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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Minority interest in keep-your-perpetual Autodesk subscription idea

It’s undeniable that the vast majority of Autodesk’s customers don’t want to give up their perpetual licenses to sign up with Autodesk’s subscription (rental) model. I’ve gone through the evidence for this in an earlier post.

To bring that up to date a little, here are the final results from the poll “Autodesk is ending the sale of perpetual licenses. This is: (Good/Bad)”:

People are clearly attached to their perpetual licenses, regardless of what Autodesk does to manipulate prices.

A while ago I floated the idea that Autodesk might possibly come up with a better offer; one that lets you keep your existing non-upgraded perpetual license when signing up for subscription. I wanted to …

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Dissecting Dieter’s perpetual points

I like Dieter Schlaepfer, we’ve been arguing for years.

Dieter and I have never met in person, but online we go back to the CIS:ACAD CompuServe days of the early 1990s. Dieter’s a good guy who has done a splendid job with AutoCAD documentation content for decades. He is genuinely interested in improving the product and customer experience, and has done a great deal to do so over the years.

Dieter’s responsible for the most-commented post on this blog, AutoCAD 2013 – An Autodesk Help writer responds with 164 comments and was a heavy contributor to the 95 comments on the recent AutoCAD 2018 – why did the DWG format change? post.

If you read the comments here, you’ll know that Dieter is the only Autodesk person brave enough to put his head above the parapet and enter into …

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You can still buy Autodesk perpetual licenses in Europe

Yes, you really can still buy Autodesk perpetual licenses in the European Union. You just can’t buy them from Autodesk.

Where can you buy those licenses? From other customers who don’t need them any more. Unlike some jurisdictions, the EU respects the doctrine of first sale for computer software. This means sale of pre-owned software is allowed, and any EULA restrictions attempting to prevent that are invalid. This was established in 2012 by the EU’s highest court, The Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU) in the case of UsedSoft v Oracle.

Autodesk and all other software vendors in EU countries have to respect that, so the perpetual license remains valid after transfer to the new owner. The previous owner must be able to document the validity of the license and must delete or disable their copy of the software upon transfer.

While I have no personal experience of …

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Autodesk customers are still revolting

I described before how customers are outraged by Autodesk’s attempt to price-force them onto subscription (rental). That’s still happening. The Autodesk Community forum moderators are still vacuuming up threads and Ideas submissions and moving them to the Moving to Subscription forum, which despite its obscurity is still active with some threads now having hundreds of posts.

Other discussions in various non-Autodesk locations are extending over many pages of comments. Almost all comments are highly critical of Autodesk. A large portion of these customers say they are abandoning Autodesk. Many are discussing the specific competitors’ software they are moving to.

In addition to the Autodesk forum staff confining commentary to a quiet corner, another way of keeping the public noise down is by directing people to talk to their resellers. Yesterday, I did just that. The rep who …

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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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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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A series of Autodesk statements

Here are some statements from Autodesk about not having any plans to do some things. Things that the more paranoid among us suspected were always in the pipeline. Things that seemed to be just joining the dots along a predictable path Autodesk appeared to be taking. Things that later ended up happening. But nevertheless things that were, apparently, unplanned.

Simplified Upgrade Pricing FAQ, July 2009:

Autodesk does not currently have any plans to eliminate upgrades or cross-grades or make Autodesk Subscription* mandatory.

Callan Carpenter, May 2010:

…we are still perpetual, plus Subscription* or maintenance. I don’t see that changing. It’s hard to predict 50 years into the future, but we have no plans for that.

Carl Bass, August 2013:

Because we’re starting in a different place than Adobe, we don’t feel the need to force people, as they …

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Autodesk perpetual license owners to get screwed big-time

Hidden in amongst a bunch of the usual highly dubious subscription statements from Carl Bass is an announcement that spells doom for Autodesk perpetual license owners. I will resist the temptation to skewer Carl’s spin (for now) because this announcement is much more important:

Bass also confirmed that the company plans to converge the two existing subscription models — maintenance and product subscriptions — into a single offering over the next two years. “If you look out to fiscal year 2020, we want to be in a place where, first of all, we have a single kind of offering with a single back office and infrastructure to support it, one that will be a combination of product subscriptions as you see them plus a consumption model on top of it. That’s where we see the business heading.

“Along the way, it’s how do we motivate customers to …

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Autodesk excludes maintenance customers from AutoCAD 2017.1 update (Edit: actually, it doesn’t)

Edit: it turns out that when Autodesk said this was subscription-only, that wasn’t true. See my later post for details.

A mid-term update containing a bunch of useful stuff, AutoCAD 2017.1 is the first update made available exclusively to subscription customers (renters). I’d love to tell you about how great this update is, but I can’t because I’m not allowed to use it.

If you’ve been a loyal customer of Autodesk for 30 years and have paid countless thousands for your software, upgrades and Subscription (now called maintenance) over those years, even if you are right now still paying maintenance to keep that software up to date, Autodesk is rewarding that loyalty by waving a virtual digit in your general direction. If you’re not a renter, you’re now officially a second class customer.

Autodesk is going to progressively hammer in a wedge to try to separate …

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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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When is a global offer not a global offer?

Confusion reigned yesterday when my post on Autodesk’s “FY17 Q3 Global Field Promotion” assumed that Global meant what it said, and the offer made to me in Australia was the same as in other countries. That was a mistaken assumption, and I have updated the post to reflect that; my apologies for the confusion.

That said, it was a not entirely unreasonable assumption given the superficial similarity between offers worldwide and the following in Autodesk’s fine print in multiple global Autodesk sites:

Offer available from 7 August 2016 through 21 October 2016 worldwide with the exception of the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria

The situation is not that simple. There are two very different offers that look the same at first glance. People in some countries get a much better offer than others. The offer I discussed in yesterday’s post allows you …

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Autodesk’s mixed rental and perpetual license offer

If you’re on Autodesk’s mailing list you have no doubt been receiving increasingly desperate offers aimed at tempting you into renting your software. None of those have really been worth a mention, but the latest Autodesk FY17 Q3 Global Field Promotion for Asia Pacific contains something noteworthy. It acknowledges the value of perpetual licenses and allows you to retain yours. Don’t get too excited though, it does not apply in other regions and only allows you to retain your old  license. Anything new is still rental-only.

Here’s how the offer works. Let’s say you have an old copy of AutoCAD lying around. This acts as a magic token allowing you access to cheaper rental. Autodesk halves the cost of a 3-year subscription (rental) of pretty much anything (doesn’t have to be AutoCAD, it could be something much bigger) and your old AutoCAD perpetual license remains unaffected. You can …

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How do I know most Autodesk customers don’t want rental?

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.
  • There’s a poll right here. How’s it going?
  • None of …

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Disaster in progress – Autodesk continues to lose heavily

This post originally contained assertions about Autodesk’s financials that were based on flawed understanding, and has been removed. It’s not really possible to delete things from the Internet, so if you ever want to relive the joy of seeing me get things spectacularly wrong, feel free to use the Internet Archive to do so.

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Disaster in progress – Autodesk’s all-rental plans are failing

This post originally contained assertions about Autodesk’s financials that were based on flawed understanding, and has been removed. It’s not really possible to delete things from the Internet, so if you ever want to relive the joy of seeing me get things spectacularly wrong, feel free to use the Internet Archive to do so.

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