The real problem --uneven treatment
Creative gave out ALchemy for free --but only if you were an X-Fi owner. If you were an Audigy owner, you were stuck with a ten-buck charge.
Creative making this free is too little, too late. I've owned the vast majority of halfway decent sound cards they released (starting with the Soundblaster 1.5 back in 1992, and ending with an X-Fi XtremeGamer at present), this kind of treatment, along with their deliberate crippling of functionality in Audigy and X-Fi drivers penalizing those that upgraded to Vista (when the functionality could have been there) was the last straw. My next card will likely be one of the ASUS Xonar line --and I'll never touch a Creative card again. They bit the hand that feeds them one too many times.