In spite of the wide availability of microprocessors and microcontrollers, embedded system designers are often challenged to find the exact processor or microcontroller that will fit their need. For many applications, no commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product provides an optimal combination of performance, peripherals, price, packaging, and persistence. Programmable-logic-based soft-core processors like the Altera Nios II embedded processor overcome the limitations of COTS processors and microcontrollers by enabling users to specify and only pay for the exact functionality they require. This paper documents two examples of first-time Nios II processor users who initially chose Altera’s soft-core processors to overcome the inflexibility of COTS microprocessors and microcontrollers.