Archive | February, 2003

FoxPro Wiki’s reaction to VFP EULA

The FoxPro Wiki also has a topic on the VFP license, here, where Jim Nelson seems to really launch into a diatribe with “marketing gimmick,” “sneak changes,” “unsuspecting community.” I agree with his point, although perhaps not with his vitriolic reaction.

Ultimately, this is a failure of the management of the FoxPro group to recognize that they were introducing a change to the product’s licensing, and a failure to alert their customers to the change. It didn’t need to be this traumatic. It simply needed to be presented in the correct light. Or, even better, the license change could have been reconsidered and rejected.

VFP 8.0 EULA Change: It’s a Question of Trust

Without announcing it, Microsoft changed the licensing requirements for Visual FoxPro 8.0 so that older versions of Visual FoxPro must be removed. These requirements apparently only apply to the “upgrade” version of VFP 8.0.

PCConnection lists the VFP 7.0* (NOTE: not the new 8.0 product) Upgrade at $239.95, a bargain for the most powerful Windows development environment, richest IDE, fastest single-tier database engine and best development community of any package in WinTelLand. The full version is listed at $517.35, a $277.40 premium over the upgrade product. Looked at the other way, an existing owner gets a 53.6% discount off of the full price for buying an upgrade. In 7.0 and before, this was a reward for having purchased the earlier package. In 8.0, I’m not so sure.

Section 11.1 of the VFP 8.0 End-User Licensing Agreement (EULA) states:

“11.1 Upgrades. To use a version of the Software identified as an upgrade, you must first be licensed for the software identified by Microsoft as eligible for the upgrade. After upgrading, you may no longer use the software that formed the basis for your upgrade eligibility.”

While that requirement may be appropriate for personal productivity packages, it is completely inappropriate for a development system. Applications developed with earlier versions must be supported with those earlier versions until it is practical and economically feasible, if ever, to upgrade to the latest runtime modules. In many cases, it is not feasible to upgrade tens, hundreds or thousands of machines to a later version. Older version of development environments must be maintained until all clients have been updated. For developers and consultants who are taking on new work, it is not at all unusual to come across a new client who is two or three versions behind in their systems.

The issue here is not a couple hundred bucks. It is a question of truthfulness and trustworthiness. A change this significant to the EULA cannot be buried in section 11.1 of a long and incomprehensible document. As significant change in licensing ought to be made public, explained to the community, debated, flamed, and eventually accepted. We VFP developer fans are almost always referred to as a “rabid” lot, and paying a couple of extra hours of billable time for the correct version, and to keep our product alive, is not an unreasonable price to pay for what I still consider one of the best products ever on the PC platform.

However, failing to be in licensing compliance can be an offense justifying termination for some employees. Failing to be in license compliance can result in a huge fine, possibly crippling a business, from the BSA. Changing the licensing terms without properly notifying their customer base is a violation of trust between customer and vendor.

Microsoft ought to be ashamed of trying to “sneak this in under the radar,” and needs to make all efforts to clarify what their licensing policies are, what has changed from version to version, and what their customers need to do to stay in compliance.

I send money to vendors when they provide me with new and updated products that make my job the enjoyable profession that it is. I trust them to support me as I support them. Microsoft has failed to live up to this basic principle of commerce, and needs to make amends.

* (Prices for VFP 8.0 do not seem to be available on retail sites I’ve searched. A search of shows PC Mall listing VFP 8.0 for $607.99 and for $563.92, but both appear to be the full product.)

Microsoft FoxPro 8.0 EULA forbids earlier versions?

Craig Bentson reports on a fatal phrase in the EULA for the upgrade version of Visual FoxPro 8.0, which requires the uninstallation of previous versions of the software. I am supporting clients in Visual FoxPro 6.0 and 7.0, and have no intention of removing my ability to support my clients and make a living.

Garrett has the section of the EULA on his web page as well. I would never have considered that getting an upgrade discount from a vendor disqualified me from using an earlier version. With other software, such as an office package or photo editing software, I suppose I wouldn’t need to. But a development system is different. You develop and compile and distribute your applications on different versions to your customers, and you have to continue to use that version to support the customer until it is feasible to update all customers to the most recent version. In some cases, like one former client of mine with a VFP 5.0 application on 28,000 desktops, there has to be a pretty strong reason to do that, as the cost of deploying a new application and new runtimes is not small.

Where’s the sense in this? The upgrade discount is supposed to be a “reward for loyalty,” a motivator to get existing customers (the vast majority of VFP purchasers, I expect) to purchase the upgrade, and quickly, as the discount is often available only for a limited time. Anyone who has developed in previous versions is likely to need to maintain them for some time, in order to support deployed applications. The only people who could qualify for the upgrade price savings are either those who have never deployed an application, or those who choose to ignore the EULA.

Edward Tufte online

Ernie the Attorney posts: “Using Visual Information? Ask Edward Tufte. Alice W of a mad tea-party has a post entitled Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.  She refers to Edward Tufte (Professor Emeritus at Yale) as “the grand-daddy of using graphics to convey information correctly” and says “[i]t wasn’t until yesterday that I realized he had his very own website!” I didn’t realize that either.  Thanks for the notice.  I have three of Tufte’s books.  He is definitely worth reading if you care about using visuals and graphic information to communicate better.”

I, too, am a great fan of Tufte. I was just moving some things in the office yesterday, and came across a poster of Mindard’s great chart of Napoleon’s March on Russia. Must get that framed and hung in a place of honor.

Auntie Em! Auntie Em! Where have you gone?

I’m a regular reader of Certified Professional magazine, having passed 17 Microsoft certification exams in order to get my MCSE once and my MCSD three times (I’m done, btw, but that’s another story for another day). “Em C. Pea” is the pseudonym of the back-page columnist, always the hot spot in a magazine, and it’s been occupied for a couple of years now by a pretty snappy writer, one who didn’t hesitate to give Microsoft a good lashing when it deserved it. No more. While she claims to have a cold this issue, I suspect the rah-rah attitude is much more likely a symptom of personality replacement. Whether caused by a staff rotation or a ouster at the behest of some unnamed evil force, this is not the same writer (Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence, I’ve been told). Too bad. One of my first tirades in the industry press more than a decade ago was a protest of the rumored canning of Robert X. Cringely, the person, not the InfoWorld ™ and RXC (tpnt™) went to to much larger things. I hope the Auntie Em ghost writer can have similar good fortunes.

Small Pieces Loosely Famous….

A picture named small-pieces-cover-sm.jpg David Weinberger writes “I had my 15 minutes and no one told me until they were over Dept.. In its monthly list of “Wired, Tired and Expired,” the new issue of Wired lists “loosely joined” as tired. (“Evolved” is wired and “tightly coupled” is expired.) I believe that according to the terms of the Geneva Convention on Lost Luggage, I am therefore entitled to claim that “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” must have been at some point implicitly wired. Right? Woohoo [by implication]!…” from Joho the Blog. I just finished reading SPLJ last night, my first pass through it. I look forward to reading it again.

Demo: 10 technologies to watch

SJ Mercury: From Demo: 10 technologies to watch. Of the 60 companies invited, I picked 10 I think are poised to change the way we interact with technology in the next three years or so — either because their product itself was so impressive, or because their idea is sure to inspire others in the industry to pursue similar goals. [Tomalak’s Realm]

Divine Musings

God’s been logging his experiment — what a hack. Please skip if easily offended by heresy or blasphemy.

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