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

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 over early, but these have now expired. If you are thinking of upgrading or crossgrading, I suggest you contact your reseller, get out your calculator and consider doing it in the next few weeks.

There is some laughable doublespeak in the Autodesk marketing of this change, such as “streamlining our upgrade pricing based on feedback from customers and resellers,” but I can’t imagine anyone being fooled by such nonsense. It’s obvious that Autodesk is not doing this because you all asked for upgrade prices to be trebled to make a nice predictable percentage, it’s doing this to force upgraders on to Subscription. Once you’re on Subscription, you’re paying a year in advance for an upgrade (bonus cashflow!), and you’re something of a captive market, theoretically providing Autodesk with a more regular source of income. (The financial crisis has knocked something of a dent in that theory, as many companies have chosen not to renew subscriptions for products that were previously used by now-retrenched employees).

If you’re already on Subscription, you may be feeling pretty smug right now. Don’t be. Once Autodesk’s user base is effectively converted to the Subscription model, Autodesk will be free to do all sorts of things to that user base. Things like jacking up Subscription prices, reducing or eliminating existing Subscription services, and slipping little clauses into the EULA so you’re “agreeing” that you will lose your license if you stop paying your annual fees. You may be able to think of other things that you won’t like but which will benefit Autodesk shareholders. Maybe not, because Autodesk is too nice to its customers? Maybe I’m just cynical? Then again, if a couple of years ago I had suggested that Autodesk would treble (sorry, “simplify”) upgrade prices, more than a few would have thought I was paranoid.

Autodesk’s various little Subscription carrots have had limited success among its customers, so now it’s time for the big stick. In effect, Autodesk is encouraging you to get on Subscription or get out. What to do? Jump off the upgrade/Subscription train altogether and stick with what you have? Upgrade once now and stick there indefinitely? Upgrade every 3 years? Buy a new license every 6 to 10 years? Hang on and hope Autodesk introduces an upgrade amnesty in a few years? Move over to one of Autodesk’s competitors? My guess is that a large majority of us are going to just do as we’re directed and get onto Subscription.

I’d like to hear from you. What are you going to do, and why? If you’re on Subscription already, are you concerned about what Autodesk might do in the future?

Disclosure: I manage several dozen Autodesk licences for a large organisation which has been on Subscription for quite a few years.


  1. I decided long ago not to get on that merry-go-round. I’m perfectly happy with my purchased copy of r14.

    Sure, there are some wiz-bang features of the newer releases that would be nice but there is a lot that can be done with either in house customization or third party software.

    If more customers got off of the continuous upgrade cycle perhaps their voices would finally be heard.

    My advice: settle on a release and stick with it for numerous years (I’m going on over 10 now).

  2. Brent Daley

    They got me by the balls…just like they want it. We just renewed our subscription. What else can a person do? Sure you might move to a competitor till they get enough people to start modeling what Autodesk is doing. It’s amazing…or nauseating how these big corporations continute to take advantage of small businesses and consumers at a time when our economy is the worst it’s been in a long time. They know your strapped, so it’s easier for them to manipulate you into doing what they want instead of working with you to help bring our economy back. I guess we could all just stop using it, and sit on 2010, I’m sure it would be more then enough to get the job done…but we are americans…so of course we’ll shell out money we don’t have to get something we don’t really need…it’s the american way. C’mon Autodesk…don’t take advantage of us.

  3. Chris Cowgill

    I was informed by my reseller that if you are cross-grading from the current version, that there is no change, its only if you are cross-grading from previous versions, is there anyway to confirm if what my reseller has told me is correct?

  4. The standard Autodesk advice in these situations is “contact your reseller”. He could well be right, having re-read the FAQ. “After March 16, 2010, upgrade and cross-grade prices and retroactive Subscription fees from the three previous software releases will be priced at 50 percent of a full license…”

  5. R. Paul Waddington

    oh! wouldn’t I like to unload in this post about subscription, Autodesk and their dealers. Suffice for readers to know Autodesk’s premier dealers Envision and Cadgroup would not accept my order to renew my Inventor subscription. Autodesk, knowing fully what was going on wiped their hands of the situation and sat on the sidelines.

    Be warned, think very carefully about just how locked in you need to be. As training new users is a greater part of my work I need to stay current but for those working in tight, or closed environments maybe it is time for you guys to learn to live with a version of software for a long time and amortize the ‘greater’ cost over a longer period. It will work to your (cost) advantage.

  6. Tim English

    I decided this year to forego the subscription. There just hasn’t been enough in the software over the last couple of years to keep me interested. Sure there has been “new” features but nothing that I wanted or needed. So I’ll stay on R2010 (with the Ribbon off – thank you very much) until such time that I see something that does make my working life easier.

    In the meantime I countinue to develop routines in LISP (which Autodesk seem to have forgotten even exists) to help with the work I do.

    Also when I was on subscription, to keep up with current technologies, anytime I supplied files to an external contractor I got sick of hearing “oh we don’t have that release! Can you supply that as R2004 (or R2000, R14…)”. Well now I’m going to be one of those voices 🙂

  7. Martin Shoemaker

    I’m keeping one seat (of three) on subscription just so I can transfer files from MEP to an older format. Like Tim said there’s been nothing in recent Autocad releases that’s value added for what I do, although there has been a lot that has reduced productivity. The several days each year to be sure my customizations still work is also unacceptable. I’m moving to a different program for production.

  8. Brent Daley

    I wonder if them cutting their staff has inspired more motivation for them to do a better job rather then having excess people just standing around the water cooler. To me 2010 seems like a stable product. Ribbon or no ribbon, it all has to do with how well your willing to adapt. We certainly don’t improve ourselves by sitting on the same methods day in and day out. Just like with so many things people complain about them, but to hold your ground and make a stand (like not paying subscription and sticking with your current version) to make a statement…people just won’t do it.

  9. AutoCAD 2010 was developed before Autodesk get rid of the last big bunch of people, so if you want to judge how good a job the smaller numbers are doing, you’ll need to wait for AutoCAD 2011.

    I think you’re probably right about people not making a stand. I expect a large majority of former upgrade buyers to be pushed into Subscription by this move, but I’m guessing.

  10. As an educational user, I have a similar experience (but surely with a lower pricetag). Since some time there are not educational upgrades. You either buy a full license or go for subscription. As we don’t renew all our teaching material every year, we decided to only buy a license every three years, when the DWG format is updated. So we just settled on 2010 and assume we will be buying 2013 when it is released in 2012…

    And while going to the competition could be a possibility, most of them are going for subscription-schemes too. But at least, they’ll let you upgrade older versions at a reduced cost.

  11. Dan Witt

    Upon reading this Wiki article, I was disgusted at how Autodesk has waved a few million bucks of persuasion before the eyes of pretty much all their competitors, leaving us with very few options. Especially with those of us who require Civil software. Civil 3D 2010 is a great improvement over previous releases, but at nearly $10,000 a whack… You gotta be kidding. I’m a one-man operation who doesn’t happen to have wads of money falling out of my pockets. Didn’t Microsoft get in some sort of trouble for this? Autodesk doesn’t offer reductions for multiple seats. They don’t have any incentives for small business. And they obviously aren’t interested in our bottom line. To put it plainly, they really don’t give a rip about their customers. Just their own bottom line.

  12. Brent Daley

    It’s insane, and just shows one more thing of why this economy is a mess. So people are laid off, let go, salaries reduced to keep small business going. Yet we are getting screwed more by the price of software and services. Since when do inanimate objects come before real peoples lives? It is a disgusting situation for sure. The list could go on, and on though, makes me instantly think of Direct TV and how they screw people. They should partner up.

  13. John Doe Reseller

    Oh my god. What a bunch of whiny babies. Face the fact that you don’t have a choice but to use Autodesk’s software. Stop being so freakin’ cheap. You, yes you with release 14. You’re an asshole. You cause so many problems for those that have been on subscription and are on the newest release.

    Don’t you realize that by everyone going on subscription, they’re going to use the latest version. That means everyone will be compatible with the files and no more saving as prior versions. That takes time and causes loss of intelligence in the files. We’re so proud that you haven’t upgraded in 10 years. Dude, you so just lost half of your business. No one’s going to want to waste time with your outdated file types when they can work with someone that costs them less money in lost labor converting files.

    AutoCAD costs $1800 every 3 years to upgrade. If it’s now $2000 with the new pricing, that’s $200 difference. Autodesk is doing this for the laggards and those that upgrade every 3 years. It’s not going to be a huge source of revenue because the firms that don’t upgrade every year on subscription are technological dinosaurs. They’re the same people who drag down your design fees. Screw ’em. Pay or perish.

    Let’s not even talk about Autocad versus the Inventor, Civil 3D and Revit differences. If you’re so proud to be on Autocad release 14, you’ll never got a job now that more and more contractors and owners are demanding BIM.

    What is wrong with you architects that you’re such bad business people? I mean really? What is wrong with you that you have no business sense or ability to make a profit? Autodesk doesn’t care about you anymore anyhow. They’re new market is BIM and contractors. They have all the money anyhow and you’re just cheap and whiny. Now, shut up and pay Autodesk the money before your pea size brain has to pay triple the amount after March 16th. Are you that stupid that you’d spite yourself and pay them even more money than you already have to? Run Forrest Run.

  14. R. Paul Waddington

    Patrick said, “Anonymity is a wonderful thing isn’t it John Doe Reseller.”

    I would say for ‘John Doe Reseller’ it’s a necessity; cowards of ‘its’ ilk need to hide.

    Steve provides us a forum to ‘argue’ the point, some other blogs also allow anonymous participation; I agree with anonymity but, only if the comments add to the argument – for or against.

    There was/is no reason a professional needs to respond as has ‘John Doe Reseller’; no name = not a professional (at any level).

    Please don’t abuse the forum we have been given!

  15. Brent Daley

    As harsh as John Doe’s personal attack was on R14 guy, I just picture him giving this as his sales pitch to a prospective client. I think this is something I can reflect on throughout the day when I’m feeling a little blue and need a nice chuckle.

    I agree…let’s stay on topic and not attack each other, or each other’s company practices that’s really no ones business but their own. We’re talking about a piece of software here aren’t we…it doesn’t have feelings.

  16. Dan and Brent. First off, I’m not agreeing with “John Doe”, and this is purely for constructive debate here, but why do you feel that Autodesk charges too much for their products? There are no laws governing how much they can charge, it’s simple free market that determines how much they can charge AFAIK. If $5 or $500 or $5000 or whatever is too much for “Jane” to spend, then “Jane” should consider purchasing a product from a competitor who charges less.

    Moreover, a small business should have a business plan that includes things like software needed to run said business, regardless of the costs. If your business requires that you have a 4WD truck onto which you will put 75,000 miles a year, then you will probably budget for a new truck every 18-24 months, why not do the same for software?

    Lastly, I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on any of this, and I’m not necessarily defending Autodesk in particular (…how they are any different than McDonalds, Ford, or the neighborhood corner store?) — Thanks.

  17. Brent Daley

    Good points R.K. I don’t have any problems with a free market, and having a budget for the software is a no brainer. What I do see is the economy is weak, less work, less income, but the software price remains the same with of course more stipulations on the pricing, along with dates and versions. That doesn’t work too well with my budget to have less income and still pay the same expense. I’m pretty sure a lot of firms out there have had to adjust their rates to stay competitive and get work.

    Of course with other things, cars, food, groceries I can shop around, but doing that doesn’t require any retraining. It just seems like there are a lot of services out there that are helping out the economy by giving consumers a little bit of a break, but in this instance…there is none. It used to be you were just excited to receive a new version on your computer, but now users even question the upgrades when they see their co-workers chair empty and wonder if maybe we didn’t upgrade he would be still sitting there.

    I’m pretty sure all those regular computer or vehicle budgets have been extended out a few more years then usual.

  18. R.K.

    I realize you addressed Dan and Brent but I don’t think that Autodesk’s pricing is unreasonable as much as the recent upgrade policy. Let me state that I say that without even knowing what the annual subscription cost is and for that matter the current price of AutoCAD. I really couldn’t care less. When I’m ready to update I’ll obtain a license and go antother 10 years or so.

    My point is that not upgrading is “Jane’s” other option, and if more entities embraced “Jane’s” choice a modification to Autodesks pricing policy would ensue.

  19. Brent and Patrick – thanks for the comments. I think I understand where you are coming from —– why doesn’t Autodesk give everyone a break in tough times, etc.? My theory is because they don’t have to. They have built a product that current customers can not or will not do without. The number of people who will gripe about Autodesk but turn around and write them a check far outnumber those who will drop them as a vendor and turn to someone else — and I think Autodesk knows it.

  20. R. Paul Waddington

    For those of you who may not have noticed, or those on Subscription and have not read your emails;

    Autodesk have just announced they will not be supplying any media (disks etc) to subscription holders unless they expressly request them.

    Pricing is important but this next step of Autodesk’s should be taken as a warning of things to come. Not that this could not be foreseen quite a while ago and R.K. McSwain’s comment – “The number of people who will gripe about Autodesk but turn around and write them a check far outnumber those who will drop them as a vendor and turn to someone else — and I think Autodesk knows it.” – applies here as well!

  21. Jon Rizzo

    Autodesk has really burned us this year. We have been faithful lemmings…err…subscription customers for many years. Last year, we decided to upgrade our Map licenses to Civil, since the subscription cost was comparable. Now, Autodesk decided to discontinue Civil! The “good news” is that our Civil 3D licenses automatically become Civil 3D licenses. The BAD news is that they are now subject to a bloated subscription rate with no way to opt out! These “free” civil 3d licenses are going to increase our annual subscription cost by $34,000….all for an upgrade that we don’t need or want. Thanks, Autodesk. We, your customers, really appreciate being treated like this.

  22. Dave

    I just “reamed” Autodesk with a letter that actually felt good to write. Send me your e-mail address, and I will forward what I wrote. I’m PISSED at not only Autodesk’s outrageously high priced software but also the way they treat their PAYING customers. I “just” bought AutoCAD Map 3D 2009/2010 a year ago this past November. Now, because I didn’t resubscribe by November 2009, they stuck me with a $100 late fee which they won’t remove. If I don’t buy the $695 resubscription (includes $100 late fee) by March 15th, then I have to pay the “original” cost which is almost $4,000. I’m DONE with Autodesk. I’ll use the 2009/2010 software until I “wear it out.” I can’t even update my software or even call tech support for the software I bought. This is unheard of… I can see why a LOT of people are dumping Autodesk in favor of other CAD vendors…

  23. John Doe Reseller

    I’m sorry about being anonymous. It’s not about being a coward, it’s just the cloak that’s needed in order to talk some sense into you.

    I have a question for you. If you had to go to the hospital for surgery, would you pick a hospital that didn’t have their equipment serviced annually because they didn’t want to pay for it? Would you fly on an airplane if you knew they refused to spend money on maintenance?

    AutoCAD subscription is $450/year. That’s $37.50/month or about 22 cents an hour. Wow. You’re right. Autodesk asks for so much money from you.

    Patrick, yes it was all tongue in cheek, and I said it to be an extremist. As Civil3D, Map, Inventor and Revit all start to be required by clients, what will you tell them about your R14?

    Patrick, I don’t respect your opinion, because it’s not in your best interest. Technology is important. Parametric modeling, energy analysis and many other features of these new technologies will save the architectural industry from itself. While I appreciate and admire your stubbornness, I can only stay in business, if you stay in business. So, I do want you to succeed, make money and want to pay Autodesk every year.

    Yes, I’m harsh, but if I don’t create some anxiety here, you’d never move forward.

  24. R. Paul Waddington

    “I’m sorry about being anonymous. It’s not about being a coward, it’s just the cloak that’s needed in order to talk some sense into you.”

    I find this a very interesting argument. Why and how does anonymity add credibiltiy to your argument, ‘John Doe Reseller’, or, make it ‘any more’ possible “to talk some sense into you.”?

    If your a person of ‘substance’ in industry, or our industry, then surely using your name re-enforces your point? Else the reverse is true!

    Further more, whilst you may see your ‘costing’ as the ‘cost’ and of little significance, you are also not taking the whole cost into account and you are, equally, not taking into consideration, for instance, the income needed to be earned by a contractor, for whom upgrading of software may need to come out of ‘disposable’ income – when there is not a lot available. I have yet to meet a software dealer that has any ‘genuine’ insight into the real cost CAD inflicts on many of its users.

    Please don’t try and counter with the – productivity improvements pay – argument as this has been for a very long time, for many, simply trash!

  25. Graeme Welton

    I’m a little late getting in on this discussion, but I have to say that the inability to use 2010 files in 2009 causes us all kinds of problems. We are running both ACAD and Civil3D. If you are a stand-alone company that outputs only paper product, then you can use whatever software you like. However, I work for a large Consulting Engineering firm and we have to share files with other Engineers and Architects. Due to the incompatability between the versions, we have to have the discussion at the beginning of the project, are we doing this in 2009 or 2010? This means that all of my CADD Tech’s have to have both versions installed on their machines. Older projects that were started in 2009 have to stay in 2009. We are currently upgrading all of our computers to 64 bit at considerable expense so we can run 2010. This has taken some time to coordinate through the whole company, so here we are getting ready to fully implement 2010 and Autodesk is releasing 2011!!!!
    Now, some of you may tell me that I have a choice to upgrade or not to upgrade, but that is false! The industry itself dictates that I need to have the latest and greatest in order to work with the other fools that have upgraded. What I am suggesting to anyone who will listen is this: STOP UPGRADING AUTOCAD SOFTWARE!!!! If all of the companies were to agree together to stay static at 2010 for the next 3 to 5 years, the world would be a happpy place. I am sick of paying for training every year just because Autodesk changed the menu layout, and 2010 seems to work just fine.
    Ask yourself this question, if Autodesk stopped upgradng ACAD and Civil3D, would it stop you from doing your job? NO!
    If we all got together and refused to play this self defeating game, we would all be much better off.

  26. Michael Meio

    I like some posters approach and advise for not upgrading the software. I think I’ll stick with 2008.

    I don’t understand why everyone using advanced software nowdays has to get the bitter taste. I mean, an Architect can’t expect his tools to perform accordingly if he’s not as experienced in software and hardware trickalldo’s as any computer engineer must be.

    Maybe my common sense is outdated as my computer but shouldn’t it be the opposite? The software should be there to help you improve your performance (at least).

    The only thing we need now is for Autodesk to block drawings from older versions and force the universe on their favor again.

  27. David Baird


    Our reseller Hagerman tries to charge us an extra $100. per license for our Revit Subscriptions.

    They want the Subscriptions paid in April prior to the release of the new update…..which makes sense.

    However, for the last 5 years the first update is unusable because of bugs. The Service pack that solves some of the bugs come out in June or July. Then some brave firms test it out & tell the rest of us whats been fixed or not. Usually the SP is test & deemed usable & safe by August or September. SO that’s when we are ready to pay our yearly subscription fee again…you know- when the upgrade is usable!!

    But every year Hagerman tries to charge us a late fee without a viable explanation (because there is none) And every year we threaten to go to another reseller & we can our subscription about 2-3 weeks after we pay.

    Does everyone else have wait 2-3 weeks to get your renewal Subscription after you pay?

  28. I am now facing around $40K – $100K depending whether I choose to renew for 1 year or three. I don’t think subscription is value for money. I am thinking of just renewing subscription for 1 licence which should enable me to save to whatever version I need. Subscription is good for Autodesk but not for our business.

    I think the market needs to put Autodesk in it’s place. I’d pay $100 per license but feel $1500 is ridiculous.

  29. X Salazar

    AutoCAD Subscriptions used to be voluntary, if you signed up, you would receive bonus tools, but
    it is no longer a choice, you must pay now or later.

    This is highway robbery and it has to stop, we should unite in writing letters to congress to tame this
    greedy monopoly

    Autodesk bundles Civil 3d with the Land Desktop features and forces LD users to pay for
    features they never will use.

    Last year for the first time since subscriptions started, I could not afford to buy the subscription so this year,
    Autodesk demands I pay last year’s fee plus a $100 penalty, in addition to this years subscription.

    That is $1990 + $100.00, if, I download the program, because there is an additional fee of $154.23 if I want a the CD.

    The price will go up to $3,245+995 September 24, 2012, and to $ 4,545 + $995 by march 1, 2013 . $5,500 to upgrade one seat!!!!

    Autodesk’s releases offer nothing usable from year to year, nobody I know implements a new upgrade every year because it takes time and money
    to adopt the “upgrades” which sometimes are actually a step or two backwards

    I am sickened by Autodesk’s money grabbing tactics and will do something about it

  30. Kurt

    I bought Maya 2014 and was enraged when I heard Autodesk will only be offering subscriptions after 2015! I contacted them and told them I wont be buying into any of their software after 2015 and will be choosing a company that wont be subscription only. C4D looks appealing at this point. I think this might be the beginning of the end for Autodesk. I don’t use Maya for work full time and like to upgrade here and there but being forced into subscription will actually remove the funds that I would normally have to be able to pay and use the software saving up to buy it – it’s not worth it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.