As I reported early last year, Autodesk is going to discourage you from paying for upgrades as and when you see fit. It is doing this by charging you 50% of the cost of a full license to upgrade from the previous release. The same 50% cost will apply if you crossgrade [edit: crossgrade from an non-current release, that is] (say if you move from AutoCAD to a vertical). If your product is more than three releases old, you can’t upgrade. This change takes effect from 16 March 2010. There were some discounted upgrade offers to get you signed over early, but these have now expired. If you are thinking of upgrading or crossgrading, I suggest you contact your reseller, get out your calculator and consider doing it in the next few weeks.
There is some laughable doublespeak in the Autodesk marketing of this change, such as “streamlining our upgrade pricing based on feedback from customers and resellers,” but I can’t imagine anyone being fooled by such nonsense. It’s obvious that Autodesk is not doing this because you all asked for upgrade prices to be trebled to make a nice predictable percentage, it’s doing this to force upgraders on to Subscription. Once you’re on Subscription, you’re paying a year in advance for an upgrade (bonus cashflow!), and you’re something of a captive market, theoretically providing Autodesk with a more regular source of income. (The financial crisis has knocked something of a dent in that theory, as many companies have chosen not to renew subscriptions for products that were previously used by now-retrenched employees).
If you’re already on Subscription, you may be feeling pretty smug right now. Don’t be. Once Autodesk’s user base is effectively converted to the Subscription model, Autodesk will be free to do all sorts of things to that user base. Things like jacking up Subscription prices, reducing or eliminating existing Subscription services, and slipping little clauses into the EULA so you’re “agreeing” that you will lose your license if you stop paying your annual fees. You may be able to think of other things that you won’t like but which will benefit Autodesk shareholders. Maybe not, because Autodesk is too nice to its customers? Maybe I’m just cynical? Then again, if a couple of years ago I had suggested that Autodesk would treble (sorry, “simplify”) upgrade prices, more than a few would have thought I was paranoid.
Autodesk’s various little Subscription carrots have had limited success among its customers, so now it’s time for the big stick. In effect, Autodesk is encouraging you to get on Subscription or get out. What to do? Jump off the upgrade/Subscription train altogether and stick with what you have? Upgrade once now and stick there indefinitely? Upgrade every 3 years? Buy a new license every 6 to 10 years? Hang on and hope Autodesk introduces an upgrade amnesty in a few years? Move over to one of Autodesk’s competitors? My guess is that a large majority of us are going to just do as we’re directed and get onto Subscription.
I’d like to hear from you. What are you going to do, and why? If you’re on Subscription already, are you concerned about what Autodesk might do in the future?
Disclosure: I manage several dozen Autodesk licences for a large organisation which has been on Subscription for quite a few years.