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TradeStation 2000i does allow a data feed and broker that you can choose. With this version you must buy the software to own it. 200i Is an older version, not sold or supported by Omega Research. With some research you may still find it on the internet for sale.
After that, Tradestation 8 does lock you in to Tradestation brokerage and their commission structure. Newer versions of TradeStation software are free and supported by Omega Research.
I've used Tradestation for several years. Both Tradestation 2000i (the first version I used) and TS8. With 2000i you could end up becoming a "Data Manager" because that part of the program can be challenging.
For a beginner with the program, I'd definitely recommend TS8 for the following reasons.
1. The programming language (Easylanguage) is the heart of the software. It's challenging (but rewarding) to learn for someone new to programming. But by using TS8 the online video tutorials and courses and book make sense.
2. If you choose 2000i you may not have access to proper tutorial information as they are no longer supplied by Tradestation.
3. With TS8 you have the option of using your own data via a program called owndata or using data direct from Tradestation. The Tradestation data is usually enough when testing your initial trading ideas, as there are several types of market included.
There is one caveat, however, when you look at older books with Tradestation code; this code will usually have been written for TS2000i and you'll have to make adjustments. This is usually straightforward but you can also get help on various forums.