Autodesk Subscription – it could be worse

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: more relevant links and customer comments from Devon Sowell and Matt Lombard’s blogs.


  1. Does your dentist use the newer digital xrays or the old fashioned film xrays? Did you know the new digital xray equipment uses up to 80% less radiation? Yes, the equipment is expensive, but it’s faster, can be compared to older digital xrays and can be filtered to see more accurately. Does your Dentist complain about the cost of this technology? Would you rather him spend less money and use technology that is more harmful to you? Anything medically related in your life would want you to have the medical community using the best technology to diagnose you and keep you healthy, pain free and alive.

    So, you have to pay for subscription for software. Do you keep using AutoCAD R14 or switch to Revit that’s more productive, accurate, works better in the process of designing and building buildings? Is it about the cost of the software or the reduced salary, less field administration, fewer coordination issues and clashes and giving the contractor more information to build the building faster and easier for the owner. Is the software you use about how little you have to spend, or how you can reduce changes orders for the client?

    If you financed a 3 year Revit subscription contract, it would cost 36 cents/hour for 3 years. You bill $100 an hour. Is 36 cents a lot? Of course you have many other costs in your business, but your software is your main tool to make that money. No one believes it, but Revit, Civil3D and Inventor can double productivity. That means half the salary needed for each project.

    As to the new policy of Autodesk. Most people upgraded once every 3 years when the dwg format came out. They paid $1800 ($600 x 3 years) and now it’s 50% of Retail, so AutoCAD upgrades are $1995. That’s not a huge difference in price. Yes, the recession is making it very difficult to pay any money, but if there are fewer firms in business, there’s less competition and fees can go up. There’s too much competition right now as firms are cutting prices to try to get any work they can. As fees go down, profit goes down, number of people on staff go down and quality goes down.

    If you look at the number of products that Autodesk now has, how BIM has completely changed the future of the AEC industry, and you can read their SEC filing, you’d see they spend over $500 million a year on product development. I love reading the Archicad forums where theyre freaked out because the vendor doesn’t listen, hasn’t made significant changes, upgrades only once every 18 months and they have to spend a lot on plugins that don’t come with the software. Also, their LT version doesn’t share files with the full version. Love or hate Autodesk, at least they don’t screw over LT users with file compatibility.

    Yes, I’m a reseller, but I try to provide solutions for my customers to help them actually make money. I won’t sell products that I’m told to sell and I never read the marketing literature. I was also a general contractor and had an IT business, so I actually only recommend software that is more efficient.

    What do we pay for every year in our lives? Mortgage, clothing, transportation, food, utilities, insurance and lots of other things. What if Apple never introduced the iPod and iPhone? What if we were still using DOS? What if we still were using dot matrix printers. What would life be like without the internet, wifi, satellites and many other technologies. Do they all work perfectly all the time? Of course not.

    Autodesk has been listening to their customers the past few years. They’re making changes that the customers want. Does anyone actually force you to use their products? They’re called your clients. Now, they’re requiring you to use newer technology. Autodesk doesn’t force that on you. Yes, they do require you to pay to use that technology.

    After all, if you ever read the End User License Agreement, you’re actually only leasing the right to use their technology. You never actually own it. So, you’ll have to perpetually pay to lease their technology, bugs and all.

    I hope that put a little different spin on it. Personally, I hate selling software, but I do love providing solutions to my clients that actually improve the quality of their designs and the end manufactured product, whether it be a machine, road or building. If you had something that helps you sell your designs to a client, wouldn’t you embrace it?

    OK. Let the flaming begin.

  2. WOW! I love that post Greg and I agree with most of it. I’m a fan of subscription and upgrading. And, gasp, dare I say it, I’m also a fan of yearly updates for software! I don’t understand why people complain so much about new releases. I don’t want to get off topic Steve, so I apologize if I do. And Greg, I know you are a reseller, but i think one problem with the subscription plan is the lack of support from many resellers. I am in the process of switching now because of the lack of response form mine. The good news, is that there are many resellers out there and I can pick which one I want to use. I wish the software cost less, yes, but to me, it is our number one tool in producing design and permit documents, therefore, I need the best I can get.

    Bug fixes are a must, no matter who you are, subscriber or not. Also, though, subscribers should get something extra because we purchase the software and pay for subscription. That extra payment should get us something. Otherwise, why pay it? it is in the software providers best interest to offer more to a subscriber.

  3. R. Paul Waddington

    Gregory Arkin’s comments ‘have substance’ but as often happens when broaching this topic his comments are both generalizations and, if applicable, will only be applicable to ‘some’, certainly not all.

    “but your software is your main tool to make that money” – I liked this comment and it is a great example of just how wrong it is to generalize as is the following wrong on many levels but one. “No one believes it, but Revit, Civil3D and Inventor can double productivity. That means half the salary needed for each project.”

    The reason “no one believes it” is simply because it is untrue Gregory!

  4. Tim English

    This argument is like telling a carpenter he/she can do everything with this new shiney red hammer. What’s that you have a blue hammer? Well this hammer is better because it is red! And you longer need that saw over there or a tape measure, because this is the NEWEST red hammer.

    I use AutoCad, Revit and Excel as my primary software “tools”. Would I like them all in one package? No I don’t think so, just as a carpenter needs more than one tool, I use differnet software packeges for different tasks. Just my 2 cents worth.

  5. Robert

    I guess hard brackets get clipped here, I’ll try again with parenthesis:

    “Personally, I hate selling software, but I do love providing solutions to my clients that actually improve the quality…” (remainder of comment muffled by the Autodesk teat in Greg’s mouth.)

  6. Derek Bishop

    I’m a SolidWorks user and have been since 2007. I chose it over Autodesk Inventor for a number of reasons after trialling both it and SW and watching demonstrations. SW seemed a better product. I do see advantages in going the Autodesk route in some cases.

    I do believe however that SolidWorks have got it wrong in principle and it riles many users. Basically customers are paying for software that is broken and then paying another fee to have it fixed. At the same time they are forced to identify the problem areas if they want them fixed which takes a lot of time. The subscription fee is paid to a reseller who basically does SW job of filtering the complaints about their broken software. It is offloading software development costs onto users.

    I don’t know much about Autodesk. I don’t think they are a lot different in regard to the number of bugs in their software. The 3D CAD industry needs to lift its game in this regard. But making customers pay extra to have their bugs fixed is a poke in the eye.

  7. Steve Elting

    I had been a long time user of Autodesk Inventor (v1 – 2008) and worked with it daily until I started my own company. I still help clients with training and integration issues. Once I was on my own, I went with Solidworks because so many of my clients asked if we use it. I thought Autodesk was awful with customer service, what an eye opener it was to go off subscription with SW.

    Look, they “set the bar” for all the rest to follow when comes to MCAD software and they know it. So, they will proceed to screw their customers until it becomes a revenue problem.

    As long as Autodesk, Solidworks, etc. keep porting software to Windowz, they will always be playing catchup with regards to the law of unintended consequences. MS security patch ###, now screws up the Nvidia driver an they release a new driver which in turn screws up something with Inventor or SW or both. So now, Autodesk (or SW or whoever) has a new SP to fix this but, WAIT! DON’T INSTALL IT YET! We have to troll the forums and newsgroups to see if this “fix” is going screw up something else or worse, your CAD data.

    The IT industry still “live in their heads” and not in the real world. The idea of developing a fully tested and commissioned product is unheard of in their world. “Let users test it…”. That doesn’t work well for those of us who make real products as a lot of Prius owners have found out. We (consumers) have been conditioned to accept this “let the users test it” mentality because of the bells, whistles, and pretty colors dazzle us enough long enough to get past the deficiencies.

    Well, I’ve got to go. Looks like Microsoft has another critical update it needs for me to install…..

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