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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?