Embarcadero’s indefensible licensing change

If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a very disturbing post by Jolyon Smith about a leaked NDA document covering a licensing change in Delphi XE3. The upshot is that new licensees will no longer be able to use Delphi Professional for database development unless it’s a local database only, even if they use a third-party library.

And it gets worse.  This issue is exploding on the Delphi forum, and partway down there’s a post from David Intersimone, in his usual damage-control/spin control style, stating that:

All Delphi customers up to and including XE2 are covered – even if you upgrade to XE3. The EULA only affects new customers from XE3 and forward.

In other words, this isn’t just a fake document cooked up to rile people up; we now have official confirmation from an official Embarcadero spokesman that it’s true–but don’t you worry your pretty little head, it doesn’t affect *you* if you’re already using Delphi.  It’s just for new users.

There are three serious problems with this, if it’s true:

  1. It may not even be legal.  Placing that kind of restriction on the use of your product will never hold up in a European court, and it’s kind of questionable whether it would be found valid in the US either.
  2. It will greatly decrease the value of Delphi, both as a programming language and as a money-making product for Embarcadero.  This will drive away third-party vendors, it will make new users less likely to adopt Delphi, and these two factors will make existing users less likely to use Delphi in the future, or purchase upgrades.  This single malicious decision (seriously, how else to describe it?) will do more harm to the product than Borland’s years of ineptitude ever did.
  3. Embarcadero doesn’t seem to realize any of this.  David I’s response shows just how out of touch the company line is on this.  (And if what he’s saying is not the official company line, then they’ve got even bigger problems here.)

The saddest part is, Delphi is still an amazing language.  It’s far and away the best tool for what it does, easily better than C++ or Java.  I had a lot of hope when Delphi got handed off to Embarcadero that they would turn things around, and for a while it looked like they were.  Delphi 2009, 2010 and XE were all excellent releases.  But for the past year or so, things have been really going downhill.  I’m not privy to any internal news about what’s going on inside Embarcadero, but their actions speak of desperation.  I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t time for them to hand off the baton to someone else, as they’ve clearly lost control…

If Embarcadero chooses not to renounce this policy, the only thing we can do is to refuse to support it.  Don’t buy XE3.  Don’t renew your SA, if you have it, and make it clear to your representative why you’re choosing not to.

And remember that changes like this don’t come out of nowhere; they had to have been planned and discussed for a while now.  If you recently renewed your SA, you have every reason to consider that the offer of renewal was made under false pretenses and in bad faith, by neglecting to inform you of changes that will severely decrease the value of the product.  Call your Embarcadero representative and ask to cancel the renewal for a refund, and don’t take no for an answer.  If the offer of renewal was extended in bad faith, any “no refunds” policy is no good.  (I am not a lawyer, and this should not be interpreted as legal advice, just as common sense.  Unfortunately, in today’s world it’s often necessary to talk to a lawyer before taking action based on common sense.)

I’d like to call on Embarcadero to quit screwing around.  It’s not the 1990s anymore, and the company needs to stop behaving as if it were.  We, the customers, the developers who have been building stuff with Delphi and Turbo Pascal before it for decades now, still love the language.  We just want to be able to use it without all the baggage.  Who’s with me?


  1. Shane says:

    Not sure why anyone would have purchased anything from Embarcadero……there licensing schemes are out of hand, and always have been. We still use Delp 7 for legacy code and Delphi 2010 for all new development. Doubt we would ever purchase another product from them. We stopped purchasing Interbase along time ago!

  2. Ross says:

    I know people are up in arms over this, but does anyone know the cost difference between Pro, and Pro + Client/Server add-on or Enterprise?

    I’m part way through BDS 2006 to XE2 migration, we have over fifty Delphi developers, they don’t really care what they use TBH but if the cost difference is say 500 GB clams that amounts to over 25K. That amount would be better spent fixing the development costs.

    If we could buy D7 licenses then maybe a step back would work, let’s face it how many people REALLY use the language or IDE enhancements to the point they couldn’t do without them or couldn’t rewrite them themselves?

  3. vicente says:

    I am sure of this: with this rules i do not play. I am thinking to change to another tools without restrictions of this type.
    ¿ someone knows the new politic of embarcadero ? Probably, it will be a very big surprise. well, i am not sure but this type of surprises are no goods.

    I think that delphi xe3 is not for me, and for no one.

  4. SquelchQuelch says:

    Yet another company who doesn’t understand the concept of volume selling. They’re not making enough money on their product so they raise the price or remove functionality from cheaper versions. If they had a lick of business sense they’d lower the price of all their versions providing incentives to developers to buy their own personal copies of the product. I’ve never been able to afford my own copy of Delphi.
    C’mon Embarcedero, pay attention. You’re doing the same stupid things Borland did for years.

  5. C Johnson says:

    Don’t forget, this clause is also completely unenforcable. They have no way of knowing if a product was developed with a valid grandfather’s license or not.

    Forget if the clause is legal (what judge would decide you need a license for a hammer to drive nails larger than 2″? Same concept.), how could they ever know they need to enforce it? No this is just shooting themselves in the foot level stupid.

    It may not stop SAs from renewing, but anyone considering Delphi as a new purchase will simply pass it over for a product with saner licensing issues, thus reducing their own new customer base. Not since Del’s days have we seen something quite this…. Interprise-y.

  6. I support myself and my family providing 3rd party client/server database connectivity tools. I wish they would not have made this policy decision, but I love Delphi enough that I’m willing to live with it. I remember thinking that open sourcing InterBase was a bad idea, but it turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened for my product’s customer base. Firebird SQL is what has enabled me to continue and be successful. So, if this “mistake” is anything like their last one, it will become a good thing in the end, for all of us.

  7. Eric says:

    Whether it’s legal or enforceable is irrelevant.

    Who will take the risk of a trial? Who will take the risk of further EULA tinkering and feature removal?
    Is Delphi such a market leader that new developers will consider taking those risks?

    R.I.P. Delphi, it was nice knowing you.
    May you be breathed new Oxygene life or walk again as Lazarus, because that embarcadero looks to be the end of your road!

    Over-reacting? Maybe, maybe not…

  8. Michael Thuma says:

    Let’s have a look first. There has always been a wish for a plain but naked Delphi. There has always been a wish for buying the database drivers as an add-on and having the opportunity to get to know the data-snap. Maybe this will affect pricing. We don’t know such things now. So the death of Delphi is not engraved in stone. On one hand people want to have good stuff from EMB on the other EMB is competing third-parties the moment they ship something that works satisfactorily to the majority’s needs.

    My idea is another one. Why not have the opportunity to purchase Delphi and maybe in a special offering get the DB drivers for free (discounted), kind of BOGO instead of having to purchase another tool. Imo Enterprise but working well should be affordable, but maybe priced little lower. The moment you have SA you are off very good. The Enterprise introductory price is ‘shocking’. SA also RAD Studio SA is not this high.

    Tend to agree that in Europe … According to European law Delphi would have to be fixed and patched for 2 years from the day of your purchase. Does mean 3 years assuming you buy the last day … maybe EMB simply leave the door open.

    We have RAD Studio. With RAD Studio you have Delphi + Mobile the managed way and for all specialists who want to have a special version of the FM2 (mobile) plus many interesting things too the Mobile Studio as Add-On.

    Why not have a DB add-on package + DBX and Datasnap for review + … + … We don’t know.

    I know it’s hard to argue, because of ADO.net … I know. Maybe if we all take the Enterprise it’s easier for them, maybe more people will find new requirements. You will maybe know it better, but I have the impression there is a huge number of Enterprise customers out anyway. Delphi is not a tool for the little poor mouse. It has never been and will never become. Maybe Prof. + thid-parties + some open source stuff left this impression.

  9. Marjan Venema says:

    Oh I think they do realize they may be driving some of us off. This EULA change just confirms what I have suspected for a long time now: they see their main market as developers/shops doing enterprise database application development. Any (serious) third party developer would be more than happy to pay for enterprise and/or would be a technology partner with access to all versions of Delphi anyway. The rest of us are… well… irrelevant…

    • Michael Thuma says:

      We are the beta testers at the moment. This is true.

      Yes, you will only benefit from ‘Delphi’ if you address the same customers EMBs product line addresses. At the times of ‘Borland’ there has been an almost perfect match because of the growing opportunities on Windows desktop. Today with all these different ways and out of the box offerings on different technologies, EMB I think, does address a special but still fragmented share of customers willing to spend money for tools. This is not the Freelancer in every case, not the one who already develops .net but there are people in this world that, assuming things work one day, maybe benefit another way.

      But Delphi is not something what the PhpED is to the PHP world, that’s true. One impression I have, they focus heavily on the IDE which is a good strategy for DB tools but it took a while until they understood that a complete overall offering concerning the content is welcome too. You don’t get such things for free. If you think EMB aims at Fortune 500/2000 and governments, huge corporates especially those with existing development – this I would sign immediately, my impression but Borland was not different. On the other hand just selling tools, not enough – You must provide more – complete offerings. I know tool companies that offer complete tracing and monitoring solution for finance business.

  10. Michael Thuma says:

    In general I think the RAD Studio Enterprise should include the Add-Ons too. I fully understand that EMB cannot move like Microsoft for example. There must be a compromise between an offering of technical excellence and ambiguous goals vs. economic reality. There are things the world does need and being in the position to stay outside Microsoft’s moves and somehow stay protected from those does add value. I have been impressed too by an enormous positive evolution in the area of .net since 2008/09 but there was a long time before and other times will come too.

    You will maybe see it little different but there are people in this world outside the U.S. that don’t share the same enthusiasm about M.S. The U.S. do of course and you can be very proud of having a home brew OS and such a great offering. There are other parts of the world that do not share this enthusiasm and are not inspired by XXXstyle today and YYYstyle tomorrow.

    For me it is more the question of the approach. If the whole native coding approach would turn into a no way for no one … then we reach a point, but we are not there. If you have lots of VC you can give away lots of things for free, if you have a huge offering and charge the whole value chain from customer, partners to developer you can make products cheaper. Recalculate the whole value chain in an MS environment. It is easy to offer free tools and cheap team offerings this way.

    I also don’t get exactly this point with the limitation, because a good offering for new customers concerning DB access + datasnap can convince in the trial version too. EMB is here for those who use Delphi and not those who use anything else…

  11. Leonardo Herrera says:

    Oh my. I’m speechless.

    Are they proactively pushing people away? Do they think companies will buy their tools if their developers don’t give a damn about them? One of the main reasons Microsoft tools are so popular is because developers have access to them, for free. When they move on the corporate ladder they keep promoting them. Is this so difficult to understand?

    I feel so bad about this. My small one-man shop is based on Delphi XE and AnyDAC. I know my license covers me, but for how long? What security do I have they will not screw me over?

  12. developer says:

    Fools still using Delphi in 2012 are evventually going to pay for it.

    Get on, develop yourself! This is a chance to climb the ladder.

    Use Java, C#, RoR, PHP, Python, PHP, node.js, backbone-js.

    Whatever language you use, use a decent well-known, ideally open-source framework, and you know you will not be let down in some years.

    And be aware that learning a new language is not difficult. It’s the frameworks which are difficult. See VCL->FM. All your old code is for the bin, even it’s “Delphi”.

    • pietro says:

      People use Delphi because it makes native code.

      Which of those can do that?

      • Joseph says:

        Most things don’t need native code anymore. Take python – write the app in python, the profile. Find the one or two bottlenecks and then you Cython – it’s essentially python but with the ability to make static variables. Cython then converts this to C++, compiles it and then wraps it in a python wrapper which you call from the python program. You never need to use or even know how to program C++ but you get the benefit of native code for the CPU-intensive parts that need it – if any. Most desktop programs nowadays really don’t, and python math libraries like numpy already use C++ for number-crunching. There are even libraries that allow you to pass a mathematical expression that gets dynamically compiled and then executed! There’s pypy for JIT compilation, etc. I’m sure there’s even more fascinating tricks for Java.

        This isn’t the 1990s and 400MHz machines anymore. I use a machine learning suite in Java and the performance is fine (and multi-threaded, another factor of today’s systems that makes non-native performance not noticeable). People use Delphi because… they’ve always used Delphi. They don’t want to change, they don’t want to port legacy code, they don’t want to start again at the bottom of the ladder and give up their expert status. It’s inertia.

        But if one does decide to explore the modern world and the amazingly powerful, dynamic languages it contains, it will be eye-opening. Imagine languages that aren’t controlled by proprietary, secretive companies with NDAs and massive EULAs! Imagine the *users* being in charge of the language! Python users submit PEPs (Python Enhancement Proposals) and users vote on them. And of course the code is open so you can always make your own changes. Imagine a world in which you can go into the book store and actually find books about your language on the shelves! (No mainstream publishers have published a Delphi book since 2005 and the only ones available today are self-published print-on-demand/ebooks). Imagine magazines on the stands about your language! Imagine libraries coming with wrappers/interfaces for your code! Imagine having products like Crystal Reports actually support your language again! Heck, PostgreSQL allows writing database triggers and stored procedures in about 17 different languages – none of those is Pascal, but it does offer Java, javascript, python, Tcl, perl, ruby, R, lua, even OpenCL! Imagine being able to find free online courses from MIT Courseware, Coursera, etc. about your language. Imagine being able to find completely free BOOKS about your language online, along with free support, IDEs, etc. Imagine languages with thousands of open source libraries (Python currently has over 26000 available!) Imagine using a modern language with a real web framework like Rails, Plone, ASP.Net, etc. used by major websites. Imagine content management systems written in your language. Imagine lots of conferences and conventions for your language all over the world (in addition to Pycon, Python has a conference just for those doing data analysis in Python because it’s big in financial/trading firms, a conference – Scipy? – dedicated to scientific uses, etc.). Imagine being able to get development tools, IDE, libraries, etc. for free rather than paying $150 for a crippled version and $1000K+ for the entry level full product!

        In short, it’s a whole other world out there for those who are using modern, mainstream languages. You don’t have to be jerked around by the Embarcadero bullies any more. You don’t have to talk to Nick Hodges ever again. You don’t have to listen to David I. act like Bagdhad Bob. You can be free (in both the “freedom” and “beer” sense) and have fun. Oh, and you can also be fully cross-platform and not have to wait years for things like 64-bit, mobile development, functional programming features, etc. Come join us! You won’t regret it. This is where all the exciting stuff is happening.

  13. Daniel Luyo says:

    There are a couple of things that I don’y understand:
    1. Why current Delphi users are complaining if they are not affected?
    2. Why do you think people who ARE NOT delphi users and will plan to buy Delphi in the future will complain? At the moment they will buy the only thing that they will know are the current licensing policy and price list, not the policies/prices from last year…

    If you buy a 2012 BMW will you complain if its more expensive than the 2010 model, or if there is not cassete player like in your previous 1980 model?

    By the way, I don’t like the new policies, and I don’t work for EMB
    And of course EMB has better ways to improve their visibility to the market than these changes


    • Mason Wheeler says:

      > 1. Why current Delphi users are complaining if they are not affected?

      Because we *are* affected, just not directly. This will cause less people to want to use Delphi, which damages the community that we are part of. It also threatens our future employability prospects by pushing Delphi towards irrelevance.

      Anyone who thinks that *any* Delphi developer is not affected by this needs to learn to think beyond a single degree of cause and effect.

    • In addition to what Mason said, this also effectively increases the cost of every third-party database access library. That is going to affect their sales which is going to make them more likely to not support Delphi in the future. There are few enough third-party component vendors already without Embarcadero actively driving them away.

  14. IL says:

    Reducing Delphi Pro feature is bad for many reasons. Personally I’ve hoped that someday EMBT will bundle Datasnap with Pro. Why is Datasnap considered to be an Enterprise only feature? Writing clients for REST/SOAP/Datasnap APIs, for example. At least they should sweet the deal for C/S Pack including Datasnap in it. I know, there is Enterprise Ed. pack which consists of C/S Pack + Datasnap + FinalBuilder Emb.Ed. If Datasnap is a client-server technology itself, why not bundle it with C/S pack?
    Yep, Mason, I’m with you, going to skip XE3.

  15. Warren Postma says:

    Any further restriction or EULA clauses in the Pro product would seriously hurt sales. PLEASE don’t do this to yourself, Embarcadero! The Delphi community needs new users, and not reasons to stay away.

    Really really not good. Let’s hope that there’s an about face at Embarcadero on this point before RTM.


  16. IL says:

    Btw, $399 for just database drivers in C/S Pack is ridiculous! They are already created. Do they really updated so much and deserve such huge price?
    The C/S Pack price was even higher ($499) until July http://edn.embarcadero.com/article/42365 and usual marketing: special upgrade and limited time offer.

  17. Dave H says:

    Glad I made the transition to Lazarus …

  18. James Nelson says:

    Well Ms vs express versions give me access to any DB local or server… And free. Pro version of Vs less than £500… Delphi is starting to look a bit shit. I am saddened having used it since version 3.

  19. Andre says:

    I also agree that Embarcadero is killing Delphi. You can see from all World Tour photos that Delphi only have old programmers, there are “no” (or just few) new programmers learning Delphi and with all the changes, all actual Delphi programmers will either keep their old Delphi version and/or start changing to another language.
    It’s amazing how Embarcadero is only looking at $$$.
    First I don’t see any reason to buy XE3. Metro skin and components I can find better ones using the DevExpress skins and Tile component. If I would be that interested in LiveBindings Editor, I would have used the OpenWire Live Bindings from Mitov (http://mitov.com/products/openwirelivebindings#overview). What else? 3D stuff you can do much better stuff using GLScene (FREE) and I bet that FireMonkey is still unusable for commercial applications. If you want to develop for iOS, then you will have to buy Mobile Studio. If you want the Premium Skins, you will have to pay extra, … XE3 will be a flop
    I can only imagine that Embarcadero is planning to drop the Delphi prices a LOT. If not, then the only people using XE3 will be component vendors and the MVP guys (in case they get the new version for free).

  20. Ron Grove says:

    Not sure why anyone would think we aren’t all negatively affected by this. Who exactly is going to adopt Delphi in the future? If the user base isn’t growing, it’s going to shrink. Seriously, what is going to draw new users into the Delphi arena now. The ownership arbitrarily strips the product of functionality (mobile and remote database access) in new versions and plays the “grandfather” card. Who can possibly trust them now? I’m completely awestruck at this.

  21. Django Dunn says:

    It’s interesting that David I doesn’t go into any detail on why they made the change. We’re only seeing the outcome, not the discussion.

    On the flip side – someone has an opportunity to buy up the Delphi 1 stock on eBay and re-sell it as XE3 insurance…

  22. DHR NY says:

    View our correspondents’ responses:

    Database Corruption kills Delphi:

    What are we paying for? Corruption?

    This latest EULA change is insane. They are desperate for cash and thinking of all possible ways to milk the Delphi cash$ cow.

  23. C Johnson says:

    True, existing SA customers are not currently affected by this, but if Embarcadero continues down this path, it will only be a matter of time before we have to buy a pile of licenses to develop other types of apps.

    What legacy bit are they going to break off into a seperate license next? No one knows, but since they’ve already been THIS stupid, who wants to find out the hard way?

  24. Monteiro says:

    I was very happy when reading this blog post

    Especially the part:
    > Will do more harm to the product than Borland’s years of ineptitude ever did.

    I made a post about this, a few years ago. This one:
    http://www.m104.com.br/morte-do-delphi-ou-delphi-zumbi/ (in Portuguese!), this post might be a retrospective of the ineptitude.

  25. markus says:

    – Why don’t they put FireMonkey to the Enterprise version. It’s a new feature and doesn’t affect existing customers?
    – Why don’t they have enough money earned from Delphi? They told us the sale was increased by 2 digites percentage, the last years.
    It’s in all big company the same problem. They have unexperianced managers, who makes wrong decissions or just say “yes” in order to hide their own inability. CEOs wake up, or are you the same sort of manageres?

    • Inside Embarcadero says:


      They just told you the partial story, the sales increased 2 digits compared with the previous year, where the sales was HORRIBLE.

      Their overall sales is not growing, instead they are selling less every year. Their database tools is almost dead, the AppWave total sales it’s under 100k, Delphi is the big revenue and in decline.

      The Embarcadero CEO is horrible, the VP of product is horrible, the PM Director is horrible, the VP of R&D is horrible, the Marketing VP is horrible, ….

      • markus says:

        Why don’t they drop these “shopkeepers” and concentrate all their money and manpower to the successful products like Delphi and make them to the best tools ever?
        Delphi has so much pontential, but they don’t use it. They should “use” the very experianced and long term developer community, to bring it on the top again.
        It seems that these “managers” are fearing that the community reveals there own inability and consequently fearing to loose there high paid job.
        — That was my experiance in the past with the company I worked for.

      • Fabricio says:

        ‘Their database tools is almost dead’
        That’s SAD. I use Delphi and ER/Studio Database Architect. And being used to ERWin, I loved ER/Studio since it generates diagrams with good readability and it’s change scripts way clear than ERWin…

  26. Didier says:

    Here is my contribution to the debate:

    function TellMeFuture: THope;
    This function “TellMeFuture” returns a THope object relative to Delphi roadmap and policie
    It has been written in Greece…
    If (DELPHI is becoming COBOL) then

  27. markus says:

    Dear DevExpress Team,

    it was the right decision not to jump on the FMX train. Maybe you think about transfering your VCL products to Lazarus, instead!? 😉

    • Alexander Elagin says:

      +1000. The only reason why I have not yet completely migrated my projects to Lazarus is the superb DevExpress suite. Once they are available for Lazarus, I’m done with Delphi.

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