XE3 EULA: The Facts vs The Spin

I wasn’t going to say anything further on this as it has been pretty much covered in the forums and on other blogs, but when a duly annointed “MVP” suggests that I should publish a post explaining that the news about the proposed changes in the EULA were FUD, then it behoves me to put some stark, plain facts on the table.

The MVP’s seem – in the main – to be following the Embarcadero crib sheet on spinning these events.

The line being taken is variously one of either:

See, the new EULA isn’t what was rumoured. There wasn’t anything to worry about.

or:

It’s great that Embarcadero have listened to their customers and decided not to go ahead with the change.

But unfortunately neither of these is actually what happened.

The new EULA was not proposed or discussed. Technology Partners were notified of the change, after the fact. As others have observed, the EULA was already changed in the BETA distributions of Delphi. It is also quite clear from the wording in the leaked email about the EULA change that it was talking about something that – from the author’s point of view – had already happened. Not that I think it is necessary, but you only have to look at a handful of extracts of illustrative language from that email (my emphasis added):

..changes being made..

This restriction is [sic] for new licenses only

..will be “grandfathered”..

..Starter Edition has been restricted..

This is not the language of a consultative, discussion process. The email was informing Technology Partners of the impact on them that this change had, and quite bluntly too.

The author of that email, I should note, was an Embarcadero employee. The leaked email was not – as some have speculated – written by someone who was interpreting information.

If, even after this, there remains any doubt then we only have to look at the initial response from Embarcadero. As soon as the email was leaked people were, unsurprisingly, calling for that response and hoping for a denial.

This was their opportunity to retract in private, shielded by the NDA that the Technology Partners remained bound by, and present the change as something that had been considered but rejected. I even speculated that they might try this in my original post drawing attention to the email. But they didn’t.

Their initial responses – when they finally came – contained no form of denial that this change had happened and was going to appear in the released product, no denial at all; not in any way, shape or form. Instead they focussed on emphasising the “grandfathering” of upgraded license rights and – disingenuously and frankly inaccurately – insisting that “existing customers” would not be affected.

This latter response is particularly astounding since it is predicated on the ignorance of the fact that you cannot upgrade a Delphi license to XE3 from any version earlier than Delphi 2009. So despite what is said, a Delphi 1 license – or fot that matter a Delphi 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 2006 or 2007 – cannot be “grandfathered” as those licenses cannot be upgraded to XE3. Anyone on such an old license is required now to buy an entirely new license.

But crucially, if the license change had at this point already been rejected and wasn’t going to happen then nobody would be affected, never mind “existing customers”. So why didn’t they just say that ? (*)

If that’s still not enough, then there is explicit acknowledgement that the EULA was being updated, and that the changes being discussed were “this update”.

If that’s still not enough, there is further, explicit confirmation of the notion of “grandfathering”, something that is only relevant in the light of the EULA change.

No. The notion that this was only ever a proposed change and not one that was already enacted and would appear in the released product EULA is specious nonsense.

The fact that otherwise supposedly intelligent people cannot see, or refuse to see, this beggars belief. If on the other hand they see it but believe that other people will swallow the horse manure they are spinning on Embarcadero’s behalf is just downright insulting.

As for Embarcadero listening.

The Technology Partners were understandably up in arms. They protested this change vigorously – to no effect. This was in fact why the email was leaked in the first place – why else do people think that someone would go to the lengths of breaching an NDA ?

Just for the hell of it ?

If so, then stop and think for a moment about the relationship that the “partners” of Embarcadero must have if you are more willing to believe that NDA’s are broken vexatiously and frivolously, rather than only as a desperate, last resort.

No. The Technology Partners were getting nowhere with Embarcadero and at least one felt sufficiently strongly about it to leak the information.

And why should Embarcadero care about the Technology Partners views on this ? The impact of the license change was quite obviously detrimental to a significant number of those Technology Partners – Embarcadero didn’t need to be told this. They just didn’t care. If they did, they wouldn’t have made this EULA change in the first place (*).

And again, despite even the initial outcry from the wider community, Embarcadero continued with their intent to press ahead. Only when the protests reached fever pitch and people started actively and quite aggressively talking about finally making the switch from Delphi that they had – in some cases – been contemplating for some time, did Embarcadero finally back down.

* The “Incompetence Rather Than Malice” Dictum

There is a dictum – attributed to numerous people – that one should not attribute to malice, things which can be explained by incompetence.

This dictum generally holds quite well. The problem comes when it is applied to certain situations, where the notion that “incompetence” is somehow a more comfortable explanation than “malice” is dubious in the extreme. This becomes an especially difficult balance to strike when faced with a mounting pile of examples to take into account:

In each case, ask yourself if incompetence or malice is the most comfortable or likely explanation:

Then ask yourself: is this company – on balance – being nasty or just incompetent ?

And in either case: do I want to do business with, and perhaps build my business on a relationship with, a company that is either incompetent, nasty or some amalgam of both ?

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33 comments

  1. KV’s avatar

    Interesting article – Embarcadero are fooling nobody here.

    It also appears that many of the changes in FireMonkey in XE3 are undocumented in the help system / doc wiki. This is inexcusable moving into the second year of FireMonkey – and with Embarcadero failing to honour their promises of early and frequent updates to FireMonkey in year 1, I’m left wondering why I should part with any more cash right now.

    May have to make the time to learn more about GLScene and put it to work for data visualisation in Lazarus.

  2. KM’s avatar

    Did anyone noticed that among MVP there are no 3rd party developers, AFAIK? Lots of people making money from Delphi (books, training, selling Delphi itself…) but noone actually selling libraries/tools for Delphi. Pure chance? I understand people whose revenues depends squarely on Delphi feel the need to play down what happened, but IMHO they’re using the wrong approach, damaging their reputation together Embarcadero’s one. For what it matters, I will never pay a dime to people who think I couldn’t understand what happened really….
    And I wonder how many who are now defending Embarcadero behaviour are secretly happy someone else did what they weren’t bold enough to do and thanked heaven the EULA was reverted, and now happy they didn’t have to expose themselves… while they can play the good faithful boys…

  3. Frank’s avatar

    WTF! Another year gone by and STILL no report writer for OSX. Still comes bundled with FastReport4 that only supports win32/64.

    1. deksden’s avatar

      You wrong! FastReport recently released “commertial beta” of FastReport for FMX. I have one) ;-)

      1. Deltics’s avatar

        Is that included in XE3 ?

        There is no mention of FastReport FMX in the FastReport section of the XE3 feature matrix. Not even one of the all too few “Enhanced in XE3″ red bullets.

        Or is it something else that Delphi users are now expected to pay more for ?

        1. Bunny’s avatar

          FR for Mono and FMX exist.

      2. Frank’s avatar

        Please go back to sleep.

  4. Kyle Miller’s avatar

    Quite possible the leaked email was the draft of what was to go out, i.e. a beta of the final notice. The only real fact about all of this is that you have no substantial facts, just a leaked email about a beta EULA.

    Frank, http://www.fast-report.com/en/news/9556.html

    1. Deltics’s avatar

      It is stating the painfully obvious, but you simply don’t know what facts I am in possession of, you can only speculate on that. But I can assure you they are facts. But quite apart from the facts I am privy to, nothing of what I wrote in this article was speculation or guesswork, but all evidence based. All I did was do the legwork that anyone could do to assemble it in one post and do the analysis.

      This is what makes Embarcadero’s attempted spin so disgustingly offensive – that they think people are too stupid to see the facts for what they are and will swallow whatever crap they shovel out. Then again, in some cases it appears that people really are as stupid as Embarcadero seem to think. ;)

      For once and for all: The email was not leaked internally by someone at Embarcadero before it was sent out – the definition of “draft”. It was leaked by a technology partner who had received the email, along with all the other Technology Partners.

      Even setting aside that assurance, there is a huge body of evidence that proves that the email was leaked after the fact, and was genuine.

      If you think there is any evidence to the contrary, where is it ?

      1. Gavin Shank’s avatar

        If you had facts then lay them out on the table. The leg work was merely speculation that anyone could have engaged in. Swallow your pride big boy.

        1. Deltics’s avatar

          I cannot see how applying basic English Comprehension to actual responses from Embarcadero is speculation. Clearly you are one of those for whom the rose-tinted spectacle through which you view Embarcadero have become blinkers.

          A few people seem intent on trying to goad me into revealing my source[s]. That isn’t going to happen. But that doesn’t alter the facts, however uncomfortable they may be for some people.

  5. MK’s avatar

    OK, I read the message of Bob Swart.
    English is not my native language, so I looked into Wikipedia:
    “FUD is generally a strategic attempt to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information.”

    If I take this literally and his timing, then his message looks misleading. Days after the EULA improvement and many messages about this, Bob Swart urges his new interpretation (otherwise there would be no need for his post): The leaked EULA contained as he says “FUD (again)”, but he does not name the author (EMBT) of the leaked EULA.
    And he is not addressing your blog readers directly (which could be confronting (most are not silly)), but he tries to draw you in…

    1. Eric’s avatar

      The crux of the issue is that one top issue with EMBT has been the whole secretive nature of their plans and lack of open-ness. The “fix” to that EULA isn’t spinning, it’s open-ness and honesty, to try and restore trust.

      Sowing more distrust and spinning isn’t helping their case, but furthering the original issue, cf. the “problem with Delphi” post on that blog, which was written before this incident, and (not by random) became one of the most highly voted post in Delphifeeds.

      IMHO this would be an opportunity to address that communication issue and restore trust, but alas that seems it won’t happen.

      1. Fabricio’s avatar

        +100

  6. ojn’s avatar

    I read David I’s posts a bit with a different interpretation than you did. I understood him to say that “Grandfather” “Upgrade”. Take my case as an example. Many (many) years ago, I purchased Delphi 1 and the RAD Pack for Delphi. I liked Delphi but I never pursued it any further. I thought that under the disputed EULA that I would *not* qualify for an Delphi XE3 Pro upgrade , but would have to buy a new user license. However, owning my old copy of Delphi 1 meant that I would qualify under the new grandfather clause that was issued.

    So I do see this a bit differently than you do, but it’s all a moot point now that Embarcadero has removed the initial restriction on XE3 Pro. And after reading all of the complaints about Embarcadero here, on other blogs, and in their own forums, I’m taking a look at Lazarus now.

    Just a thought …

    Jerry

    1. Deltics’s avatar

      This is why David I’s responses were so unfuriatingly frustrating. What he was saying in the forums was not what was said in the email to Technology Partners, which specifically stated that “grandfathering” applied to licenses that were upgraded to XE3. Since a Delphi 1 license cannot be upgraded to XE3, the grandfathering wouldn’t apply.

      All the responses in the forums talked about “customers”, but the EULA change applied to “licenses”. This was a key point of difference that was raised very clearly and succinctly with David I in the forums and never addressed, just persistently deflected with repeated references to “customer” without even acknowledging the difference or explaining that the intention or wording of the EULA had changed to reflect this, hence you could never be sure whether his answers could be relied on or were a deliberate misunderstanding/ignoring of the difference being asked about.

      But yes, as you say – all moot now.

      I downloaded Lazarus myself yesterday for the first time in many years. The last time I looked at it I don’t think I even got it successfully running. But things have changed a LOT in the meantime.

      I have only had a chance for a quick look-see so far, but what I have seen has been eye-opening. I think you will be amazed. I shall be doing a “first impressions” write up tonight. :)

      1. ojn’s avatar

        Oops!

        I went back and re-read the original leaked email that you had posted and I see what you mean by the wording of “licenses” and “upgrading”. Now, David I can complain that the email was improperly worded and did not reflect the EULA that it discussed, but now there is no evidence either way. But again, it’s a moot point. We will never know the full truth, but that seems to be Embarcadero’s pattern of operation.

        Just in passing, if you are not impressed by the bundled LazReport report writer, there is a more powerful open source report writer called Fortes4Lazarus that can be downloaded and installed. See:

        http://www.lazarus.freepascal.org/index.php?topic=9768.0

        http://www.lazarus.freepascal.org/index.php/page,13.html

        The LazReport is a port to Lazarus of FreeReport, an open source report writer that is essentially v2 of Fast-Report. Fortes4Lazarus is a port to Lazarus of the Fortes open source report writer for Delphi that is “inspired” by QuickReport.

        (Note that in Lazarus 0.9.30.4, LazReport was bundled with Lazarus but not installed by default. It had to be added via the “Packages->Install/Uninstall Packages” menu selection. I haven’t yet upgraded to v1.0 yet to see if it is now installed by default.)

        I am happy to hear that your first impression of Lazarus 1.0 is positive and I look forward to reading your write-up about it.

        1. ojn’s avatar

          Oops again!

          I also meant to note that if you miss the current Delphi XE2/XE3/MS Visual Studio style interface (did that begin with Delphi 2007?), there is an open source add-on for Lazarus called KZ Desktop in beta that will enable that style of interface and let you switch back and forth between the Lazarus default (old Delphi) and the new Delphi IDE styles. See:

          http://www.lazarus.freepascal.org/index.php/topic,17959.msg101354.html#msg101354

          1. Deltics’s avatar

            Aha! Thanks for that – I was wondering. :)

          2. Arioch’s avatar

            At current work i don’t have large display, so i had to get myself second not so large one.

            And i find that “one window” approach is very limited not.

            On one large screen it is good thing, but on multi monitors “classic” split layout is better.

            1. Deltics’s avatar

              Yep – and by a startling coincidence I literally just wrote something along those lines in my write-up of my “first impressions” of Lazarus which I’ll be posting shortly. :)

  7. markus’s avatar

    +1

  8. ObjectMethodology.com’s avatar

    Well, the EULA has been reverted and we can move on to development tasks!

    1. Deltics’s avatar

      Yep – sadly I suspect that first up on many people’s list – myself included – will now be “investigate porting to some other platform”.

      Lazarus is impressive. ;)

  9. Marjan Venema’s avatar

    Thanks Jolyon for a comprehensive write-up of events.

  10. Eric’s avatar

    From JT latest blog post “confidential draft EULA”, “draft language”…

    Final XE3 EULA posted

    The XE3 EULA is now live. Despite a leak last week of a confidential draft EULA with some possible changes for New User licenses, the shipping XE3 EULA does not contain any of that draft language nor are there plans to introduce those changes.  The XE3 EULA can be found here: http://edn.embarcadero.com/article/42481

    1. Deltics’s avatar

      Yep – they really do think we’re stupid. They don’t even have the balls to say “sorry, we screwed up”. As with just about every balls-up that Embarcadero inflict on themselves (the one thing they do seem to be unfortunately very good at) how they are handling it just exacerbates the initial screw up.

      Embarcadero must have known that they had to re-build trust with the community after the EULA debacle. Continuing to lie to our faces achieves exactly the opposite of that.

      I guess they must think that with enough MVP’s gagged by their “do not criticise” orders, that they might just get away with it.

      Even more disappointing is that some of those MVP’s seem inclined not just to keep their counsel but to join in with the lies, making a mockery of the whole MVP program itself, completely undermining their credibility in to the bargain.

      The whole thing is desperately sad. :(

      1. LDS’s avatar

        JT put the last nail on the “remaining trust in Embarcader” coffin. It’s clear now that they will attempt whatever they can not to improve the product and make it appealing at its price (whatever the price is), they will try to milk as much money as they can without investing too much (and probably trying to save on development, looking for developers in cheaper countries). They really think we’re stupid, after all we have spent our money in Delphi till now, haven’t we?
        Moreover I will be very skeptical about MVPs actions from now on, it’s clear I can’t be sure if whatever they say is sincere or it is just Embacardero will. I do expect employees support company positions, but the trust you have in an indipendent writer or consultant is exactly his indipendency. They have traded it for some business advantages. That’s ok as long as they don’t try to pretend they didn’t, anyway I have to care about *my* business also, and look for reliable partners.

  11. David Brennan’s avatar

    Interesting. I would say Jolyon is correct, but I would also say that their carefully worded blog statement has gone out of its way to avoid lying and is quite correct in that “nor are there plans to introduce those changes”. What they don’t add is the word “anymore” ;-) .

    The original licence change was a bit irritating and counter to the direction I think they should be taking Delphi but I guess they are a business and they need to make money out of development tools (unlike Microsoft and Apple).

    I think there is some good news in that they have presumably realised that while on the surface their planned licence change would mean more income, in practice it was likely to lead to less income because of damage to their reputation and the community.

    I guess if you take the view that they should always have been aware of this then there is no silver lining, it is merely bad news that they ever considered it. However, in today’s short term bottom line focussed business environement I’ve seen much bigger companies do stupider things so I’m willing to merely be happy that common-sense prevailed!

    1. Eric’s avatar

      It was not communicated as a “draft”: it ended up being a “draft” because of the outcry happened on a leak…

    2. Deltics’s avatar

      Except that it wasn’t “common sense” it was political expediency. And it was just the latest in a list of moves by Embarcadero to extract as much money as possible from existing users by trying to force money out of them, rather than enticing it. :(

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