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 … Full post

Last chance to buy Autodesk software – should you take it?

If, like me, you’ve been receiving increasingly eager Autodesk emails urging you to action, you’ll already be aware that Autodesk will end the sale of its last remaining perpetual license software lines on 31 July 2016. The End Time has already arrived for AutoCAD, so the only way you can now buy any form of AutoCAD perpetual license is as part of a Suite, and you must also commit to a maintenance plan. Of course, any Suite is substantially more expensive than AutoCAD, both in terms of initial cost and ongoing maintenance fees. However, if you only buy software and … Full post

Suites to be replaced by Autodesk industry collections

I just got this email. Maybe you did too:

Dear Christopher [sic],
I have some important information to share with you.
As we continue our transition to a fully subscription-based business, we remain committed to providing you greater value, more flexibility, and a simpler way to access the Autodesk software you need.
On August 1, 2016, we will introduce Autodesk industry collections and end the sale of Autodesk Design & Creation Suites.
Industry collections will provide you access to a wide selection of the essential Autodesk software for … Full post

Autodesk edges towards taking money for Cloud services

In an email to Subscription customers, Autodesk made several announcements about its Autodesk 360 Cloud services.

  • Subscription users now get 25 GB per seat of Cloud storage, up from 3 GB. Non-Subscription users who create an Autodesk 360 account get 3 GB. The intent here, as with the trebling of upgrade costs, is to get you hooked on Subscription so you become a permanent revenue stream.
  • More services are now available, apparently, but the list of services looks about the same to me. The table that lists which services are available for which products can be found here. If … Full post
  • Not answering the question

    Here in Australia, we’re in election mode, so I have even more reasons to avoid watching TV. On those occasions when I do watch it, I am often annoyed by what I see. This is not a novel observation, but one of the things that annoys me about many politicians is their habit of sidestepping questions when interviewed. It also annoys me when interviewers fail to follow up these non-answers and let them slide. Depending on the circumstances (e.g. limited timeframe, more important questions to ask, etc.), there may be valid reasons for journalists failing to chase after legitimate answers … Full post

    Autodesk’s Callan Carpenter responds to Subscription follow-up

    You may remember a month ago I raised the question What proportion of Autodesk customers really are on Subscription? Shortly after that, I sent Autodesk Subscription VP Callan Carpenter these questions following up on the interview:

    I have a request for follow-up information arising from this interview. I hope you can find the time to provide some answers.

    Preamble: Several people have called into doubt your assertion that the simplified upgrade policy affects only a tiny minority of your customers (you seemed to imply a figure of around 3% non-Subscription customers, with 1.5% who upgrade within a year or … Full post

    What proportion of Autodesk customers really are on Subscription?

    In my recent interview of Autodesk Subscription VP Callan Carpenter, he made these statements:

    …there is a very small fraction of our revenue that comes from upgrades at this point in time.

    We’re down to very low single digits of customers who upgrade, and of those only half of those upgrade 1 or 2 years back. So we’re talking about approximately 1.5% of our revenue that comes from customers upgrading 1 and 2 versions back.

    …[customers who upgrade] 1 or 2 [releases] back, a very small percentage of our customer base, less than 2% of our customer base that … Full post

    Callan Carpenter interview 5 – the 12 month cycle

    This 5th post concludes the Callan Carpenter interview series. For the record, this interview was done in real time over the phone, with no prior notice of the questions.

    SJ: The 12-month cycle that you have for most of your software has come under some criticism from all sorts of people, especially me. Once you have your customer base practically all on Subscription, what’s the incentive for the 12-month cycle to persist?

    CC: In what way have you criticised the 12 month cycle?

    SJ: In that it damages the product. In that there’s not enough time to release a properly … Full post

    Callan Carpenter interview 4 – enhancing the program

    Part 4 of 5 in this series.

    SJ: There is always the fear that once you have all of your customer base on Subscription, you’re not going to need to offer those benefits any more. Can you assure people that that’s not going to be the case, that you are going to keep being “nice” to your customers?

    CC: Absolutely. I think my team and I spend as much time and brain energy trying to figure out how to enhance the program as anything else. Our goal is to make Subscription a compelling value proposition; to make it not only … Full post

    Callan Carpenter interview 3 – the cost of complexity

    Part 3 of 5 in this series.

    SJ: In one of my blog posts, I was pretty cynical about one of the phrases used in the press release: “the streamlining of upgrade pricing based on feedback from customers and resellers”. Was I wrong to be cynical about that? Did your customers really ask for upgrade prices to be increased to some nice round number?

    CC: What our customers have asked for is simplified purchasing. We have a very complex price book and it leads to thousands of prices items, maybe tens of thousands when you have all the permutations across … Full post

    Callan Carpenter interview 2 – upgrades a tiny minority

    Part 2 of 5 in this series.

    SJ: Is there anything specific you want to say about what I have written in my blog?

    CC: There are a number of things we can do to put Subscription questions and Simplified Upgrade Pricing into context. I think the first thing we need to recognise is that there is a very small fraction of our revenue that comes from upgrades at this point in time. For the last 8 years or so, our customers have fairly well self-selected to either prefer to be on Subscription and have the latest version and technology … Full post

    Filling the holes in Autodesk’s CHM Help stopgap

    It was good to see Autodesk react to criticism of AutoCAD 2011’s browser-based Help with an acknowledgement of the problems and an attempt to provide a workaround by making a zip file of CHM files available for download. That’s much better than ignoring people’s concerns, denying the validity of those concerns or shooting the messenger, which has been known to happen in the past.

    However, there are some holes in the workaround, only some of which can be filled.

    • Under 64-bit Windows 7, the Search pane is blank, as it is in the CHM Help for earlier releases … Full post

    Autodesk Subscription – it could be worse

    I’m still looking for your questions about Autodesk Subscription and upgrade policies and pricing. No matter what you think about that, you have to admit that Autodesk’s current policies are less anti-customer than those inflicted on SolidWorks users.

    Disallowing bug fixes for non-subscription customers is reprehensible, no matter what kind of spin is put on it. Not only that, it’s clueless. So you’re annoyed at Autodesk for whatever reason and are looking for alternative software from a company that doesn’t mistreat its customers? You know not to even bother looking at SolidWorks, don’t you?

    Edit: … Full post

    Downloading AutoCAD 2011

    Apparently, AutoCAD 2011 has been available for download for the best part of a day.

    Here’s my experience so far. As a Subscription customer, I can see a bright new Get Your Upgrade button, and if I click on that I get an AutoCAD 2011 English link to click on. So far so good. If I click on that link, I get only this:

    Error Message
    You are currently not authorized to download from this Account.

    I have contacted my reseller to try to work out what is going on. In the meantime, I’d be interested to … Full post

    Why don’t you use the current release?

    While a lot of you are running one of Autodesk’s current-model products, there will be a very large portion of you that are using something older. This post is addressed to the latter group. Even if you’re on Subscription and have the current release available, but have chosen to keep running an older release, this question is still addressed to you. In fact, even if you’re now using the current release but have avoided installing some releases in the past, so at some stage you didn’t use the current release, I’d still be interested to hear your answer to this … Full post

    Autodesk Subscription support – how is it?

    I’d like to hear your experiences with the support that is part of the Autodesk Subscription package. My own experiences have been mixed, but I’d like to hear from you rather than push any particular barrow. Have you used it? Good, bad, indifferent, all of the above? Is it timely, efficient, knowledgeable, clearly communicated?

    Please add your comments!

    AutoCAD does a Cheshire Cat

    In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat gradually disappears until nothing is left but its smile. The AutoCAD packaging has done the same thing over the years until now nothing is left but the 0s and 1s. In Release 13, one box was not enough to keep all the materials, but Autodesk gradually slimmed it down until in recent years your slab of upgrade or Subscription cash gets you nothing but a DVD in a case (with or without a pack of cards). However, you can go cap in hand to Autodesk and ask for a real … Full post

    How will you react to Autodesk’s new upgrade pricing?

    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 … Full post

    Autodesk to more than triple upgrade prices

    As reported at Revit3D.com, next March will see a major change to the way Autodesk prices its upgrades. All upgrades will cost 50% of the full retail price rather than the much smaller percentage that is currently charged. If you upgrade yearly, that means the cost of doing so will be about 3.35 times greater than it is now. Clearly, Autodesk doesn’t want you doing that, and would much prefer you to be tied into the Subscription program, and is introducing some subtle encouragement to nudge you in the right direction.

    Here is the rationale according to an Autodesk … Full post

    Autodesk answers – 2 of 4

    In a comment on the first of these posts, Ralph G raised the possibility that these answers have been edited by marketing people. I have checked with Eric Stover and he assures me these answers come direct from the program managers concerned and are unmassaged by marketers. That ties in with the partial email trail that came with the answers. It also ties in with the impression I have formed recently that Autodesk is starting to open up a bit. That’s a trend I’m happy to encourage.

    There’s one thing that clinches the marketing-interference matter for me. Despite … Full post