This suggestion has been made before twice, in 2010 and 2011, in a more or less similar manner, and declined both times, but in light of the recent announcement of LabVIEW Community Edition I thought it might be worth a 3rd shot, so here it is with my own rationale for it (originally posted here).
Consider eventually also making available an (also free) "Core" edition of LabVIEW coupled with a much-reduced-in-size "LabVIEW Core Runtime", with everything hardware- and advanced-math-related removed, but allowing for commercial and academic usage.
There would be many benefits in doing so:
It'd would allow LabVIEW to develop more into general purpose language, suitable for developing generic cross-platform desktop and web applications;
It'd bring all manners of new developers from outside the very specialized field of industrial applications;
These non-industrially-focused developer would develop new libraries and open source packages that'd expand LabVIEW's capabilities in all manners of directions;
And then all these elements -- 3rd party "for core" tools, new developers, new ideas -- would provide a boost to the industrial-related versions, which would become the natural upgrade paths.
Doing this might risk losing a few sales of paid-for versions, and it'd also incur in costs as NI would have to decouple many things, which would require lots of engineering hours to do. But I believe long term it'd boost LabVIEW's usage in significant ways, and result into even more sales down the line.
Typical usage progressions would become something like this:
Core → Community → Base → Full → Pro → Pro + add-ons → Suite(s)
Core → Core + (new, paid for) Advanced Math and similar core-focused add-ons → etc.
Core for entry level generic programming classes → Academic licenses for classes focused on industrial applications → Academic licenses for actual research