Does feedback about the new pricing model really matter?

Does feedback about the new pricing model really matter?

Postby tillig » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:40 pm

I, like many in the community, am disappointed that Red Gate has chosen to switch up and charge for a tool that was supposed to remain free.

In this forum post, user AvonWyss provides several quotes from Red Gate, including one from 2008 when they took over Reflector:

Red Gate will continue to offer the tool for free to the community.

That one's even block-quoted right on the article. Of course, the FAQ on the policy change somewhat spins this:

We didn't promise to keep .NET Reflector free, but that was our stated intention at the time.

Is there a difference? Just because the word "promise" didn't show up in the original statement, is that any less a promise?

Based on this change, it appears that people in the community fall into one of two basic camps:
  • Those who feel betrayed by the change and believe Reflector should stay free.
  • Those who think it's a fine change because Red Gate should be paid for their work on Reflector.

I, personally, fall into the first camp - I feel betrayed by Red Gate not keeping up their proverbial end of the bargain. I fully understand the desire to be paid for maintaining professional grade tools, but there are also many examples of these tools that survive in an open source (or other similar) model that are equally professional grade and remain free. Besides, wasn't the point of "Reflector Pro" to get some revenue on top of the base Reflector product?

One would think they could adopt a model extending that notion of "Reflector Pro" - maybe sell add-ins or whatever at a premium while keeping the base product ("Express?") free. DevExpress does this with their CodeRush product; Microsoft does this with Visual Studio; yet somehow there's this amazingly large cost involved in maintaining Reflector, a tool that one guy carried for years in his spare time?

I won't lie and say I didn't see this coming. Back when Red Gate first assumed control of Reflector there was stink about wondering how long they'd go before they started charging. Of course, every step of the way, Red Gate reassured us that the tool would remain free and the premium extensions would be what they charge for. Hence my feeling of betrayal.

Betrayed or not, in agreement or not, this whole discussion leads me to the question:

Does providing feedback to Red Gate, positive or negative, about this change actually matter?

Is it going to change anything? Are they going to suddenly decide to not charge? They had to know what a stir this would cause. They had to know how many customers they'd be alienating, and they made the choice to do it anyway. Is this just another write-in campaign to save Firefly from being canceled?

I'd argue it's not going to make a lick of difference. Red Gate will let the community grouse about it, and they'll be happy to lose customers directly (through individuals getting irritated and leaving) or indirectly (through developers like me evaluating every product except Red Gate's when making purchase recommendations). They've already weighed that and decided it was worth the risk.

Of course, what's the competitor to Reflector? They have us over a barrel, so to speak, and they know it. I'd wager that made the decision a bit easier.

Even so, I can't help but hope that maybe, just maybe, the community voice will be heard.
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Postby AvonWyss » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:50 pm

I'm sure that this news will quicly spread in the community, and my feeling is that the name RedGate will get a bad taste in many people's mouth for what they are currently doing.

And I certainly hope that it will turn out that they are in fact breaking their own license agreement which came with v6, so that legal steps can be taken against the upcoming revocation/termination of the v6 license on May 30, 2011.
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Re: Does feedback about the new pricing model really matter?

Postby craig.wagner » Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:18 pm

tillig wrote:
Red Gate will continue to offer the tool for free to the community.

We didn't promise to keep .NET Reflector free, but that was our stated intention at the time.

Is there a difference? Just because the word "promise" didn't show up in the original statement, is that any less a promise?

I love how they pulled this spin. The original quote says "will", not "at our discretion may" or "for a limited time", it simply says "will" and no matter how they choose to spin it or play with semantics, they are, in my opinion, breaking a promise they made to the community.

However, I agree that all the complaining won't make a sniff of difference.
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Suppliers and Contractors - Check Your Contracts for "will"

Postby sosiosh » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:51 pm

I sincerely hope the Red Gate board of directors has the integrity to fire the executives who obviously do not have any integrity themselves. You do not want someone making company decisions if they are willing to play adolescent "Clinton-esque" word games about whether or not they made a promise or not. In what other aspects of their job are they pulling this garbage? It is so far beneath what a decent executive should do, and calls into question every other aspect of their leadership, from the initial decision to take over the product, to the decision to renege on a past committment.

If I were a supplier, I'd double check to make sure that every contract that specifies Red Gate "will" do something is modified because obviously they do not use that word in the same way everyone else does.

Shameful. Simply shameful.
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Third camp of developers

Postby hsteinhilber » Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:09 am

Actually, there is a third camp of developers that I fall into. Developers who believe that Redgate is well within their rights to charge for the *new* version of Reflector, but should not be timebombing the existing version that many of us use on a regular basis.

If they want to charge for the new features they add, great, but don't tell us we *have* to stop using the version we already have. The new version, with its new features, should be able to stand on its own and warrant the price charged.
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Charging obviously failed

Postby Christopher_G_Lewis » Thu Feb 03, 2011 6:02 pm

With the release of 6.0, red-gate started to charge for reflector, so lets look at that. There are basically two scenarios regarding the "Lets see if we can make some money off of reflector" experiment:
    1) Red-Gate didn't get any/enough income off the pro version to justify further work on reflector
    2) Red-Gate made a lot of money on the pro version and think they can get more

If #1 is the case, it basically means that the market determined that their enhancements weren't better than the free tool, so they built enhancements that no one wanted.
If #2 is the case, then they are just greedy bastards.

There's nothing we can do about #2, but with #1, this indicates that they wasted their time and the person who came up with the pro version concept screwed up, and now that person feels they need to fix this.
You'd think they'd realize that trying to directly sell reflector failed, and will always fail.

Hopefully they'll come to their senses and make a free version with a revenue source via advertising.

If not, I know that there will be a codeplex open source project that someone will create, and I'll gladly give them my $35.
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Postby tillig » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:13 pm

One thing I'll say: Whether you agree with the change in price or not, there is a certain inherent added expectation when you start charging for a product.

Which is to say, I don't necessarily expect a bug-free product or highly responsive support and fast bug-fixes if I'm not paying for something. Something crashes (which Reflector does a lot for me), I'm happy to send in the bug report and "just hope" that a fix will appear "whenever the next version comes around." I'm happy to have the product and provide a wide berth around expectations for support and fixes because, you know, it's free.

On the other hand, if I'm going to pay (or, more likely, my entire company is going to pay for many, many licenses) for a product, I'd best be able to get someone on the phone when things go wrong; I'd best have direct email support and not just wait around for someone to answer questions in the forums; and I'd best get a far more stable product with more response to the crash reports that get sent in. The expectations around quality and support go way up.
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Postby lassevk » Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:30 pm

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