Autodesk’s mixed rental and perpetual license offer

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 keep using Release 14 during and after the 3 year period. The offer applies to existing licenses of a wide range of products from Release 14 to 2017 (see here for details).

Why you might take up this offer

  1. It’s cheaper than full price rental
  2. At the end of 3 years you still have your old release and can continue using it
  3. The usual subscription/maintenance benefits apply (e.g. home use, access to 3 releases back, etc.), but this is only a factor if you’re not currently on maintenance

Why you might decline this offer

  1. You have to pay up front for 3 years (not too terrible)
  2. You have no idea what’s going to happen to the software in the next 3 years
  3. At the end of 3 years, if you want to keep renting, your annual software cost is likely to take a minimum 100% price hike
  4. At the end of 3 years you will have no software to show for your investment (other than your old release which you already had anyway)
  5. Although it’s cheaper than full-price rental, it’s still more expensive than maintenance (formerly called Subscription) on an existing perpetual license
  6. It’s obviously substantially more expensive than just using your old release without maintenance, which costs you nothing
  7. There are likely to be compatibility issues between the old release and any drawings you create with the new release, particularly with the vertical products
  8. You have to be connected to the Internet to let your product phone home at install and every 30 days thereafter
  9. There are competing products that allow you to buy a perpetual license and maintain it for 3 years for substantially less than this half-price offer

The idea is for Autodesk to get you all aboard the gravy train and carry you off to destination rental. You will be so excited by the ride that you will leave your old software behind, and the fact that you can still go back there if you want will be irrelevant. Why would you want to? Your new destination will be so much better.

The problem with this scenario is that Autodesk has added precious little in the way of genuinely useful, productive, complete features to AutoCAD in the last few years, while making some things worse. For example, any AutoCAD 2017 user who fires up an old release (the older the better) is likely to be hugely impressed by how quickly they can start drawing with that rusty old thing. The comparison isn’t nearly as impressive going the other way. I suspect the new destination isn’t going to be quite as irresistible to customers as Autodesk would like to think it is.

Is anybody out there tempted by this offer?


  1. So … they really call this GLOBAL FIELD PROMOTION and on the same page (their FAQ paragraph 4 ) says the following :

    4. What countries are eligible to participate?

    The offer is available in the United States and Canada.
    End of Quote

    Not that i’d be tempted in the slightest to trade in my 3ds Max perpetual license anyways …

    1. Please, check your facts before posting. The customer cannot use the old version after completeing the trade-in purchase.

      Copy/paste from

      12. Are customers required to submit their existing perpetual serial number(s)?

      Yes. To receive the 50% discount, customers must trade-in the eligible perpetual serial number(s) and no longer use all seats associated to that serial number(s). Once the trade-in is complete the serial number(s) cannot be traded-in or used to achieve a promotion discount a second time.

      13. Can customers continue to use the perpetual license after they purchase the discounted 3-year subscription?

      No. As part of the terms and conditions of this offer, the customer agrees to trade-in the eligible perpetual license serial number(s) and no longer use any seats associated with that serial number(s). Please note that one of the features of subscription is Previous Version Rights, which allows customers to access certain previous versions.

      1. Thanks, I was unaware that the US offer differed so dramatically from the Australian one, which states:

        11. Are customers required to submit their existing perpetual serial number(s)?
        Yes. To receive the promotional discount, customers must submit the eligible perpetual serial number(s). Once the submission is complete the customer may continue to use the serial number(s) and license, however cannot submit a second time to achieve a promotion discount.

        12. Can customers continue to use the perpetual license after they purchase the discounted 3-year subscription?
        Yes, customers may continue to use the license they have submitted, however they may not submit the license a second time to receive a promotional discount.

  2. Armadillo

    I have read the Autodesk page but to me it does not seem you keep your old licences if you take up on this offer. The page says:

    “To participate, simply trade-in your old, qualifying license and purchase a new, 3-year subscription to any eligible product or collection of your choice through your participating reseller or the Autodesk Store
    Once you trade-in your perpetual license, you agree to discontinue use of the traded-in license.”

    So I don’t think you can keep your old licence after the 3 year period ends and you decide to stop your subscription.
    I think the whole point of this offer is to put you in a situation where there is no turning back to using perpetual licences.

  3. Strewth, I’ve got this very wrong. The problem is that the offer I received for Australia is as I described (you get to keep your perpetual license), and in the US it is as you described (you don’t). I made the mistaken assumption that the offer was the same.

    I have some serious editing to do. Thank you, Mihael and Armadillo for pointing out my mistake.

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