Battle of the Bullshit part 5 – Bentley back in the bad books

Battle of the Bullshit part 5 – Bentley back in the bad books

Having earlier earned my praise for raising its game in its PR battle with Autodesk, Bentley has unfortunately reverted to BS mode with its latest effort.

In its message “Upgrade your Autodesk Licenses – Top 5 Reasons Why You Have a Choice“, Bentley’s marketers have chosen to step beyond the facts. Bad idea.

Most of that page is just straightforward promotion of Bentley’s self-perceived strong points. No problem with that. But the first full paragraph? Hmm.

Here’s the first example:

Preserve the value of your Autodesk licenses that otherwise would be lost as a result of Autodesk’s decision to no longer offer or support perpetual licenses.

It’s true that Autodesk has decided to no longer offer perpetual licenses. It’s false to state that Autodesk will no longer support them. Perpetual licenses are fully supported with maintenance. Without maintenance, support suffers, but it’s still there. Of course, customers may be rightly fearful about the nasties Autodesk may introduce in future to “persuade” perpetual license owners into subscription subservience, but we’re not there yet and it’s misleading to imply that we are.

What else?

Your perpetual license is a valuable asset. But, if it cannot be upgraded and maintained, it loses all of its value.

It’s true that your perpetual license is a valuable asset. It’s misleading to imply that Autodesk perpetual licenses can’t be maintained. Maintenance is still available, although Autodesk is making it more expensive.

It’s misleading to imply that perpetual licenses can’t be upgraded. It’s true that Autodesk stopped selling upgrades to non-maintenance customers a while ago (having earlier priced them out of the market and then disingenuously citing lack of demand as the excuse for dropping them). But perpetual licenses under maintenance agreements can be upgraded (and are; it’s the biggest part of the deal). They’re obviously also being maintained, so Bentley’s not being fully frank there either.

Finally, a non-upgradable off-maintenance perpetual license does not lose all of its value. It’s still a valuable tool that is capable of doing useful work and generating income for years to come. That’s kind of the point of perpetual licenses; you can stop paying anybody anything and still use the product. In Europe you can even still sell the product.

Elsewhere, Bentley promotes its licensing flexibility. It’s true that Bentley’s continued support for perpetual licenses and availability of rental (term licenses in Bentleyspeak) means it’s 100% more flexible than Autodesk. That doesn’t make it all hunky dory in Bentley license land, though. I don’t see any mention of Bentley’s practice of rounding up your network license use to your detriment, allowing you to silently overshoot your license allowance, then sending you a huge punitive invoice at the end of the billing period.

To be fair, I wouldn’t expect to see that mentioned in marketing materials. But if you have a look at what Bentley customers have had to say about it, particularly from those people who have been over-billed because Bentley has counted license use unfairly, you’ll see that it doesn’t go down at all well with customers. So bear that in mind if you’re thinking of taking up Bentley on this or any other offer.

The rest of the marketing blurb seems fair enough, even if some of the clichéd stock photos are a bit groan-inducing. However, its effectiveness is severely curtailed by its failure to provide details of exactly what is being offered and under what conditions. As I noted with a previous Bentley attempt, curious customers are expected to fill in an online form to obtain information, and that’s a barrier.

It seems I need to repeat something I wrote in an earlier post:

Raise your game, people; we’re not all stupid out here. If you can’t support your argument with the truth, then your argument isn’t a good one and you need to rethink it.

I’m used to Autodesk doing dumb things because it has forgotten to learn from its own history, including pretty recent history in some cases. This episode seems to indicate that Bentley has the same problem.

Bentley, here’s some free advice. You don’t need to exaggerate in order to make Autodesk’s treatment of customers look bad. Autodesk is doing a magnificent job of that without any help. The facts are enough. Also, if you have a great offer, just tell us what it is. OK?


  1. James Maeding

    It seems to me if one can “move” to ustn from acad, they did not have that strong of an acad affinity to begin with, and therefore should easily move to bricscad instead. Ustn is not some simple set of classes to learn. The commands are run through different input patterns than serious acad users are used to, and that does not go away. I did the transition once for a two year project and never got up to acad efficiency because there is no easy macro language like lisp with a community supporting it. So people that switch jump down to “mostly built-in command” land and that is a shock to any company who had their act together in acad land, forget about money issues.

    1. Steve Johnson

      Agreed. MicroStation is fairly different to use but the real killer is if you have a custom setup. You need to throw it away and start again. Transitioning to BricsCAD is way, way easier. I had one of my team leaders tell me his AutoCAD people would need zero training to use BricsCAD at least as productively as AutoCAD.

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