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 … Full post

Simplifying CAD Management the Autodesk way

According to Autodesk, one of the benefits of subscription (rental) is simplified administration. To prove it, Autodesk has provided a simple guide for CAD Managers called The Software Administrator’s Guide to Autodesk Subscriptions – How to Set Up, Install, and Manage Your Software and Users.

It’s 18.7 MB and 78 pages long.

Don’t worry though, this simple guide helpfully includes a simple guide on how to read it.

Among other things, this eBook provides handy hints on how subscription’s simplified administration regime for standalone licenses requires you to pre-emptively name all your users, set them all up with Autodesk accounts and define what software each is allowed to use. There’s a note to say that your Internet connection needs to be working at the time of installation (obviously) and also every 30 days (less obvious) or you won’t be able to use the software.

The guide … Full post

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 … Full post

New Autodesk subscription idea – any interest?

Let’s say Autodesk came up with a new offer for customers currently under maintenance. Let’s say you could switch to subscription (rental) with the same price as maintenance, locked in with no increases for three years. In addition, you get to retain, but not upgrade, your perpetual license.

Let’s say you’re on maintenance which is up for renewal later this year. You currently have a perpetual license of AutoCAD 2018. If you accept this offer, you will always retain that AutoCAD 2018 license. You switch to subscription and pay the maintenance amount for one to three years. Your subscription fee is guaranteed to rise by no more than 20% total by year five.

As long as you continue to pay subscription, you get access to new releases (2019, 2020, etc). If you decide to no longer renew your subscription at any point, you can no longer use the new releases, … Full post

New Autodesk subscription offer to perpetual license holders

Don’t get too excited. Autodesk’s recent attempt to price-force perpetual license maintenance customers onto subscription (rental) remains in place, unchanged and just as unappealing as before. If you’re one of those customers, there’s nothing new here of interest to you.

This new offer, at 30% off the normal but extremely high subscription price, is at first sight even less appealing than the approximately 60% saving that the above offer provides. But it’s aimed at different customers, and there’s the remote possibility that such customers might find it worthwhile.

The new offer is called FY18 Q1 Autodesk – Global Field Promotion and is aimed at bringing into the rental fold those customers who hold old perpetual licenses that are not on maintenance. If you have an old AutoCAD Release 14 lying around that has never been upgraded, or an AutoCAD 2007 license where you allowed the maintenance … Full post

Ask Teresa from Autodesk your maintenance and subscription questions

As a follow-up to the Pixel Fondue video I posted earlier, Greg reports:

Since then Teresa Anania (Teresa from the letter) has contacted me and has agreed to do a pixelfondue livestream and answer some questions people may have. So…if you want to ask Teresa something directly post your question here and I will send it to her. I obviously can’t guarantee that I will ask (or she will answer) all questions. Teresa is (to her credit) reaching out to customers in a more personal way here – and maybe we can help her understand our feelings about AD’s move to subscription, especially how it pertains to current license holders.

Teresa Anania is Autodesk’s Senior Director, Subscription Success. It is indeed commendable that Teresa is prepared to step out of the Autodesk PR safe zone and field questions and comments from real people in an environment … Full post

AutoCAD 2018 – 2/10, would not rent

It must be March, because another AutoCAD has just been launched. Despite this one being codenamed Omega, I’ve been assured it’s not the final AutoCAD release. The good news is that AutoCAD 2018 is twice the upgrade that 2017 was. But hold your excitement, because the bad news is that 2017 was only a 1/10 upgrade.

Autodesk has continued the well-established tradition of acting like a low-quality sausage machine, reliably popping out consistently unexciting products at regular intervals.

Here’s what’s in this year’s underwhelming sausage:

  • Xrefs now default to relative path attachment and there are a few associated tweaks including find/replace path
  • You can select objects off-screen (handier than it sounds)
  • File dialogs remember settings
  • A couple more dialogs can be resized
  • There are a couple more tiny user interface tweaks
  • The stuff from 2017.1 is included, of course, some seeing minor improvements since then
  • iDrop … Full post

ADSK v ADBE – a tale of two graphs

I’m no financial analyst, so I’ll just leave these graphs here for your own interpretation. They show the profit/loss numbers for two software companies beginning with A that have abandoned perpetual license sales and gone all-subscription (rental).

Among other significant differences, one company went with very low rental prices while the other has extremely high rental prices. How have these differing strategies played out for Adobe and Autodesk? Green shows profit; red shows loss.

Adobe moved to the all-rental model earlier than Autodesk. The Autodesk graph therefore covers a shorter period than the Adobe one. Feel free to slide the Autodesk one along to the point you think best matches the equivalent point in the Adobe timeline.

Full post

Autodesk license costs options – summary 2

This is a revised version of the Autodesk license costs options – summary post, where I examined various payment options for CAD software and compared them with the cost of staying on your Autodesk maintenance contract long-term. This version is based on limited new information from Autodesk. While this post can be read alone, to better understand the context you may wish to check out that summary and the preceding posts in the series:

1. Autodesk license costs options 1 & 2 – stay on maintenance, subscription now
2. Autodesk license costs options 3, 4 & 5 – bait and switch
3. Autodesk license costs options 6 to 10 – abandon maintenance or Autodesk
4. Autodesk license costs options – summary

In this post, I will examine the validity of the various assumptions I have … Full post

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 … Full post

Autodesk license costs options – summary

Note: an updated version of this post is available, using new costing information from Autodesk that was unavailable when this original summary was written.

In this series of posts, I have examined various payment options for CAD software and compared them with the cost of staying on your Autodesk maintenance contract long-term.

In this fourth and final post, I will examine the validity of the various assumptions I have made; lay out all the data with best/worst options lists; provide combined graphs; and sum up.

However, that means this is a very long post. I want to ensure one essential point doesn’t get lost, so I’ll state it right up front. I will fully justify it later with objective evidence, but for now, here it is:

DO NOT switch from maintenance to subscription.

Just don’t do it. It makes no sense to do it on any level. You … Full post

Autodesk license costs options 6 to 10 – abandon maintenance or Autodesk

Note: due to new information from Autodesk, an updated summary has been posted.

In this series of posts, I’ll examine various payment options for CAD software and compare them with the cost of staying on your Autodesk maintenance contract long-term.

In this third post, I examine what happens if you do something out of the box. Something Autodesk didn’t plan on you doing, and something it won’t like. What if you don’t renew your maintenance and then maybe hop on the subscription gravy train later? What if you don’t renew your maintenance and switch to a non-Autodesk product?

As stated in my first post, staying on maintenance is the baseline with which I’m comparing these options:

Option 1 – stay on maintenance
Assumptions: maintenance cost 20% compound rise annually from 2020
Pros: keep your perpetual license, keep it up to date, retain previous version … Full post

Autodesk license costs options 3, 4 & 5 – bait and switch

Note: due to new information from Autodesk, an updated summary has been posted.

In this series of posts, I’ll examine various payment options for CAD software and compare them with the cost of staying on your Autodesk maintenance contract long-term.

In this second post, I examine what happens if you switch from maintenance to subscription (rental) once the recently-announced offers kick in from June 2017. As stated in my first post, staying on maintenance is the baseline with which I’m comparing these options:

Option 1 – stay on maintenance
Assumptions: maintenance cost 20% compound rise annually from 2020
Pros: keep your perpetual license, keep it up to date, retain previous version & home use rights
Cons: increasing costs, expect more unpleasant “persuasive” surprises from Autodesk

3 year cost $1957 (average $652)
5 year cost $3951 (average $790)
10 year cost $13665 … Full post

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 … Full post

Autodesk license costs options 1 & 2 – stay on maintenance, subscription now

Note: due to new information from Autodesk, an updated summary has been posted.

In this series of posts, I’ll examine various payment options for CAD software and compare them with the cost of staying on your Autodesk maintenance contract long-term. Once I’ve gone through all the options, I’ll do a summary post that compares everything, but there are so many variables that a single post that covers all the options in adequate detail would be very long and complex.

First, I need to describe what I’m using as the basis of my comparison. Prior to Autodesk’s recent announcement, the annual maintenence cost to keep one copy of AutoCAD up to date was US$540 and the equivalent subscription (rental) cost was US$1680. I’ll call this the 2016 cost.

Autodesk has announced that maintenance costs will rise by 5% in 2017, 10% in 2018 and 20% in 2019. The rises … Full post

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 … Full post

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 … Full post

Why Autodesk’s rental won’t make big money from pirates

One argument I’ve seen in support of the all-rental software model is that it will rake in lots of cash from those users who aren’t currently customers, i.e. pirates. Here’s an example (Carl Bass, November 2016):

We believe some of these people were previously pirating the software and now have a much more affordable option with product subscriptions. This is consistent with the fact that emerging countries are some of the fastest growing areas for product subscriptions. In other cases, these new users have been using an alternative design tool and could now afford software from Autodesk.

Putting aside the correlation-does-not-imply-causation thing, rental simply isn’t a much more affordable option than perpetual licenses. On the contrary, it’s much more expensive (except for short term use). Repeating an #AlternativeFact doesn’t make it any more true.

The idea that people who had been using non-Autodesk software have switched over to … Full post

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 … Full post

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 … Full post