This was a ridiculously bad business decision...but it's not too late.
But before I explain let me make it clear, that I am not against Red-Gate or anyone who creates and sustains a product from monetizing that product. I, personally, would have been fine if Red-Gate had said something like this... "All future versions of this product, starting from from Version 7 onward, will be non-free. However, we will release version 6 community edition as a non-supported, non-maintained, non-expiring version that will be downloadable from our website."
I realize that although Red-Gate is putting on the face of regret (as in, we shouldn't have promised), in the hallows of the corporate offices, they think of people like me, and millions of other people as freeloaders, who want something for nothing and are not willing to pay a pittance for a good tool.
What they SHOULD realize is that millions of developers around the world have come to expect that reflector, the free tool they have come to rely on, has been removed from the market. I would say that they have "taken the candy from the baby" except that we are not babies, but professional developers who care about their work.
In other words, the galling thing for me, is NOT that I can't get version 7 for free...that is fine with me. It is that I can't get ANY version for free.
For most of what I had used reflector for, the version that came out 5 years ago was working just fine.
So, as to why it was a bad business decision, I do not know if the pointey-haired suits at Red-Gate could have worked any harder to foster as much bad-will with reflector users as they have done with this decision.
I can see the corporate meeting now, "..let's not give users ANY free version, and let's automatically disable any free version that they do have...then they'll bop right over and buy the new one...", who spiked your coffee on THAT day.
My analysis on just about everything is predicated on the fact that I am a lot like most people. I don't mind a company changing the business-model to monetize a product. I am GLAD when companies are profitable. And yet I have found this decision to be galling.
So with me, here is how it COULD have gone down. As I started looking online for reflector so I could install it onto my new computer today, had I seen that I could get version 6 for free (unsupported, unmaintained, but non-expiring ) but could also get version 7 for $35.00 I probably would have purchased the non-free version. OR, I could have continued to use the Version 6 free version and then, next time I needed version to decompile a .NET 4.5 (or later) app I would have hopped on over to your website and bought the version I needed. So it just postpones the timeframe it takes for me to become your customer. But either way I become your customer.
Instead, not only will I NOT buy version 7 of reflector, I will not buy ANY Red-Gate software, EVER. ( And I HAD seriously considered angling my bosses to purchase your SQL-PROMPT tool for me. )
It just seems obvious that, whatever you do, don't foster bad-will with people. You spend too much on marketing to have it all un-done by a pointey-haired, bean-counting suit. There is absolutely NO WAY this decision is going to help your bottom line.
It is NOT TOO LATE to change your mind. In the end, I expect a profit-driven company to operate in their best interest, even if means a public pronouncement of "we made a mistake...here is version 6 community edition".
Seth B Spearman