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IDA Pro Freeware Update

November 5th, 2007 by Multimedia Mike

Thanks to igorsk for informing me that DataRescue has made an updated version of IDA Pro available as freeware. No longer must we suffer the quirks of the old freeware version 4.3– we get to learn a whole new set of idiosyncrasies with 4.9.


DataRescue IDA Pro -- Improved version available

The sales folks at DataRescue told me that this freeware release was in the works– to pacify me when they refused to sell me a license for the full version of IDA Pro. Interesting business model.

Posted in IDA Pro, Reverse Engineering | 12 Comments »

12 Responses

  1. igorsk Says:

    Yes, buying an IDA license for an independent researcher (not a company) is not easy. I don’t really agree with their approach but it’s their product after all…
    If you’re in Germany/Austria/Switzerland, you can buy a copy from the German reseller:
    http://www.german-sales.com/ida_pro_disassembler_programm.htm

  2. john_doe Says:

    True, I bought a copy from German Sales and had no problems at all. Maybe you/the ffmpeg team could make a deal with DataRescue like the ScummVM team did. They got 5 licenses for half of the normal price.
    But the 4.9 probably will be good enough.

  3. Pierre Vandevenne Says:

    FWIW, it is remains possible to order IDA Pro Standard as an independent researcher. There are a few requirements though. (in general – I don’t remember why your order was rejected)

    – no anonymous user.
    – if non-public figure (for example openly involved in some decent project), physical delivery.
    – no fake information on the order form. In many cases, people invent a company. That is an immediate cause of rejection.

    Igor,

    (sidenote: you purchased as a private user I believe)

    No one has ever agreed with our policy. I guess this is a trait of the IDA Pro user base. Some believe we should sell at a low price to everyone. Some believe we should only target some markets, at $50.000 a pop. Etc… In fact, there was a time where I received advice on an almost daily base, from persons who, of course, had never run a company. Today’s result is that IDA survived and its market grew, by double digits, 12 years out of 13 (the bad year was 2002).

    The reason remains the same: leak the latest version, and our sales do down very very severely. The downside was close to 90% in the past. It is closer to 40-50% today.

    Last note: purchasing through our US distributor or our German distributor is subject to the same approval mechanism and the approval mechanism goes back to the same place :-)

  4. Multimedia Mike Says:

    I don’t pretend to know much about how to run a successful business, software or otherwise. But turning away a potential customer who has cash in hand and who really wants to buy the product intuitively strikes me as odd.

  5. Pierre Vandevenne Says:

    Well, when those potential customers (in general, not you) have demonstrated a very high probability of leaking the software, thereby causing damages that are, at least, 100 times the cash they have in their hands, the math is quickly done.

    We reject 2-3% of the non blatantly fraudulent purchase attempts. These 2-3% represent less than 1% of the global sales. A leak hits us for roughly 40% (let’s be optimistic here) of our turnover… 1 out of 3 of those private users we reject is highly dubious. The decision is fairly simple.

    Even if we rejected blindly all private users, we’d still be on the positive side.

    And this comes from a person who supported and delivered a $25/$50 student version of IDA.

    – it leaked within 30 minutes of its release. (was downloadable from the home page of TU Wien, no less)

    – suddenly, every customer was a student of some kind.

  6. Pierre Vandevenne Says:

    Mike,

    I looked at the reason your order was rejected. Won’t post them here. There isn’t anything dramatically bad, but let me quote your blog here

    “This may come as a surprise to many hardcore reverse engineers out there but I have actually never used DataRescue’s IDA Pro disassembler tool. Chalk it up to a general aversion to non-free software as well as the chore of having to boot into Windows for the experiment”

    So, if I get things correctly, in 2005, you won’t use IDA because there is no freeware version available. (there is, but well, ok, you are not obliged to know about it)

    And now, you are complaining that we rejected your purchase on the grounds that we have a freeware version.

    In some ways, quite amusing :-)

  7. Multimedia Mike Says:

    Were it not for your prior growth boast, I would wonder why your organization is averse to the prospect of gaining new customers. I wasn’t interested in your software at the outset; now I am. Isn’t that a positive development from your perspective?

  8. Pierre Vandevenne Says:

    Boast? Merely stating a fact. Yes, your interest is definitely a positive development. The “fun fact”, here, is not that your newly born interest in the commercial version of our product replaces a lack of interest. The “fun fact” is that the initial rejection of our commercial version which based on somewhat arbitrary principles “I don’t like non-free software” is now replaced by a rejection of our commercial policy, again based on arbitrary principles “they should accept all customers with cash in their hands”.

    There’s a slight inconsistency if you ask me :-)

    This being said, as I said then and as I think now: I am glad our freeware version gives you the opportunity to enjoy IDA.

    Happy ending?

  9. Multimedia Mike Says:

    Truly, people who run normal businesses would marvel at your luxury of being able to prudently contemplate each prospective customer on such a wide range of factors.

    So, in August of 2005, I mentioned that I was tentatively diving into IDA Pro and that I quite liked it. 2 years later, I found myself in the middle of a rather large reverse engineering effort involving IDA Pro. I realized that, while the freeware version was okay, I might like to invest in the full version which would hopefully crash less and have fewer other quirks, plus more features. That’s when you told me my money was no good at your store.

    About that aversion to non-free software– certain people object to such software for any number of reasons. Ironically, very few people object to non-free software on the grounds that “they refuse to sell it to me.”

  10. VAG Says:

    Ah, same old Pierre, same old story…

  11. Daniel Peebles Says:

    I’d like to add that, as an “independent researcher” affiliated with (but not purchasing under) an academic institution, it isn’t impossible to get an IDA Pro license as an individual. These guys seriously do lose a lot of revenue every time a copy leaks. It’s not as simple as turning down a guy with cash in his hands. Like any company, they must do a cost-benefit analysis, and if your 515 dollars look to them like even with a 20% probability it will a $51500 revenue loss, then the expected value is clearly negative and they’ll turn you down. It’s nothing personal… it’s simply not worth it to them.

    I’m sure it’s frustrating for you, but unfortunately that’s a consequence of Datarescue’s market. If they blindly sold licenses to everyone who asked for one, all it would take would be a few wealthy pirates who don’t care about their reputations, and Datarescue would lose most of its profit.

  12. Pierre Vandevenne Says:

    Yeah, VAG, I know. As soon as I stepped in – around 1995 – I was immediately flagged, possibly by you, certainly by your kind, as the person who would “kill IDA”.

    Fast forward to 2008, the proof is in the pudding.