In recent discussions about the merits (and/or otherwise) of a free/cheap/cheaper edition of Delphi, it was suggested that the Turbo editions were either a run-away and disastrous success that stole sales from Delphi or that they were a complete flop, leading to the conclusion that there was no demand for an entry level edition of Delphi.

Myself, I’m fairly certain that they were a flop, since I don’t know a single person who actively uses the Turbo editions of Delphi.

At all.

But I am a sample size of only one, which is not exactly scientific, so I thought that a survey of visitors to my blog might give a more indicative view.

Now, I won’t try to pretend that any sample of visitors to my blog is in any way definitively scientific.  I will say however that if you check out my global visitor stats you will see that my blog definitely has a readership that is spread quite diversely over this bejewelled orb we call “Earth”, and sufficiently controversial topics seem to generate significant volumes of hits from those people.

In any event, a sample of any size greater than that offered by my own experience will help me perhaps qualify my own opinion.

So please, vote in the survey that I’m currently running (see the Poll in the left side-bar).

You can choose up to three answers so that you can indicate your personal knowledge of users of both the free Explorer and the cheaper-than-Studio but not free Professional editions of the Turbo products but can also indicate if you know of people who upgraded from any Turbo to a full Delphi or Studio Professional license.

If you know of absolutely no-one using either Turbo Explorer or Turbo Professional (or everyone you know of subsequently upgraded) then of course you need only use ONE of your votes.  You don’t have to use three votes just because you have them.

Please limit yourself to personal knowledge – if your best friends sister mentioned that her cousin’s next door neighbours insurance broker is using a Turbo, only include that if you’ve spoken to the insurance broker yourself and are sure of the fact.

Equally only count (as users) people who are (or who were) actively using a Turbo.

24 thoughts on “The Turbo’s… Success or Failure?

  1. My vote matched your experience Jolyon – but then the small Delphi community that I knew has dispersed in to project management, SAP, VS etc…

    I just hope someone at Embarcadero is paying attention to all the navel gazing that the community is doing, even during their Delphi 2010 launch period. I it speaks volumes for the feeling generated by the latest release – “nice appetizer but wheres the main course?”.

    Regardless of any Community / Turbo edition , they’re going to have to produce something pretty noteable with D2011 AND D2012 in order to alter a lot of perceptions currently out in the ether.

  2. If there was a free edition of Delphi that can compile executables that can run without any license fee even in commercial environments in big companies (like VS C# Express), then you have a little Joe that can quickly build many small useful applications for his boss and impress him from time to time. Then when boss asks Joe to build one bigger application, Joe has a lot of arguments to say “Yes, we can build it with C#, but if you buy me Delphi Pro/Architect I can provide that application twice as fast”. Unfortunately, little Joe can just dream about this…

  3. I think they missed their window a long time ago to be anything but a highly niche product with an ever shrinking customer base. One can hope they jump ahead of the curve and start supporting platforms that are becoming mainstream which could use a product like Delphi. Mac and Android jump to mind amongst others.

  4. I played around a little with Explorer but essentially treating it as an extended trial. At that time we were still on Delphi 7 (actually we purchased 8 but only because it had 7 in the box). Nevertheless I was impressed enough so that we went on to purchase Turbo Pro because it was essentially Delphi 2006 Pro. We then later upgraded to Studio 2007 (can’t quite remember why as we never needed the .NET or C++ part) and later on to Delphi 2009.

    Apart from that I don’t know anyone personally who used (save still uses) the Turbos. So I checked “both 2-5 using Turbo Pro” and “upgraded to Delphi or Studio”. Not entirely sure if that’s how you intended it…

    The DelphiPraxis forum ( – the largest German Delphi community site) always displays the currently used Delphi version next to the user names and I remember that back then there were quite a couple of people shown as using the Turbos, though…

  5. I think a free and/or cheap version of Delphi is important to help lower the barrier to entry and expand market share, so I’m predisposed to liking (the idea of) the Turbos.

    That said, I think the re-launch of the Turbo brand was a failure snatched from the jaws of success. The launch was great, but the lack of follow-up and the subsequent killing were classic Kylix. If the same people were involved in execution (more so than the planning) of both campaigns, then I have a downsizing suggestion. Seriously, what the hell?

    It was a free edition with a substantial feature set (identical to the Pro SKU), sane licensing and few restrictions that launched with a lot of fanfare. I personally put it into the hands of several people.

    For anyone who didn’t like the restrictions, the follow-up release of Turbo Pro was also a good idea. Someone else can judge if the pricing was reasonable enough.

    And then it all fell off the face of the Earth. The downloads were even quietly removed from the web site.

    I buy the argument that Turbo Explorer had too many features and was cutting in to sales of the Professional SKU, but this could have been fixed with feature tweaking instead of abandoning the product. I hope any future release of an Explorer version won’t be reactionary and so free of features as to be useless. How will that benefit anyone?

    I also found it frustrating that people using the free SKU complained that it had any limitations at all and even thought it should have features beyond what was in the Professional SKU. You aren’t going to please everyone, and I don’t have much sympathy for this argument.

    CodeGear and Embarcadero aren’t Borland. So far, I’m really (really really) happy with what they’re doing with Delphi. Their priorities seem to be much closer to mine. If they launch another free/cheap SKU, I hope it includes a sane and consistent execution. They have some trust to earn back, and words alone won’t cut it.

    1. @Bruce: I think the problem with the limitations of the free Turbo Explorer were that the limitations simply did not make sense and rendered the product ineffective as anything other than a “perpetual trial” edition. They didn’t make sense in that here was a product supposedly offered free and with restriction (in terms of what it may be used for), yet if I obtained some 3rd party component library I was unable to install it into the IDE even if that library was itself free and even if I had the source and compiled it USING the Explorer IDE itself.

  6. IMO, the 2006 Turbo was both too good and too bad – too good, because its feature set was overly rich, headline limitation accepting, and too bad, partly because this richness made it too confusing for a newbe, partly because D2006 itself was crap even on its own terms (loads of IDE bugs + general slowness + dependence on an old .Net SDK), and partly because Turbo Delphi was almost immediately out of date due to Vista. For sure, an experienced Delphi programmer could fix the VCL’s Vista issues easily enough, especially with those web articles at hand, but for a newbe (or even a person who hadn’t used Delphi for a long time), the Turbo’s out-of-dateness was immediately apparent. So, all in all, Turbo Delphi wasn’t a very good advert for Delphi in my view. Hell, I’d add another thing – the marketing didn’t help either, both in terms of the ‘making programming simple’ tag line (see above) and the whole retro thing. I mean, people just starting programming today may not even have been alive in the 1980s!

  7. Same here. My father used the Explorer Edition for a bit, but he prefers VB.NET Express. Never mind the fact that he’s got more than a decade’s worth of Delphi experience a phone call away. :cough: 🙂 Then again, it’s easier for him to find VB examples online than it is for him to call me at 2 a.m. when he gets stuck.

  8. One thing I notice about your poll is that it’s written in the present tense, while Turbo Delphi was released… 3 years ago, was it? Not too many people are using it now, but that’s not the way it always was. Should we take that into account when answering the poll?

  9. I replied in haste that I know none. But then I noticed that you also count Turbo Pro users. We purchased a couple of Turbo Delphi 2006 Pro licenses – it was way cheaper than buy the complete Studio, when you only needed Delphi. Nowadays, you can buy Delphi alone, if you wish.

    I am afraid that the world is no longer the same that it used to be in ’90s so what made great success then, cannot succeed any more.

    1. @Jouni: Yes you can buy the single personality Delphi on it’s own now. However, (a new license for) Turbo Delphi Professional cost HALF the price of Delphi Professional.

      Turbo Delphi Professional was, in essence, the Delphi “Standard Edition” that we need. Except that it had *everything* that the current Delphi Professional has, which I think is unnecessary.

  10. I personally don’t use Turbo edition, but googling some components I saw comments like “this was written with Turbo Delphi” or “it runs also in Turbo Delphi”.
    You have to realize that the world is not only 1 world, you have the 1st world of wealthy people and the 3rd world with poor people (and companies). As you know a programmer in a 3rd world earn between USD$300 (or less) to USD$1000 a month, and many good Delphi programmers also live in those parts of the world. So for people in the first world buying a hobby for 300 bucks may not be a big deal. In the 3rd world you would have to sacrifice your babys milk to feed your hobby.

  11. A final comment, those great Delphi developers in the 3rd world are not using Turbo Delphi, they are using the cheaper and full feature Pirate Delphi.
    So yes, I think the democratization of Delphi could lead for far more revenues in the long term.

  12. And BTW, you have to take a look to world development context.
    More and more, programming are done not in countries like US but on India or China or South America or East Europe, so Embarcadero have to realize where the MARKET is. They already know that US is not their biggest market, are they current with their real market reallity????

  13. You see, having a free version of delphi released now, that has all the functionality of TurboDelphi Explorer (the one that doesn’t let you install third party components) would actually fare differently than Turbo with its “BDS 2006” era buggy codebase.

    I think a new turbo could be very successful if it was effectively promoted for use in schools, especially in Eastern Europe, Germany, and Russia where a commercial use of Delphi is larger than it is in North America and most of Europe. Delphi hotspots are Eastern Europe, Germany, Russia, and so on.

    Creating hobbyist interest, and incubating future professional Delphi users is key to growing the Delphi product’s user base and keeping Delphi alive.

    Embarcadero knows this and I expect to hear something from them in the next six months, at last as a roadmap comment, if not an announcement.

    There have been hints that an announcement and planning of some kind of initiative to court the hobbyist or fledgeling market is under way.

    Maybe they could just do a binary-strip-down of Delphi 2010 Update 1, remove the database component package BPL, and the VCL and RTL sources, and ship that as the personal edition, which ships at least 9 months after Delphi 2010 ships.

    Then when Delphi 2011 comes out, delay Delphi 2011 Personal release 9 months.

    I’ve got it. I’m brilliant. Someone pay me some money.


  14. @mason: Yes it is written in the present tense, primarily because one argument is that the Turbo’s stole license sales from non-Turbo’s. For that to be true, anyone who started using a Turbo must still be using it, since the Turbo’s were a still-born product of the 2006 code-base.

    If they stopped using a Turbo and instead switched to a non-Turbo, then that Turbo license didn’t steal a non-Turbo sale, and is covered by one of the available answers.

  15. I think that turbo is not used because people are tired of limitations and bugs and using pirated version of full version instead.

  16. I hate Turbo Delphi editions but I still use Delphi 6 personal edition which is/was free. The only thing it missed was support for Database connectivity. I like it and I use it for database development thanks to KADAO for Delphi Pesonal edition.

  17. Hi!

    Yes, it was a marketing geek … after D2005 the develpers wanted back the turbos … Delphi Versions without annoying integrated .net stuff that never worked … thats all about the turbos – I liked them too …

    community editions are for feeding the kids,… we already had our community edition in the 80s 90s;-).

    I think a community edtion of Delphi will not solve the problem of spreading the product. The focus has changed from syntax to architecture … but architecture is something that has to do with thinking.
    Delphi is following a RAD approach supporting “SWAT” development … this turned out to be a more expensive, but powerful approach.

    Maybe Embarcadero is thinking over how to bring Prism in the position to superseed MS. This already happens in some areas, but not under the label of Delphi … Same good ideas and tools brought to the .net C# world… we still benefit, but what we have to do is to concatenate strings that look somehow different … but only somehow…

    A community driven Delphi already exists … if you want something engage … there is nothing free in this world. And that’s the point, we currently live in a decade where one penetration offensive follows another …


  18. I am using specially modified portable version of Turbo Explorer personally each day 🙂 Extremely stable and blazingly fast.
    And I don’t see any Vista or Windows 7 related problems.

  19. A long time ago I’ve traded an illegal copy of Delphi 4 with a costudent for “The Ultimate Ass Bangers Collection #12” or something like that. Yeah, sue me Borland.

    I introduced the guy to Delphi, and I saw on LinkedIn that he’s still a Delphi developer today. If he had to pay more than one lousy porn CD he surely would’ve not bothered trying out Delphi.

    For this reason, I think that every university on this planet should have a FULL enterprise version (not some useless dumbed down version) of Delphi installed on every PC for students to play with.

    I recently visited my old university and everywhere I looked I saw posters with announcements for free C#4.0 workshops and free training for other Microsoft products. Visual Studio was installed on every PC, but Delphi was nowhere to be found (that used to be different!).

    Embarcadero should be actively pushing Delphi to young students by giving them full versions for free. It’ll pay off sooner or later.

  20. The problem of a free edition is always to set the limitations: It should fix up enough people to buy the regular versions. The Turbos had some features i and i think most developers (and not architect) did not need like Together as an tool. On the other hand the main adavantage of delphi were the lots of 3rd party components. I works with some of them since delphi 4. A turbo version which can’t be expanded with other components was useless for me.

    On the other hand i think the regular price of the now smallest version the professional (here in Germany 399 Euro Upgrade and 899 Euro New User Version) is too expensive for people who do not earn money with their programming skills.

    Embarcadero should think about a version with cuts you can live as an hobbist for example without together, without client/server database support for a lower price in the 99-199 euro region. Perhaps taht would be better than a turbo version.

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