Autodesk remotely killswitches AutoCAD licenses – again

Following the AutoCAD 2019 rollout disaster, where subscription users found their AutoCAD 2018s were broken by an Autodesk licensing system meltdown, Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost issued an apology. He also assured customers on Twitter that it wouldn’t happen again: While I welcomed that, I did have this to say at the time: I don’t think such a guarantee is realistic, given that the nature of subscription software is to only work when it knows you’ve paid up. At least it demonstrates that the desire is there right at the top to try to prevent such debacles from occurring in future. …

Why One AutoCAD is smart strategy

OK, so Autodesk may have blown the AutoCAD 2019 rollout, triggering an apology from CEO Andrew Anagnost. OK, AutoCAD 2019 may have the smallest set of significant advances in the history of AutoCAD releases. If you’re wondering, I give it 1/10. The “there can be only one” hype could easily refer to meaningful improvements to the product per year. This year’s improvement is… drawing compare! Still, AutoCAD 2019 is a significant release for reasons beyond the content of the core product. An examination of the One AutoCAD strategy reveals a collective corporate mind that’s smarter than it’s being given credit …

AutoCAD 2019 rollout disaster

If you’re an AutoCAD user, you may have been intrigued by the news about the new way Autodesk is bundling up AutoCAD 2019 with various verticals (perpetual license owners need not apply). This is Autodesk’s latest attempt to promote its subscription model and raise prices again. 7% this time, but much more to come. But never mind that, the main point is that you’re getting a whole lot of stuff, and who could say that’s not a good thing? So it’s most unfortunate for Autodesk that the AutoCAD 2019 rollout has been an unmitigated disaster. My own experiences in trying …

Autodesk subscription offer – the first cracks appear in the all-rental wall

Thanks to a comment by Fabien, I recently learned of a new offer from Autodesk to convert perpetual licenses to subscription (rental). It turns out that this is a global offer from 7 February to 20 April 2018. Such offers come and go from time to time and most are not particularly interesting. This one is. Not because you’ll want to take it up (you probably won’t), but because of what it represents. Here’s how it appears on Autodesk’s site: What’s really interesting about this offer is this sentence: If you are not satisfied, you can switch back to your …

Autodesk kills ArtCAM, proves subscription is terrible for customers

This story goes back over 50 years. A British company called Delcam was founded in 1965 and developed many products. These included ArtCAM, an application for producing 3D parts using 2D artwork as a base. It won a Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2003. In 2014, Autodesk acquired Delcam for approximately USD$286 Million and ArtCAM (among others) became an Autodesk product. As with all Autodesk products, sales of perpetual licenses ceased a couple of years ago. Owners of perpetual licenses were encouraged to ditch them and switch to subscription instead. Financially encouraged, with “discounts” and promises of price rises for …

Too soon? Autodesk cancels 30% subscription price increase

Autodesk had announced plans to increase some subscription prices by 30% on 7 November 2017. Resellers have already passed that information on to customers. Here’s the detail of what was going to happen: Three Important Changes to Subscriptions with Multi-User Access Autodesk is increasing prices on subscriptions with multi-user access to reflect the value and flexibility that sharing licenses provides our customers. As part of this change, we will stop selling new subscriptions with multi-user access for select products. Beginning November 7, 2017: Prices for new and renewing subscriptions with multi-user access for most individual products are increasing by ~17-19%. …

Repost: Autodesk Subscription – it could be worse

This is a repost of Autodesk Subscription – it could be worse from 18 April 2010. I’m posting this to show that I’m not just having a go at Autodesk’s policies because they’re from Autodesk. I’m having a go at those policies because they are reprehensible. Whoever it is that’s being anti-customer, spinning bullshit, or otherwise misbehaving, they can expect to receive a brutally honest critique here. It’s interesting that in this old post I pointed out that this policy was bad business. (Not quite the expression I used, but the sentiment was there). My agreement with Buzz Kross on …

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 …

AutoCAD 2018.1 released, but only for some

Autodesk has released the AutoCAD (and LT) 2018.1 Update, not to be confused with the earlier ill-fated 2018.0.1 Update. It’s only available for currently-paying subscription and maintenance customers. The “non critical” bug fixes in this Update (by Autodesk’s definition) are being withheld from Autodesk’s other customers. Those of you who have allowed your maintenance to expire due to Autodesk’s development inaction and unjustified price increases can consider yourselves duly punished for failing to fall into line. If you have the execrable Autodesk desktop app installed (not recommended) and it works as expected, this update will present itself to you. Otherwise, …

Autodesk Senior Vice President tells it like it is

I didn’t expect to see any comment about the policy of denying bug fixes to some customers from any Autodesk high-ups, but I was mistaken.

Here’s a quote on just this subject from Autodesk Senior Vice President1, Buzz Kross:

It’s just bad business. Why would you not want to take care of your customers? I would never do that. Come on, we all make mistakes. All software has bugs and as a developer, I have an obligation to provide fixes to all my paying customers, whether they are on subscription or not. Customers on subscription have the advantage of getting access to new stuff. That’s fine. But denying them access to bug fixes is just not right.

Buzz Kross, Senior Vice President, Autodesk1
9 April 2010


Photo: Autodesk

It’s not often I so completely agree with an Autodesk executive1, but I can find no fault in his logic. Thank you, Buzz.


1. Although Buzz is still listed as a SVP in some Autodesk online materials, he’s no longer with the company.

Autodesk confirms its own unconscionable conduct

It took several attempts over a period of months and was like pulling teeth, but Autodesk has now confirmed that it is deliberately withholding bug fixes from some of its customers. 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 …

Further Autodesk subscription inflexibility

Autodesk’s claim that its all-rental business model adds flexibility for customers has always been bullshit. That’s a self-evident truth. Nobody believes that removing customers’ purchasing options amounts to anything but inflexibility. Particularly when the purchasing option removed is that preferred by the vast majority of customers. But wait! There’s more! I recently discovered that it’s even more inflexible than I originally thought! If you sign up for single-user (standalone) subscription licenses you’re stuck with them for the duration of your agreement. You can’t upgrade them to multi-user (network) licenses. Doesn’t matter how much cash you wave in Autodesk’s face, or …

Bentley marketers love Autodesk

Bentley Systems marketers are currently taking advantage of Autodesk customers’ distaste for the Big A’s rent-or-GTFO business model. For any Autodesk competitor, this is a fairly smart move. Autodesk has offered a free kick to its competitors and is betting on them all kicking the ball wide of the net. How accurate is Bentley’s shooting? In this case, AutoCAD customers are being encouraged to take up MicroStation. Via the Cadalyst Direct opt-in advertising list, I received an email entitled AutoCAD Users, you need options. We listened: Talk about feeling trapped (which has many Autodesk customers angry), options and flexibility (which …

Autodesk subscription offer begins today

It’s 15 June, which means all of those millions of Autodesk customers with perpetual licenses on maintenance can now give those licenses back to Autodesk and rent them back for about the same amount. Tempted? Despite Autodesk’s best efforts to sell this deal as a silk purse, it’s a real pig’s ear. Artificially raising maintenance prices doesn’t make the subscription changeover deal any more attractive. It only serves to annoy those customers too sensible to throw away their valuable perpetual licences in return for a temporary price freeze and the vaguest of promises not to gouge you in future. History …

AutoCAD 2018 licensing crash – another reason to avoid subscription

Autodesk has released an update to fix the following AutoCAD 2018 problem:

Product users of version 2018 Autodesk single-user subscriptions may experience an intermittent crash. The crash occurs when it has been more than 24 hours since the last successful authorization check and there is intermittent or no internet connection, or the licensing authorization server is unavailable. The licensing authorization check occurs in the background and is completely unrelated to activities the user is performing at the time of the crash.
A fatal error message may be shown by the product. For example:

FATAL ERROR: Unhandled e06d7363h Exception at ee563c58h

 
Links:

Note that this crash only afflicts subscription (rental) single-user (standalone) customers. People with perpetual licenses don’t have to put up with the multiple additional points of failure caused by the subscription licensing system insisting on phoning home every 30 days. Yes, even if you pay for three years’ subscription up front, you’ll still need a working Internet connection every 30 days if you want to keep using the product.

At least, Autodesk has been saying it’s only once every 30 days (as if that wasn’t bad enough). The information provided with this hotfix tells a different story. What is the license server doing phoning home 24 hours after the last successful authorization check? Enquiring minds want to know.

No criticism of Autodesk is implied for providing this hotfix. As always, I commend Autodesk for fixing up problems as they arise. The basis of my criticism is the hotfix being necessary in the first place. It’s caused by Autodesk inflicting unnecessary complication on its customers for its own internal reasons. This one fails the “how does this benefit the customer?” test big-time.

The single-user subscription licensing mechanism has been a crock from day one, especially for CAD Managers of multiple users who have to deal with its onerous requirements. It’s an astonishingly poor design, very badly implemented. Even with this particular crash fixed, it’s still a crock.

ADSK celebrates two full years of losses

Autodesk Reports Strong First Quarter Results, says the press release. Autodesk co-CEO Amar Hanspal: Broad-based strength across all subscription types and geographies led to another record quarter for total subscription additions and a fantastic start of the new fiscal year. Customers continue to embrace the subscription model, and we’re expanding our market opportunity with continued momentum of our cloud-based offerings, such as BIM 360 and Fusion 360.   Autodesk co-CEO Andrew Anagnost: We’re executing well and making significant progress on our business model transition as evidenced by our first quarter results. We’re starting the year from a position of strength …

Teresa from Autodesk in subscription interview

As a follow-up to the Pixel Fondue video I posted about earlier, Greg from Pixel Fondue conducted a follow-up interview with Teresa Anania, Autodesk’s Senior Director, Subscription Success. Greg and I asked for your questions for Teresa and I passed on several of my own to him. A word of warning: don’t do as I did and watch through all 54 minutes waiting increasingly impatiently for those questions to come up. They don’t. Anyway, thanks to Greg for conducting this interview and to Teresa for participating. Greg has now posted the video. Here’s the TL;DW (too long; didn’t watch) version: …

The big Bricsys interview 5 – perpetual licensing and choice

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. In this post, Erik confirms the Bricsys commitment to perpetual licensing. That’s a statement important enough to preserve, so here’s the recorded audio for posterity. We also learn what proportion of CAD customers choose perpetual licenses over rental when given fair pricing and the choice. Hint to Autodesk: it’s not 0%. Steve: Are you committed to the perpetual licensing model? Erik: Yes, yes. We are committed to choice. If somebody wants another way of licensing our …

Clearing up the Autodesk rental / subscription / maintenance naming confusion

Some people are confused by Autodesk’s naming terminology about subscription, maintenance and rental. This is entirely Autodesk’s fault, because it took a name (Subscription) which had a long-established meaning (including perpetual licensing) and used that name (but without its initial capital) to mean the opposite (no perpetual licensing). There was a brief period, only last year, where the S word meant both things at the same time and differentiation between the opposing meanings was achieved using different prefixes. Confused yet? I’m not sure whether it’s kinder to view Autodesk doing something so obviously confusing as merely incompetence in communication or …