It always amuses me when people proclaim a rising technology as not just promising, but the way of the future that will inevitably take over. Anybody can see that’s the way things are heading, they say. No use fighting it. Don’t question the certainty of the forthcoming tech revolution, you Luddite! It’s a sea change, resistance is futile, get on board now or be swept away on the flood waters of progress.
What a load of bollocks.
What really surprises me is when people who are old enough to know better join in with this sort of thing. Those of us who have been around a while have seen many “inevitable” technological revolutions dry up and fizzle out, some more than once. It gets old.
Remember a few short years ago when touchscreens were going to be part of everybody’s desktop setup as ubiquitous as the mouse? I do, but … Full post →
How does he go? On a positive note, top marks for creative writing! The general theme is a strained and somewhat Californian analogy in which perpetual licenses are like canned goods (bad), and rental is like fresh produce (good). However, it’s presented well and professionally written. Among the highlights are:
Perpetual software licenses are like high-fructose corn syrup – no, I’m not making this up. Stop laughing at the back there!
This is a change that is simply a better experience for everyone – everyone who … Full post →
I’d like to thank Steve for the opportunity to write this guest post. My post doesn’t necessarily represent Steve, nor does it represent any company. It’s strictly a personal point of view. The purpose of this post is to prompt discussion and debate, and get your opinion.
Recent discussion on this blog has focused on Autodesk and its many changes over the past few years (upgrade pricing, policy changes, term-only aka rental licenses, move to the cloud, etc.), and there’s been a lot of skepticism. If we stand back and look at the landscape, though, Autodesk is not alone. True, they’re moving faster and more aggressively than their competitors, but many software companies are making similar changes.
Change can be disruptive, it can have positive and negative impact, and there can be winners and losers. But … it’s inevitable, and it’s better to understand change than to fight it. To … Full post →
In a recent comment, I was asked how I know Autodesk’s move to all-rental is the opposite of what customers want. Have I conducted research? This is an excellent question and deserves a proper answer.
So how do I know this? Why am I so convinced? There are several independent sources of evidence, one bit of critical thinking and one undeniable proof. They all point in the same direction. First, a bit of evidence.
There are many public places on the Internet where this issue has been discussed, including Autodesk’s own discussion groups. The viewpoints expressed everywhere are overwhelmingly against Autodesk’s all-rental plans.
There are private places Autodesk customers hang out where I have access, and I receive private emails. Again, the overwhelmingly majority of the viewpoints I see expressed are very strongly against Autodesk’s strategy.
In my last post, I gave Bentley a well-deserved slap for, er, saying things that perhaps weren’t entirely factual. Now it’s Autodesk’s turn.
What’s this about? Carl White, Senior Director of Business Models at Autodesk, wrote a blog post Not so fast Bentley: Separating fact from fiction responding to statements made by Bentley in its press release Bentley Announces Autodesk License Upgrade Program. Some of Carl’s observations on Bentley’s claims were perfectly valid, but unfortunately he went beyond that and wrote a few more things – “facts” – where he’s on shakier ground. Let’s examine Carl’s interpretation of reality, shall we?
Fact #1 – No Autodesk customer ever loses the right to use the perpetual software license you’ve purchased, it is “evergreen”.
This is generally true. There are exceptions (read the EULA), but let’s not split hairs. In the vast majority of cases, we don’t … Full post →
Earlier this week, Bentley announced an “upgrade program” for Autodesk customers. We found the offer to be disingenuous and mischaracterizes what Autodesk offers our customers.
OK, let’s have a look at what Carl is complaining about. Here’s one Bentley statement that could be considered questionable:
For consideration by owners of Autodesk perpetual licenses facing Autodesk’s imminent deadline for the write-off of the future value of their investment, Bentley Systems is offering recovery of the value otherwise subject to forfeit.
Carl has a point here. The “imminent deadline for the write-off of the future value” line is presented as fact, but at this stage it’s … Full post →
Do you own your home or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why?
Do you own your car or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why?
Do you own your TV or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why?
Do you own your computer or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why?
If you’re like me, you answered the same for most or all of those questions. I own all of the above and rent none of it. I prefer owning all of the above. Why? Three Cs:
Continuity. If I own my home, there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll be able to go on living in it as long as I like. There are exceptions (wars, natural disasters, etc.), but ownership is generally much safer than renting if it’s … Full post →
It’s probably unwise to make predictions about what is going to happen in technology. If so, I’m about to be unwise. So be it; if I’m wrong you can taunt me about this post in a few years. Here’s my prediction:
Autodesk’s attempt to move CAD users onto the Cloud is doomed to failure.
This is the first of a series of posts that will examine what I mean by that and the reasons behind it. The first thing that’s important to lay out is what I mean by failure. What I mean is that reality will not match Autodesk’s expectation of what will happen with its products moving to the Cloud. What expectation is that?
I’d say two to three years from now, every one of our products will be used online. The only way to use them will be online.
In a recent post on Between the Lines, Shaan passed on the following response from the AutoCAD Team:
There has been some recent discussions about the built-in help system in AutoCAD 2013, both positive and some criticism. As our longtime users know, AutoCAD help has been through many evolutions.
We are particularly proud of the new AutoCAD 2013 online learning environment we recently released (AutoCAD Online Help Mid-Year Updates.) This update addressed several user requested fixes and changes, and we will continue to take our direction from our user’s feedback.
We do recognize that the online learning environment may not be the solution for every user, so while we are focused on creating a rich and personalized online experience, we will continue to maintain our current basic offline experience.
(The emphasis is mine). This statement, although couched in marketingspeak, confirms what I’ve had to say on the subject. … Full post →
In my effusive welcome of AutoCAD 2013’s updated Help system, I wondered if I had been shocked into missing some glaring problem. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. In my enthusiasm, I managed to totally miss the fact that the new system has not been introduced for offline users.
If you use the new system, there’s a link on the front page to the offline files. I got as far as downloading and installing what I thought was the offline version of the new system and discovered that it didn’t want to install because the old one was already installed. What I should have then done, and didn’t, was to uninstall the old and install the new, before running it in offline mode. I intended to get around to that to check the performance and responsiveness of the respective versions, but didn’t have the time right then. … Full post →
Some months ago, I gave Autodesk severaldamngood (and thoroughly well-deserved) thrashings over its hopelessly inadequate AutoCAD 2013 Help system. When Autodesk’s Dieter Schlaepfer responded and asked for feedback, he sure got it. There are 142 comments on that one post to date, most of them leaving nobody under any illusions about how short of the mark the new system was.
There is now an updated version of the AutoCAD 2013 Help system. It has been an interminably long time coming, a fact made far worse by Autodesk’s stubborn refusal to provide a CHM stopgap (which could have easily been done on the ship date with minimal resources if the will had been there), but at least an update is here now. Is it any good, though?
I’ve seen fit to give the online version of the … Full post →
Service Pack 1 for AutoCAD 2013 has been temporarily removed due to a newly discovered fatal error. The AutoCAD team is actively working on resolving this and a new service pack will be posted here as soon as it is available.
This is the sort of thing that Beta testing is supposed to prevent, but in this case it obviously didn’t. Somebody in a position of influence at Autodesk needs to investigate whether this is just a freak one-off, or if there is some systemic weakness within the Beta testing program.
One of the supposed benefits of Cloud software is that there are no updates for users to worry about. It’s all taken care of on the vendor’s server and you’re always using the most up to date version. OK, now … Full post →
This is a departure from the usual subject matter of this blog, but one of the advantages of running my own blog is that I can write what I like on it. This post does have a mention of AutoCAD, but it’s so minor and marginal it’s probably not going to interest many of my usual readers.
Now the Olympics are over and a video has been made globally available, I’m going to discuss what happened in the Women’s Epee semi-final between South Korea’s Shin A-Lam and Germany’s Britta Heidemann. The image of Shin sitting disconsolate and alone on the piste, in white on a black background, is one of the iconic images of the London 2012 Olympics. It was replayed at the closing ceremony. Besides making for ‘good’ television, it’s one of the human stories that go to make the Games more than just a vehicle to sell junk food. I’m driven … Full post →
Autodesk wants your input again in its annual API survey. This used to be a closed survey for Autodesk Developer Network (ADN) members, but has been open to all for the last few years. If you do any AutoCAD-based development at all, I encourage you to take part. That includes those of us who do most of our development in LISP.
Here’s the direct link to the survey. As you can see if you click the link, there’s a lot of stuff in there that assumes you’re keen to get developing for AutoCAD WS. If you’re not quite so filled with Cloudy enthusiasm and would prefer Autodesk to expend its resources elsewhere (on fixing and improving Visual LISP, for example), please fill in the short survey and say so. It closes on 22 June, so you only have a week.
A blog post from BIM person Gregory Arkin contains a number of confidently-made statements about what Autodesk intends to do with its upgrade and Subscription pricing model. If the information is correct, the news is all bad for customers. The prices for both upgrade and Subscription are getting jacked up substantially. In fact, for upgraders the pricing (70% of full whack for the cheapest upgrade) will be completely non-viable and you’ll effectively be forced onto Subscription. This goes beyond the trebling ofupgrade prices that Autodesk’s Callan Carpenter spent some time defending here two years ago. The link in that post to the relevant Autodesk page doesn’t contain any pricing specifics other than the vague statement “save up to 20%”, but I’ll take Gregory’s word for it.
Gregory sees this business of upgraders being hunted to extinction as something that Subscription customers should have … Full post →
…for some things. The other day, I amused myself by creating a video using a site called Xtranormal. You’ve probably seen 3D cartoon-like videos of people with stilted voices. It’s done by signing up for a free account, choosing a background and some characters, then typing in your script. This is converted, generally fairly successfully, to spoken words. The characters lip-sync to your script, you publish the video and you’re done. If you have a YouTube account, the site will upload the video for you. Video creation service provided on line, video hosting and viewing service provided on line. No problem.
Here it is; this blog’s readership is not the intended audience, so you probably won’t find it particularly amusing.
Could the video creation have been done using a standalone application rather than doing it on line? Absolutely. It may well have been quicker on … Full post →
One promoted benefit Software as a Service is that you are always up to date. There are no local applications to install and maintain. You don’t need to go through expensive and disruptive annual updates and/or install service packs or hotfixes; all this is taken care of for you. The latest and greatest software is always automatically available to you, and because everybody is always using the same version, there will be no compatibility issues. You won’t need to worry about your OS being compatible with the latest release, either. Bugs, if not exactly a thing of the past, will be quickly taken care of without you even being aware of them.
This is something you all want, right? What could possibly be wrong with this picture?
It’s probably worth pointing out that if you you have no problem emailing your designs around the place without some form of protection or encryption, there’s little point in getting all worked up about Cloud security. Email isn’t remotely secure. FTP isn’t exactly watertight, either. If you’re still interested in Cloud security issues, this post includes some relevant links you might like to peruse.
First, here’s what Autodesk’s Scott Sheppard had to say about Project Photofly (now 123D Catch Beta) security last month: Project Photofly FAQ: What about the security of my data? This covers some of the same kind of stuff I’ve already discussed, but from an Autodesk point of view (albeit a pretty transparent and honest one, as you might expect from Scott). Here are some selected quotes:
In essence, we don’t want to accept liability when we don’t take money…
Using any software involves some degree of trust in the vendor. Using the Cloud requires a much higher level of trust.
Autodesk boss Carl Bass is a maker of carefully crafted things, so I’ll use that as an analogy. Using standalone software requires the sort of trust that a maker has in a tool manufacturer. Will the tools work properly and last a long time? Or will they break, potentially damaging the materials or even the user?
Using SaaS requires that same kind of trust, plus others. Will the tool manufacturer keep making that tool? If not, will spare parts continue to be available? Will the manufacturer change the tool design so it doesn’t suit your hand any more, or doesn’t work as well on the materials you use? Beyond that, there are some aspects of the relationship that stretch this analogy somewhat. For example, a SaaS vendor resembles a manufacturer that … Full post →
I have closed the Which of these is most evil? poll, which had been running from 20 February 2009. It attracted 2,351 voters, each of whom could distribute up to three votes among thirteen (yes, that number was deliberate) candidates. Here are the ranked results:
Satan (36%, 846 Votes)
Microsoft (31%, 721 Votes)
Apple (26%, 614 Votes)
RIAA/IFPI/MPAA (26%, 601 Votes)
Miley Cyrus (23%, 546 Votes)
Autodesk (23%, 536 Votes)
Disney (16%, 382 Votes)
Google (10%, 230 Votes)
Dell (7%, 172 Votes)
The Pirate Bay (6%, 147 Votes)
Sony (6%, 140 Votes)
Steve Johnson (4%, 89 Votes)
Gaahl (3%, 82 Votes)
That top three is not going to shock anyone (except perhaps some fanbois), but are some surprises in the list. For example, more than a quarter of voters were aware enough of the evils of Big Content to be able to decipher the alphabet soup RIAA/IFPI/MPAA choice and select it. More than … Full post →