already announced they will start auditing businesses for license evasion and Java 12 is already out now with 13 coming soon etc. If manually going through each users computer and looking for the program sounds daunting, there are better, faster ways of inventorying Java usage.
Find an IT consultant familiar with Java (or give STA Technologies a call) and we can identify whether JDK or JRE is deployed on a machine; which commercial features are enabled; and the update versions installed so you can see which ones could require licensing immediately. An IT can also help you migrate to later versions of Java for use with your 3rd party sites and keep you updated going forward. Oracle, Microsoft and other large software providers are only speeding up in their efforts to replace and decommission software’s at break neck pace.