Autodesk starts answering subscription questions, but many remain

Getting worthwhile non-rubbery information out of Autodesk on the maintenance to subscription push has been like pulling teeth. Well, one tooth has popped out now. There are a rotten mouthful still to go, but some progress is being made.

Here is the latest Autodesk communication on this subject. While it gives the impression of providing transparency, there’s still not enough there to provide enough certainty to convince any but the most naive customers to throw away their perpetual licenses. If you try pumping Autodesk’s numbers into my costing spreadsheet, you can get so far and then you’re back to guesswork again. If you guess low, it’s merely a bad deal. If you guess high, it’s an atrocious deal. For you, not for Autodesk; I’m sure Autodesk will be happy with whatever deal it decides to inflict.

There are huge holes in what has been stated that …

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One invitation to Autodesk and another to Autodesk’s competitors

Dear Autodesk PR person, you are undoubtedly aware that I have published a series of posts that detail exactly why switching from maintenance to subscription is a bad deal. If you believe anything I have written to be in error, feel free to contact me with what you believe to be the correct information. I intend to publish an extensive detailed summary on Monday 13 March, with or without your input. You know where to find me, over to you.

Dear Autodesk-competitor PR person, if you are providing any kind of special offer to entice disgruntled Autodesk customers over to your fold under these special circumstances, let me know about it. I will pass the information on to my readers in another post, as-is, and not as any kind of recommendation. You can comment here in public or email me.

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Autodesk customers are revolting

I don’t know what kind of reception Autodesk thought it was going to get to its less-than-fully-frank announcement that it was hiking up the price of maintenance to push perpetual license owners onto subscription (rental).

I suppose some negative feedback was expected, but I’m not sure the marketing mavens would have anticipated such a degree of near-universal outright hostility. I suspect they may have overestimated their ability to pull the wool over the eyes of a community that is generally technically smart and, thanks to Autodesk’s history in recent years, somewhat lacking in trust.

The Autodesk Community forum moderators are busily vacuuming up threads from all over the place and moving them to the near-invisible new Moving to Subscription forum, which in due course will no doubt be made read-only and merged into semi-oblivion, just like the last one.

Despite …

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Welcome to the new bosses…

…same as the old Bass.

If you’re hoping the change at the top of Autodesk is going to result in a change to the all-rental business model, abandon that hope now. In this nodding-heavy video, temporary co-CEOs Amar Hanspal (product guy) and Andrew “Baked Beans” Anagnost (marketing guy) confirm it’s full steam ahead. Not unexpected, really.

If either of these guys is selected as CEO (my money’s on Amar), the rental push will continue. Don’t expect to be saved by an incoming CEO, either. The Autodesk board won’t appoint a non-believer.

If you won’t abandon your perpetual licenses, you’ll need to abandon Autodesk.

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Bullshit Returns – Autodesk maintenance price hike part 2

In this post I continue skewering the welcome post to Autodesk’s Moving to Subscription forum. See here for part 1.

Access to new industry collections – Available only through subscription, you’ll realize significant savings when you need two or more Autodesk software products.

Bullshit. Industry collections are just rental-only engorged suites. Suites are those things with many more than two products; things that Autodesk has been pushing hard for years, before dropping them from the price list. If you already have a suite that contains the products you need (remember, Autodesk’s statements are aimed at existing perpetual license holders), switching to an industry collection will cost you vastly more. That’s the opposite of significant savings.

New and improved support – Enjoy faster response times and the option to receive help by scheduling a call with Autodesk technical support specialists.

It’s just possible this isn’t …

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Bullshit Returns – Autodesk maintenance price hike part 1

Just when you think it’s safe to walk across the cattle enclosure in your best shoes, Autodesk drops another steaming pile of spin for its customers to step into.

Here, I’m skewering the welcome post to Autodesk’s Moving to Subscription forum. However, I believe I should really acknowledge the unnamed author of the Important Updates on Maintenance Plans FAQ, which the welcome post has merely paraphrased for simplicity.

There’s so much bullshit in there that I’m going to split my exploration of it into two posts. Let’s put on some rubber gloves and start delving around in the muck, shall we?

Autodesk believes that subscribing is the best way for our customers to get the greatest value from our tools and technologies

Bullshit. Autodesk believes the opposite, as does anyone else with more than two brain cells to rub together. The whole idea is …

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Chat to Autodesk about being pushed onto rental

I’ll post later about Autodesk’s oftpredictedhere but just-announced plan to use price increases to push you out of your perpetual licenses, and the execrable spin being used to sell it.

This post is just to let you know that Autodesk has kindly provided a forum in which you can discuss this issue. Why not wander over there and have your say? Autodesk is deaf and blind on this subject so it won’t make a difference, but at least you might feel better to have your say and let others know they’re not alone.

Here’s the link to the Moving to Subscription forum. Here’s the welcome message.

Hot tip: keep a text copy of what you have to say. If, as happened before, Autodesk gets heavy with the censorship scissors and slices through your statement, you can repost …

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The Cloud Broke – a poem

The cloud broke
And teardrops fell
On the desks
Of those who fell
For the lure
Of a cloudy hell.


The landlord laughs
To see such fun
Collects his rent
From web he spun
He still gets paid
When things don’t run.


I said t’would be
It’s come to pass
Surprised? Not me
With or without Bass
Autodesk’s cloud
Can kiss this SaaS.

Carl cashing in his chips

Here’s an interesting Carl Bass exit interview with Roopinder Tara at engineering.com. If you’re wondering just how much stock Carl offloaded in those planned sales, here are his reported sales of Autodesk stock in the weeks leading up to the resignation:

  • 11 Jan 2017 $7,894,150
  • 9 Jan 2017 $7,888,768
  • 5 Jan 2017 $7,694,038
  • 23 Dec 2016 $1,971,715
  • 22 Dec 2016 $1,968,935

That’s $27m, give or take. Carl’s reported as having sold over $49m of Autodesk stock over the last three years.

While Carl still has tens of millions of Autodesk stock, dumping that much of it before leaving doesn’t strike me as the actions of someone as supremely confident in the future of Autodesk’s ailing cloud push and rent-or-go-away business model as his words would suggest.

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The next Autodesk CEO – polls

Here, have some fun by voting in these polls. Idea shamelessly stolen from Paul Munford on Twitter.

Who do you want to be the next Autodesk CEO?

  • Amar Hanspal (18%, 32 Votes)
  • Andrew Anagnost (12%, 21 Votes)
  • Jeff Kowalski (7%, 13 Votes)
  • Amy Bunzel (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Other Autodesk person (5%, 8 Votes)
  • Elon Musk (28%, 50 Votes)
  • Other outsider (27%, 48 Votes)

Total Voters: 176

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Who do you think will be the next Autodesk CEO?

  • Amar Hanspal (41%, 53 Votes)
  • Andrew Anagnost (8%, 11 Votes)
  • Jeff Kowalski (11%, 14 Votes)
  • Amy Bunzel (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Other Autodesk person (5%, 7 Votes)
  • Elon Musk (11%, 14 Votes)
  • Other outsider (22%, 29 Votes)

Total Voters: 130

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Another series of Autodesk statements

Having established what happens when Autodesk claims to have no plans to do nasty anti-customer things, (it goes ahead and does them), let’s examine another nasty anti-customer thing it hasn’t got around to doing. Yet.

Will Autodesk discontinue the maintenance program that allows customers to keep their perpetual licenses up to date? Let’s see what Autodesk has been prepared to put in writing so far:

There are no announced plans to end maintenance subscriptions.

Matt DiMichele, August 2015, Autodesk Community Perpetual License Changes forum

Hmm, we all know what “no plans” means, don’t we, children?

I assure you we have no plan to discontinue maintenance subscription plans for existing perpetual license owners.

Andrew Anagnost, September 2015, Cadalyst interview with Robert Green

“We have no plan” again, eh? That’s a concern.

Our lawyers frown on me using words like “never.” Do we have …

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CAD on the Cloud – available anytime, anywhere except when it isn’t

One of the multiple reasons Autodesk has failed to win over the masses to its Cloudy CAD vision is fear of unreliability. Anything that relies on using somebody else’s computer over the Internet adds potential points of failure to those already there on a standalone desktop system. These additional vulnerabilities include:

  • Your browser or thin client software fails
  • Your modem, cabling or other Internet connectivity hardware fails
  • Your Internet service provider has an outage
  • Malware or DDOS attacks on your domain or service
  • Governmental Internet service interference
  • Internet connectivity infrastructure failure
  • Malware or DDOS attacks on vendor domain or service
  • Cloud vendor infrastructure disaster
  • Cloud-based CAD software down for maintenance

I voiced my concerns about this in 2011, but technology has moved on since then and surely things are running as smooth as can be these days, right? Most computer users use Cloud services …

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Return of the bullshit – baked beans edition

In an October 2015 post I’ve only just noticed, snappily titled No More Software Like a Can of Baked Beans: Why Software Subscription Serves It Up Fresh, Autodesk VP (edit – now CEO) Andrew Anagnost bravely attempts to sell Autodesk’s move to all-rental software. This is a rather belated response, but fortunately there is no statute of limitations on skewering spin so let’s get started.

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 …

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Autodesk to pull the plug on 123D

The reason you should never rely on SaaS for anything important is that, well, you just can’t rely on it. If the software breaks, or the vendor goes under, or decides that line’s not profitable enough, or just loses interest, you’re screwed. More importantly, you’re screwed on a timeframe that’s out of your control, and probably much shorter than you would like. You can’t just go on using the software until you’re ready to move on, like you can with perpetual licenses.

Thanks for the latest lesson, Autodesk, regarding 123D:

Over the past few years, millions of people have unlocked their creativity with the Autodesk 123D apps and community. We’ve grown from one desktop tool in 2011 to multiple apps across desktop, web, and mobile.
 
We’re incredibly proud of these products, and even more proud of what you all have MADE with them. But we …

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BricsCAD startup LISP bug fixed

In my previous post I have a real problem with BricsCAD, I related my then-latest interaction with the Bricsys support system:

Steve Johnson
05-12-2016 05:30 UTC

I don’t know if this is a BricsCAD problem or a DOSLib one, so I am reporting it to both Bricsys and Dale at McNeel. I’m also not sure if this was happening in earlier versions.

If I load DOSLib during an S::STARTUP call and then use the (dos_msgbox) function later in that call, this fails the first time round because BricsCAD things the function is not defined. Opening a second drawing results in the call working as expected. I’ve chopped down our startup routine so you have an example.

; error : no function definition ; expected FUNCTION at [eval]

Awesome Bricsys Person
05-12-2016 12:32 UTC

Hi Steve,

There was a regression introduced in V17.1.10 that caused …

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I have a real problem with BricsCAD

To be precise, I have a real problem with writing  about BricsCAD. I’ve written some pretty complimentary things about BricsCAD lately. In the interests of balance, I’ve been intending to write about some of the issues people can expect to deal with when moving from AutoCAD to BricsCAD. Such issues certainly exist. The problem I have with that is that the issues keep going away!

Here’s how it usually goes. I find a problem in BricsCAD. I submit a support request. Within hours, I get a meaningful response from a person who understands the issue. Within days, I’m informed it’s been fixed internally and the fix will be in the next update. Within a week or two, that update is released. I download and install the updated version. It’s basically a full reinstall, but all settings are seamlessly retained and it’s faster and less painful than an AutoCAD Service Pack …

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Autodesk Answer Day – 27 October 2016

Autodesk is holding another Answer Day to encourage you to use the Autodesk Community (discussion forums). Hop along and get answers to your questions (hopefully), because this is a special day where Autodesk people will attend and be responsive.

Here is the announcement. When is this event, exactly?

Join us on Thursday, Oct 27th from 6:00am to 6:00pm Pacific Time.

Autodesk, if you’re promoting a “global event”, please try to remember that the globe extends beyond the West Coast of America and include UTC (GMT) times in your announcements. Most of us know where our time zones are in relation to UTC, but seeing something listed only in Pacific Time is likely to mean we have to head off to a site like timeanddate.com or thetimenow.com to work it out.

To save you all the effort, Pacific Time is currently UTC -7 …

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When is a subscription-only update not a subscription-only update?

Before I get started, I want to clarify the meaning of the word ‘subscription’. For about 15 years, the word Subscription (note the initial capital) meant something specific for Autodesk customers. It meant you had bought a perpetual license and instead of paying for periodical updates, you paid for a year’s Subscription in advance. In allowed access to any new release that appeared during that year plus various other benefits.

That thing that was once called ‘Subscription’ has now been renamed ‘maintenance’ (no initial capital) in Autodeskspeak. So what does ‘subscription’ (no initial capital) mean? Rental. You pay in advance for use of the product for a period and when you stop paying, you stop using the product. This is now the only way to obtain Autodesk software you don’t already own. In addition to access to any new release that appears during the subscription period, it provides other benefits …

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Any BricsCAD users out there? v.2016

Back in 2010 I asked the question Any BricsCAD users out there? and there were a few of you who had tried to replace AutoCAD with BricsCAD. Most who responded had made the change successfully, others not so much.

Six years on, the situation is different. The fact that you can’t buy a permanent AutoCAD license any more has prompted some Autodesk customers to look more seriously at alternative vendors who do provide that option. Bricsys is one of those vendors, and their DWG-based AutoCAD alternative BricsCAD has improved way more rapidly than AutoCAD over the same time period. No, that isn’t a guess, I’ve been keeping an active eye on things. BricsCAD today is by no means perfect, but it’s impressive in many ways. LISP compatibility and performance are excellent, for example. BricsCAD v16 superior to the also imperfect AutoCAD 2017 in several …

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Battle of the Bullshit part 4 – Bentley tells the truth

Behold, the latest episode in the Autodesk versus Bentley PR battle over perpetual licenses versus rental!

Bentley has issued a response to Autodesk’s response to Bentley’s response to Autodesk’s move to all-rental software. This is entitled Bentley Responds to Autodesk – You Have a Choice. I have already dissected Bentley’s and Autodesk’s previous responses and found neither of them entirely truthful.

So, how does the latest effort from Bentley shape up? Very well. It’s pretty much spot-on for accuracy. There’s nothing that could be described as disingenuous, misleading, or even exaggerated. I encourage you to read it and make up your own mind.

Bentley PR also invited me in on a press conference call, having first invited my questions. Although I was unable to take part in that call, I have listened to a recording of the event and that was similarly …

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