I think there are several issues here. One is the right of the developer to choose the license terms they wish to sell their product under. In this, I am with the developer: if they want to sell a simple file manager for a $2,500 per year subscription, I'd be surprised if they have any takers, but that's their right. Consumers can examine the terms, gasp in horror, and move on.
Changing the terms after the fact is a completely different issue. If I'm told I'm buying one thing, and it is suddenly changed to another, then I am bound to become annoyed. (I have seen one instance where the terms were not
changed, but where the issue came up, and a lot of users volunteered to give up their lifetime licenses if that would help keep the product viable. I'd do so myself. That is different; if a developer says "I will honour my original terms, but I'm having difficulties and anyone who wishes to donate / buy a new license / whatever may do so" I have no problem with that at all.) If the terms are too confusing, well, it would depend on the exact situation how I felt personally, but I'd expect a lot of confused customers to be put off.
As for expecting things to be free: I, personally, don't expect them to be, but if someone chooses to offer software as freeware, I'm not going to turn them down just so I can buy commercial software, either. I tend to prefer freeware / donationware for several reasons. Most importantly, most of it seems to actually do what it is supposed to. I've paid $90 for software bloated with bells and whistles that wouldn't work right, then downloaded a nifty little tool offered as freeware that did just what I needed with no fuss. The second reason is because I can try it before I decide if it's worth anything. If I decide it is, I can donate to the author - although, if the author has provided the option to use it free of charge, they have no more reason to expect
everyone to donate than I have to expect them to offer it free in the first place. My third reason is simply this: money is limited. I can't always afford what I need when I need it. So I can use freeware / donationware, then donate when I have more cash in hand. *
I'm not against donating for good software, not at all. I think the idea of DonationCoder is a great one. And I think more and more people are - slowly - beginning to understand that if you find something great, maybe it is a good idea to encourage that, even if you're not required to pay. And I understand it is tough for developers: unless they get a job with one of the "evil empires"
I don't think many of them make much more than writers do. But they need to understand, if they offer the option of getting something free, some people will take it, either because they're greedy or just because they can't afford to do otherwise.And, here is the important part: if they don't like the overall attitude of the public, they need to take steps to change that attitude. DC is one good idea in that direction. Is it enough? I don't know, but I do know the Internet offers any of us who are unhappy the chance to get a hearing. Get out there and blog, share your ideas, help the public understand why they should consider donating to developers. I'm not saying it's wrong to vent a little on a forum like this one, but if you really don't like the way it is, you've got to put your ideas out there, explain them, defend them, not among the folks who already understand what you're saying, but among the ones who don't. And you've got to find a way to do it that will reach them, not annoy them. The rest of this post is just my opinion, but this point isn't my opinion, it is how things work. No one else is going to make the changes you think they should unless you can first convince them why they should.
* So, for anyone who's on here who's written software I like, if you hear I've written a book, there's your reason to tell all your friends how great it is. If it becomes a best-seller, some of that goodness might just flow your way.