Autodesk has taken customers’ money and in return has provided defective software (OK, that happens). It has fixed some of those defects (that happens too, sometimes). But it’s limiting distribution of those fixes to those prepared to pay Autodesk further (that has never happened before).
Just let that sink in. Autodesk broke stuff you paid for, could easily fix it, but won’t do so unless you pay more. If you thought ransomware only came from Russia, think again.
Here’s how the scam works.
Let’s say customer Fred paid thousands of dollars for his perpetual license of AutoBLOB and paid thousands more for upgrades and maintenance over several decades. Due to Autodesk no longer making significant improvements to AutoBLOB, he finally gave up hope and decided to drop off maintenance. Understandable, particularly as Autodesk has announced maintenance prices are getting jacked up.
Never mind. Thanks to his perpetual license, Fred can keep right on using AutoBLOB! Aren’t perpetual licenses just the best thing?
Let’s say Fred made the decision after discovering AutoBLOB 2017 was slower than, and really not significantly better than, AutoBLOB 2016, 2015 or even 2010. Fred’s maintenance period carried him through to beyond the release of AutoBLOB 2018, which he intended using for a few years until he transitioned to an alternative product. (Or until Autodesk Becomes Great Again, but Fred doesn’t consider that likely).
Meantime, Fred discovers that there’s a new bug in AutoBLOB 2018 that makes it useless for his needs. It’s not a crash, drawing corruption or security issue, but it is something that makes it difficult of impossible for him to produce the required output. Because he installed AutoBLOB 2018 before his maintenance expired, Autodesk won’t allow him to use 2017 or any earlier version.
Meanwhile, Autodesk has, miracles of miracles, developed a fix for that nasty bug. All Fred has to do is download and install the hotfix or Service Pack, right? Wrong. Because Autodesk has wrapped up the bug fix with AutoBLOB 2018.1, a mid-term update that includes not only bug fixes but also a few new minor feature improvements. Unlike the competition, Autodesk restricts such updates to continuously paying customers. AutoBLOB 2018.1 is therefore only available to subscription and maintenance customers. Fred’s bug has been “deemed non-critical” by Autodesk and therefore the fix won’t be distributed to him.
Fred is screwed by a combination of Autodesk’s worst aspects: chronic failure to improve the product, price-gouging business practices, incompetence in development and testing, and unreasonably restrictive licensing terms. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s then screwed again by one final, nasty, vindictive, petty piece of bastardry by a company desperate to strong-arm its reluctant customers into subscription slavery.
This is not OK.
This is no way to treat customers. It’s unethical. It’s unconscionable. It’s immoral. It’s disgusting. It’s evil.
In the EU at least, it could well be illegal. I certainly hope so; Autodesk being fined a few hundred million Euros might discourage other companies from following suit.
Although it’s tempting to think of Autodesk as a single edifice, it’s important to remember that it’s made up of many individuals. Many of them are great people who would never dream of stooping this low and who are probably quietly embarrassed to be associated with a company that does so. Those people have my sympathy and should stop reading now.
But if you’re that person at Autodesk who thought up this idea? Or one of those who thought it would be OK to do this? Or just sat silently during the meetings where this was discussed and didn’t pipe up, “This is just WRONG”? I have a message for you.
You’re an asshole.