I continue to snigger at your pronouncements of technological inevitability

Back in January, I declared my amusement at people proclaiming impending technology trend takeovers as inevitable and irresistible. Among other things, I had this to say (it’s a familiar phrase in Britain):

What a load of bollocks.

Today I was provided with another example (thanks Ralph):

What falling e-book sales tell us about technology in 2017

I encourage you to read that post, which seems to me to be right on the money. E-books, yesterday’s Next Big Thing, are now in sharp decline. The inevitable technology takeover turned out to be not quite so inevitable after all. Who could have guessed?

Here’s another quote from my January post:

Next time somebody tries to tell you something like, “The whole software industry is moving to the rental model, all software will be sold that way soon, there will be no avoiding it,” please …

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Autodesk now has only one CEO

The speculation is over. Autodesk no longer has Schrödinger’s CEO. Elon Musk has missed out, the winner is…

Andrew “Baked Beans” Anagnost!

Here’s the press release and here’s a letter from Andrew.

The other obvious internal candidate, Amar Hanspal, has decided to leave the company. Resigned on the spot, so I’m told. As the financial rewards for winning the CEO race are akin to winning the lottery, coming second must have been a major disappointment to product guy Amar, who I first met when he was helping to drive the hugely successful Release 14 program. Best wishes to Amar for the future …

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Further Autodesk subscription inflexibility

Autodesk’s claim that its all-rental business model adds flexibility for customers has always been bullshit.

That’s a self-evident truth. Nobody believes that removing customers’ purchasing options amounts to anything but inflexibility. Particularly when the purchasing option removed is that preferred by the vast majority of customers.

But wait! There’s more! I recently discovered that it’s even more inflexible than I originally thought!

If you sign up for single-user (standalone) subscription licenses you’re stuck with them for the duration of your agreement. You can’t upgrade them to multi-user (network) licenses. Doesn’t matter how much cash you wave in Autodesk’s face, or how much you point out that single-user subscription licensing is a crock, it will be a case of “computer says no”.


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Bentley marketers love Autodesk

Bentley Systems marketers are currently taking advantage of Autodesk customers’ distaste for the Big A’s rent-or-GTFO business model.

For any Autodesk competitor, this is a fairly smart move. Autodesk has offered a free kick to its competitors and is betting on them all kicking the ball wide of the net. How accurate is Bentley’s shooting?

In this case, AutoCAD customers are being encouraged to take up MicroStation. Via the Cadalyst Direct opt-in advertising list, I received an email entitled AutoCAD Users, you need options. We listened:

Talk about feeling trapped (which has many Autodesk customers angry), options and flexibility (which Autodesk has removed) and listening (which Autodesk really sucks at) are clearly taking advantage of Autodesk’s self-inflicted subscription …

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Autodesk subscription offer begins today

It’s 15 June, which means all of those millions of Autodesk customers with perpetual licenses on maintenance can now give those licenses back to Autodesk and rent them back for about the same amount.


Despite Autodesk’s best efforts to sell this deal as a silk purse, it’s a real pig’s ear.

Artificially raising maintenance prices doesn’t make the subscription changeover deal any more attractive. It only serves to annoy those customers too sensible to throw away their valuable perpetual licences in return for a temporary price freeze and the vaguest of promises not to gouge you in future. History tells you exactly how much that promise is worth.

This can only be described as an astonishingly arrogant ambit claim by Autodesk. It should be ignored to death. Like any sign-up-now-or-lose-out used car deal, walking out of the …

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Autodesk and reseller satisfaction polls

Today I was asked to complete an Autodesk Reseller Satisfaction survey, which I was happy to do. My reseller does a good job. There was also a question about satisfaction with Autodesk.

I’ve shamelessly stolen Autodesk’s question and used it in a poll here. Please only respond if you are or were an Autodesk customer.

Customers - how would you rate your overall satisfaction with Autodesk?

View Results

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I’ve added a similar poll about Autodesk resellers. Please only respond if you are or were a customer of Autodesk resellers.

Customers - how would you rate your overall satisfaction with your Autodesk reseller?

View Results

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Here’s one just for Autodesk resellers. Please only respond if you are or were an Autodesk reseller.

Resellers - how would you rate your overall satisfaction with Autodesk?

View Results

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Feel free to comment here if you wish to discuss the ratings you provided.

Maybe I should complete the set and do polls for Autodesk and its resellers to rate their customers?

AutoCAD 2018 licensing crash – another reason to avoid subscription

Autodesk has released an update to fix the following AutoCAD 2018 problem:

Product users of version 2018 Autodesk single-user subscriptions may experience an intermittent crash. The crash occurs when it has been more than 24 hours since the last successful authorization check and there is intermittent or no internet connection, or the licensing authorization server is unavailable. The licensing authorization check occurs in the background and is completely unrelated to activities the user is performing at the time of the crash.
A fatal error message may be shown by the product. For example:

FATAL ERROR: Unhandled e06d7363h Exception at ee563c58h


Note that this crash only afflicts subscription (rental) single-user (standalone) customers. People with perpetual licenses don’t have to put up with the multiple additional points of failure caused by the subscription licensing system insisting on phoning home every 30 days. Yes, even if you pay for three years’ subscription up front, you’ll still need a working Internet connection every 30 days if you want to keep using the product.

At least, Autodesk has been saying it’s only once every 30 days (as if that wasn’t bad enough). The information provided with this hotfix tells a different story. What is the license server doing phoning home 24 hours after the last successful authorization check? Enquiring minds want to know.

No criticism of Autodesk is implied for providing this hotfix. As always, I commend Autodesk for fixing up problems as they arise. The basis of my criticism is the hotfix being necessary in the first place. It’s caused by Autodesk inflicting unnecessary complication on its customers for its own internal reasons. This one fails the “how does this benefit the customer?” test big-time.

The single-user subscription licensing mechanism has been a crock from day one, especially for CAD Managers of multiple users who have to deal with its onerous requirements. It’s an astonishingly poor design, very badly implemented. Even with this particular crash fixed, it’s still a crock.

ADSK celebrates two full years of losses

Autodesk Reports Strong First Quarter Results, says the press release.

Autodesk co-CEO Amar Hanspal:

Broad-based strength across all subscription types and geographies led to another record quarter for total subscription additions and a fantastic start of the new fiscal year. Customers continue to embrace the subscription model, and we’re expanding our market opportunity with continued momentum of our cloud-based offerings, such as BIM 360 and Fusion 360.

Autodesk co-CEO Andrew Anagnost:

We’re executing well and making significant progress on our business model transition as evidenced by our first quarter results. We’re starting the year from a position of strength and are excited to kick off the next phase of our transition when we offer our maintenance customers a simple, cost effective path to product subscription starting next month.

Thanks to this fantastic progress into the exciting new customer-embraced rental-only business model, Autodesk has now recorded eight successive …

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The big Bricsys interview 11 – free viewer?

This is the final post in a series covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. If you’ve made it through to the end of this series, congratulations! I hope you found it illuminating.

In this post, R.K. McSwain asks a question about a possible BricsCAD-based DWG viewer, which turns into a brainstorming session!

R.K.: Do you guys have a viewer? A read-only viewer? Is it something you’re looking to do?

Erik: No. BricsCAD classic costs, you know, $400.

Steve: Autodesk is giving one away anyway.

R.K.: They give it away, but you know what it is. It’s almost a 1 GB download, I was thinking as maybe a way to get people interested in BricsCAD? Here’s a viewer, I wonder what else it can do…

Mark: What? (disbelieving) The viewer is almost one gig?

Steve: …

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The big Bricsys interview 10 – platforms

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh.

In this post, R.K. McSwain asks about BricsCAD running on three different platforms. Erik explains why BricsCAD for Mac (and Linux) is so much more complete than AutoCAD for Mac, which has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese.

R.K.: Do all three platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac) contain the same functionality?

Erik: Yes. Sometimes it’s a bit hard with the Mac to bring it along but so far, so good. The only problem sometimes is in the APIs.

We are using wxWidgets and not the Microsoft classes. This gives us the ability, with the same source code more or less, to serve Mac, Linux and Windows. By far Windows is the most important one. By history, all the applications …

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The big Bricsys interview 9 – treading on developers

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. Erik explains that Bricsys won’t trample over its application partners in Autodesk-like fashion, except…

Steve: Autodesk is known for treading on its third-party developers and replacing their market. Can you tell us about your attitude to doing that?

Erik: We have always said that we are not stepping into any application market. We will not do it.

There’s only one exception, that’s where there is no [other] possibility. There was no sheet metal. There is no viable [third-party] DWG sheet metal product in the market today for sheet metal. Then we do it, of course.

For BIM, there are. There is a German product. We have talked to those guys, but the problem is, for BIM the way we do it, it’s so deep …

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The big Bricsys interview 8 – boundaries and BIM

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh.

Erik discusses where Bricsys can go in future and the place BIM has in that.

Cyrena: So what is your vision, ultimately, of what Bricsys will become in tandem with your partners? Do you have limits or boundaries of which markets you will address and which you won’t? Are you going to be bigger than… “somebody else” one day?

Erik: If it comes to the number of customers, challenging AutoCAD is difficult. 12 million registered users. If you count illegal users it might add up to, I don’t know, 20 million, 30 million? I don’t know, nobody knows.

What are the boundaries of where we can go? It’s more or less dictated by the application markets. We have application developers in GIS, we have …

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Teresa from Autodesk in subscription interview

As a follow-up to the Pixel Fondue video I posted about earlier, Greg from Pixel Fondue conducted a follow-up interview with Teresa Anania, Autodesk’s Senior Director, Subscription Success.

Greg and I asked for your questions for Teresa and I passed on several of my own to him. A word of warning: don’t do as I did and watch through all 54 minutes waiting increasingly impatiently for those questions to come up. They don’t. Anyway, thanks to Greg for conducting this interview and to Teresa for participating.

Greg has now posted the video. Here’s the TL;DW (too long; didn’t watch) version:

  • Greg came up with some suggestions for making subscription more attractive (mainly to entertainment and media customers) and Teresa seemed open to those suggestions.
  • Teresa doubled down on a bunch of the spin that has been thoroughly skewered by …

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The big Bricsys interview 7 – the applications ecosystem

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh.

In this post, Erik discusses the Bricsys efforts to work with and assist third-party developers. He does this without being prompted by a question – it’s obviously very important to him.

Erik: For our future growth it’s very important, the ecosystem of the applications we have now. We have talked a lot about what we are doing and about our own products, but we should maybe have spent more time on the importance of the ecosystem. The worst thing we could do is forget the application market for us.

We will not, and we are not able, to develop another HVAC system or a [inaudible] system. We are limited in our resources and focused too much in our development. We believe that if there are five …

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Autodesk products are falling like parrots

Autodesk is killing off products at such a rate I can’t keep up with it all. The latest ones to fall off the perch and join the choir invisible are Structural Detailing and Advance Concrete.

I think. As I said, I can’t keep up.

Despite the recent departures, Autodesk still has way too many products and it’s inevitable that the cull of Carl’s acquisitions and creations will continue. It’s just too bad if you’re one of the people using a product that Autodesk feels isn’t profitable and/or exciting enough, you’ll just have to learn to live without it.

Although 2017 has been particularly brutal for End Of Life experiences, Autodesk killing off products is of course nothing new. Autodesk is even named after a dead product (well, stillborn).

Trace back through Autodesk’s history and you’ll see a long and bloody trail of …

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The big Bricsys interview 6 – lean and focused

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. In this post, the dynamic duo explain the mystery of how Bricsys can sell smaller numbers of a more capable product than AutoCAD for a fraction of the cost – and still make money.

Steve: It’s kind of interesting that your product is so much cheaper than AutoCAD, and more capable. They’re making a loss and you’re making increasing profits. How does that work?

Erik: I think it has to do with being lean and being focused. I mean, we’re talking about Autodesk, and we’re talking about AutoCAD and Revit and Inventor, but did you have a look at all the products they have? The managers that have to work on those products… I don’t study the detail of their annual figures, but I think it’s …

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The big Bricsys interview 5 – perpetual licensing and choice

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh.

In this post, Erik confirms the Bricsys commitment to perpetual licensing. That’s a statement important enough to preserve, so here’s the recorded audio for posterity.

We also learn what proportion of CAD customers choose perpetual licenses over rental when given fair pricing and the choice. Hint to Autodesk: it’s not 0%.

Steve: Are you committed to the perpetual licensing model?

Erik: Yes, yes. We are committed to choice. If somebody wants another way of licensing our stuff, that’s fine as well. I mean you can hire our stuff, you can pay per month, it’s possible.

Steve: That’s not in all markets, is it?

Erik: We don’t promote it, but it’s possible if somebody contacts us, no problem. It’s choice, and we believe …

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Clearing up the Autodesk rental / subscription / maintenance naming confusion

Some people are confused by Autodesk’s naming terminology about subscription, maintenance and rental. This is entirely Autodesk’s fault, because it took a name (Subscription) which had a long-established meaning (including perpetual licensing) and used that name (but without its initial capital) to mean the opposite (no perpetual licensing).

There was a brief period, only last year, where the S word meant both things at the same time and differentiation between the opposing meanings was achieved using different prefixes.

Confused yet?

I’m not sure whether it’s kinder to view Autodesk doing something so obviously confusing as merely incompetence in communication or a deliberate attempt to confuse and deceive customers and/or the share market. Or maybe it was an inspired choice and I’m too obtuse to comprehend its genius. Choose whichever explanation you prefer.

In an attempt to clear things up, but at the risk of confusing matters further, Autodesk’s naming history …

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The big Bricsys interview 4 – thank you, Autodesk

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. In this post, we learn that Autodesk’s move to all-rental has helped drive BricsCAD sales higher and continues to do so.

Cyrena: Backing up just a step to sales, were you able to track any impact on your sales numbers with the chronology of Autodesk’s announcements of ending perpetual? Did you see an effect that you could map to that?

Erik/Mark (together): Yes.

Erik: We see that especially with large companies. I hear it from Mark always!

Mark: That’s what I wanted to explain this morning too, although we have an indirect sales channel, we have our resellers at work out there, especially with the large deals, we are involved always. So there’s always one of our guys, a business development manager together with the local …

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