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Jul 05, 2006


Richard Williams

Interesting revolution. Maybe the Business Administrators of the Vendor Companies will sit up and take notice now. It's hard enough to compete and when you have a constant draining of monies to keep your tools sharp and clean it can tip the scales to help sink a company. If it can truly be said that we are all in this together and dependant upon one another why haven't the Vendors understood this? High fees drive the undergroung economy just like Prohibition did in this country. Raise any price too high and Survival techniques take hold or will soon be developed. Customer satisfaction and loyalty can go right out the window when prices go over a certain limit. The buying public looks to hold onto their money longer these days and the vendors have a very limited comsumer base so why are they trying to kill them off?

dale kopp

Much as I love AutoCAD, I think that frequent upgrades are the death knell for Autodesk.

AutoCAD is still the most widely used software in my region but other CAD applications are gaining on it.

Why purchase, deploy and learn a software that is going to be obsolete in a year?

Rick Yeates

I experienced the problem of users revolting against software upgrades around AutoCAD 2004. We (the IT department) pushed the upgrade and the users pushed back. They want to practice Architecture not AutoCAD! I have clients on subscription that skip releases of AutoCAD. One client received and never deployed AutoCAD 2006. They are thinking about deploying AutoCAD 2007.

In Autodesk's case I believe yearly upgrades are all about their desire to stabalize the stock! To have an incentive for users to buy into the software subscription, Autodesk must provide some value (incentive). The incentive seems to be the latest and greatest in the form of an upgrade. Who would sign up for a subscription if there wasn't the promise of an upgrade?

The cost of an upgrade is minor compaired to the costs involved in delivering it to the end user! There are cost associated with loading, learning, modifying, and using a new release. Not to mention the cost of upgrades to equipment to keep up with the bloated system requirements Autodesk products are demanding.

I tried to warn people some time ago about subscription. So here it comes. I told ya so!

Martyn Day

No surprises here. Yearly subscription fees benefit the vendor more than the user, fact. The only users that like subscription fees are really big ones that don't want the hassle. A natural cycle is 2-3 years. The problem with subscription is that users rarely get to see the value and while folks like Autodesk are adding interesting new stuff to the releases each year, companies just can't adopt at that rate and therefore dont see the value in subscription. The long term result of a yearly subscription and product release is unsatisfied customers of mature products. I've started to hear from dealers how it's hard to sell subscription today, as companies dont see what they get in return and have been upset at what they have gotten so far. People have stopped moaning about the cost of AutoCAD, they now start moaning about the cost of maintaining AutoCAD and those on verticals will pay even more. Bentley thinks it has the high ground but talking with its customers, SELECT is also seen as a burden, despite the many things it offers, as they can't adopt new releases of MicroStation as their projects take literally years on each platform. CAD vendor subscription offerings have to think more about how users extract the value and they could extract more- if the CAD vendors don't realise this, they will be seen as a just taxing its customers in return for shelf-ware.

John Chapman

Without the accelerating cycle of new versions, AutoDESK would probably go under. We used to sell AutoCAD and the pressure to 'force' users to upgrade was enormous. New versions were always seen as a considerable opportunity for vendors to make money out of upgrades and training. In fact, the margins on upgrades were so poor and the costs of keeping staff trained so high that we made little money out of it. The users were the worst off, the vendors perhaps marginally in pocket but the clear winners were AutoDESK. Faced with falling sales in a mature market AutoDESK quickly accelerated product replacement, introduced early product retirement and more stringent dealer 'training' (from AutoDESK, of course). We saw the writing on the wall and left the dealer program to concentrate on our main business, structural design software.

Many of our customers still use AutoCAD and are always complaining about product retirement, changing of DWG standards etc. (Some are still very happy using 2000 based products)

Mel Whiteside

As a community college instructor, I couldn't agree more with the revolting against CAD companies updating on an annual basis. This is something I have been trying to accomplish in Kansas for four years. CAD companies aren’t listening to their customers and continue on with their flagrant rhetoric that it’s for our benefit to upgrade every 12 months. Give me a break!

It is in the best interest of CAD companies to provide an upgrade every 12 months to keep their pockets full of cash. However, it costs educational institutions, students and taxpayers more to keep CAD upgraded on an annual basis. Colleges, if they want to remain competitive and prepare their students on the latest software, have to keep their CAD software upgraded - CAD companies know this and provoke it!

Additionally, students can't resell their books or own an outdated book one year later.

CAD vendors, rethink your strategies and try placing the customer first. Knock it off with your selfish motivation to generate more revenue and please your stock holders or otherwise. Your rhetoric of “it’s for the benefit of the customer” has worn off and is longer accepted. We've wised up to your targeted strategies – more revenue. Stop treating your customers like ignorant peasants - WE'RE not going to stand for it!

Educators - I encourage you to STOP upgrading your software on an annual basis and upgrade every two to three years. After all, most companies do not upgrade as often.

Revolt we will! And, in the end, we will succeed!

IMHO I feel that the subscription program would better serve the end users if the release cycles were to revert to the 2-3 year release cycle.

In the interim, the cad vendor would supply fixes, patches and major wish list items to justify the cost of the subscription. Using the number of times a wish list items is downloaded and reviewed, the cad vendor would have a compass as what direction the cad community, including the vertical markets, would like to see the software progress. Most end users would feel more in control of what useful features are being incorporated into the software. The best tools Autodesk came out with were the Express Tools. We need more items like those provided in basic Autocad and all the verticle markets areas. PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS!!!!!!! Not a lot of useless interfaces.

At this point, spending monies on the subscription would make more sense to management. End users would become more proficient and productive for a longer period of time. Selling user training to management would become clear-cut once the bean counters amortized the cost over a 3 year period rather than a 1 year period.

I would implore the cad vendors to think this over. Our main goal is to make profit, just like them, from the software. If the cost of ownership becomes too high, then a change in the way we do business will become a necessity.

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