VMware and virtualization in general is in a far different place now than it was even three years ago. Hypervisors are well on their way to becoming commodities, and virtualized infrastructures will soon outnumber traditional infrastructures. The key concept in virtualization isn't be so much the hypervisor itself, but the management, performance, and upper-echelon features of the entire infrastructure.
VMware needs to attract and keep customers now, because there will be a time when the rest of the world catches up, and their competition can actually match their flagship product feature-for-feature. A good way to go about doing that might be to lower the barrier to entry. I'm certainly not a financial expert, but I might assume that adjusting your prices and offering more ways to buy your product isn't a bad idea, especially when your competition is giving away their admittedly not-as-good products for essentially free.
But what if they offered a subscription without support for a significant price reduction? I could buy the licenses and maintain a software subscription without having any level of support since I don't need it. If I did need it, they could charge a per-incident fee. Everybody wins.
At the end of the day, I just want to pay for what I use and not be required to spend extra on services that I don't want or need. Is that too much to ask?