LabVIEW Home Bundle is now available for personal, non-commercial use. Initially, it will be available for sale through Digilent. See ni.com product page for more details.
It has come up in discusssions that NI does not really cater to hobbyists. A cheap and functional version of LabVIEW is limited to the student edition, which is restricted to a small subset of potential users.
"The LabVIEW Student Edition is available to students, faculty, and staff for personal educational use only. It is not intended for research or institutional use."
As a suggested first step, I suggest to remove the academia restriction and mold it into a new product:
--- LabVIEW personal edition ---
Licensed as follows:
"The LabVIEW Personal Edition is for personal use only. It is not intended for commercial, research or institutional use."
It would be available to anyone for noncommercial home use.
LabVIEW currently has the home use exemption that allows installing a copy at home. Unfortunately, if you lose your job, you not only lose your health insurance, but you also lose access to LabVIEW, thus hampering any self paced LabVIEW tinkering that possibly would improve future job prospects. I am sure many retired LabVIEW engineers would love some recreational LabVIEW use. They could be a great asset, because they will have more time helping out in the community and forums. They could even give guest presentations at user group meetings, for example.
The LabVIEW personal edition should include all modules of interest to the hobbyist, including application builder, embedded, FPGA, and robotics. We should be able to distribute built applications as freeware. Support would be limited to community support.
Installing LabVIEW on every single private home computer in the world would cost NI exactly nothing (except for some sales of the current student edition which is about the price of a textbook, some internet bandwidth, and loss of the zero to two (?) multi-millionaires who actually bought the NI developer suite for themselves. ;)). 99.9% of users would never touch it, but that 0.1% could come up with great new application areas and would help spread the word on how great LabVIEW really is. Soon 0.2% would use it. 🙂
It should follow the "customer class limited" Freemium model, (as defined by Chris Anderson), i.e. limited to personal home use in this case.
The running applications should be clearly identified to prevent commercial use. The splash screen and "about" screen should prominently display the words LabVIEW and National Instruments and could even be used for NI advertising and product placements, for example.