Autodesk customers are still revolting

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 came to see me is a good guy from a great reseller and I was not unkind.

Autodesk obviously knows it’s hard to sell such a bad deal and is pushing its resellers hard to get with the program. They are being briefed and provided with PowerPoint presentations to help sell the deal. My reseller says he’s had to deal with “many angry customers” and feels like the meat in the sandwich. He did his very best to present the deal in its best light, but the poor guy is too honest to make it sound good. He has my sympathy.

There were some differences between the numbers he provided and what I’ve described based on Autodesk information. The major pieces of new information I gleaned (assuming my reseller is right) were:

  • For people who surrender their licenses and switch to subscription, the cost that’s locked in for the first three years is 5% more than maintenance, not the same price.
  • After the three-year lock-in, the year four subscription price rise will be about 15%.
  • After that, nobody knows.

The net effect is slightly worse for subscription than it looked before the meeting, but not hugely so. It’s not worth redoing my graphs.

Switching to subscription is still just a really bad deal that’s being presented as a good deal by comparing it with another deal (maintenance) that’s being artificially worsened. Sorry, but I’m not just comparing it with Autodesk’s other deal. I’m also comparing it with the deals provided by Autodesk’s competitors. According to that comparison, both Autodesk’s deals are shockingly poor. The same happens if I compare Autodesk’s subscription deal with rental success-story Adobe’s pricing.

I explained to my reseller the problem with surrendering perpetual licenses. Autodesk is requiring a decision to be made with permanent, irrevocable consequences, based only on short-term information. He said the message from Autodesk is that further information isn’t going to be forthcoming because, “No other company is going to let you know its prices five years in advance.” My reply was that no other company is expecting me to give away what has already been paid for.

Last week, I had a telephone conversation about an Autodesk rep about this issue. Among other things, I told him:

You’re asking me to give you my balls in a bag in the hope that you won’t squeeze too hard.

It ain’t happening.


  1. A software supplier is an important business partner for an AEC firm, not just a good program but a good support team and distribution channel.
    Around 2005 I realized that Autodesk did not meet my criteria for a good business partner, so I moved to BricsCAD and every day that goes by I am more satisfied with the decision taken in 2005, we currently use BricsCAD+BIM for drafting and Civil Site Design from Civil Survey Solutions for surveying and land development, we also use BricsCAD to interface with our structural analysis software SAP2000, CSIBridge, ETABS, SAFE, etc and we do not miss Autodesk at all, last version of AutoCAD we installed was ADT2006 as a failsafe in case we encountered any issues with BricsCAD but never really used it much and we maintained Autodesk unpacked in the box to this day for version ADT2008.
    Free yourself from the chains today, use the saved money to take your family on a trip to the beach.
    So as you can see, I did not get mad, I just got even, left Autodesk, took my business elsewhere and was lucky to find the great team of Bricsys. And if you have the opportunity of attending one of their annual meetings in October, I believe this year is in Paris you will find that not only the software is great, also the team and people behind it
    I invite you to do the same and move to BricsCAD, take that leap of faith. Testing if free, download the 30 day trial.
    And if you do 3D with AutoCAD with BricsCAD you can do it as poorly and clumsy as AutoCAD does with the same commands or you can experience the awesome tools provided by BricsCAD that make 3D drafting and modeling easy and fun

  2. Hi, You might find this analysis (and comparison with Adobe) interesting.

    “How does ADSK compare to ADBE which underwent a similar sales model transition?

    The answer, as the graphs below attest, is that ADBE never saw the types of valuations (and losses) that ADSK is now exhibiting”

    “Moreover ADBE never saw the negative profit margins and ensuing balance sheet destruction that ADSK is now undergoing”

    1. Ian Johnson


      Adobe are just playing a longer game. Their lower pricing has two effects. Helps stride over the immediate hurdle of offereing the majority of users very little advantage in cloud based service over perennial licensing. Locks more into their drip-feed income model. There is an immediate reasonable payoff and a longer term massive one.

      AutoDesk are faced with a more significant array of competitors making the garnering of extra users following an overal reduction of cost sub-20% not very likely.

      There can be advantages in Cloud based licensing but there are none which could not be provided under the perennial model. The approach is simply made in the software developer’s favour. It provides more regular (drip-feed) income and to a degree it ‘enforces’ compliance.

  3. Paul

    This stock market analyst’s review of Autodesk’s Maintenance program is revealing – they expect 95% of the current 2m subscribers to be on maintenance by 2020:

    “Customers would trade in their perpetual license and lock in a subscription fee for three years that would be 60 percent less than if they had bought a new subscription from scratch,

    The analyst models about 30 percent of the 2 million subscribers to convert in FY 2018, 50 percent in 2019 and 15 percent in 2020.

  4. Joe Dunfee

    Vanilla AutoCAD is in different situation than other cloud-based programs. The reason is that the DWG files it creates are readable and editable by several other good programs. BricsCAD and DraftSight being two good examples. So, you don’t have to feel that you are becoming permanently tied to AutoDesk cloud service, to be able to access and use your own data, since you can simply bail ship.

    But, the vertical AutoCAD products, or any of the other Autodesk products are not in the same category. If you invest years of effort to create content in Revit, you are pretty much permanently tied to Autodesk if you want to continue to make full use of your work. Autodesk can, if it feels it can get away with it, jack prices up quite a bit. Customers will pay for it, as long as the cost is less than the cost of throwing out years worth of work creating your drawing library.

    1. Steve Johnson

      Most of Autodesk’s big-paying customers are not yet cloud-trapped. Hence Autodesk’s long but so far less than fruitful campaign to get its customers tied to its servers.

      The AutoCAD verticals with their nasty proxy objects are more binding than plain AutoCAD’s clean DWG, but it is quite possible to stop maintenance and transition over a few years to competing products that don’t use proxies without losing anything.

      Revit has been a lot more binding so far, but the ODA is working hard on that and potential freedom from Autodesk is in sight.

      But if you’re attached to Autodesk’s cloud solutions? Yes, you’re going to get screwed. It’s already happening with rendering.

  5. Autocrats

    Rented a Max license, returned it the next day. Their crapware needs to vanish along with their pricing structure. I bought a Lightwave upgrade with the returned money, couldn’t be happier.

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