CAD Manager's Newsletter (#337)

11 Feb, 2015 By: Robert Green

How Will You Buy CAD Software in 2016?

Autodesk and other software developers are moving toward subscription-only access to software. The time to plan for the transition is now!

Last week, Autodesk shook things up by announcing that it is moving toward a subscription-only business model and will no longer sell perpetual software licenses for standalone desktop software products. While the policy shift has been rumored for awhile, it's now official, and companies that are not already on and Autodesk subscription plan or cloud service will need to evaluate how they want to manage their software moving forward. And, of course, it goes without saying that CAD managers must be involved in planning for this new software landscape.

It's important to note that this change will affect only those customers who already own perpetual licenses of standalone desktop software; it does not affect customers using Autodesk product suites or those already on a desktop subscription plan or using cloud services. For details about the announcement, see "Autodesk Announces Subscription-Only Access for Standalone Desktop Software" on the Cadalyst web site and two online FAQs from Autodesk, Perpetual Licensing Changes and Autodesk Standalone Perpetual License Discontinuation Public FAQ (PDF).

More and more software developers are moving away from perpetual license sales and toward subscription, or rental, as their only means of distributing their wares. So examining the trend is worthwhile, no matter which brands of software you use. In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, we will examine some cost and licensing scenarios that you may have to consider as you plan for next year and beyond. Here goes.

Defining License Terms and Costs

Of course, not everyone uses Autodesk software, but I'll go ahead and use the company's terminology here along with AutoCAD suggested retail pricing as I build some example scenarios. Most software companies these days have essentially the same types of licensing, so all you have to do is plug in the appropriate numbers for your software to follow along.

Perpetual License: A software license you own that runs with no time limits. A perpetual license for one seat of standalone AutoCAD 2015 is $4,195.

Maintenance Subscription: An annual maintenance contract that you can purchase with a perpetual license to keep the software up to date. Maintenance Subscription for AutoCAD is $545 per year.

Desktop Subscription: An annual or monthly rental contract that entitles you to run the latest version of the software. At the end of the rental period, if you don't renew, the software stops working. Desktop Subscription for AutoCAD is $1,680 per year or $210 per month.

Now let's compare the total cost of ownership over three years for these three plans:

Perpetual Becomes Legacy

A quick glance at the table above shows that the best value is derived when you continue maintaining existing licenses under existing Maintenance Subscription agreements. In fact, this deal is so much better than moving to Desktop Subscription that it would be crazy to do anything else — assuming you already have perpetual licenses in place and don't foresee the need to upgrade your software. Maintaining a legacy license will cost $545 per year, about one-third the cost of Desktop Subscription. According to Autodesk, perpetual licenses can remain on Maintenance Subscription indefinitely, as long as the subscription is not allowed to expire.

An interesting twist of pricing — which I suspect is not an accident — shows that acquiring a new perpetual license makes less financial sense over a three-year timeframe than does Desktop Subscription. Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox

Alert! Windows 10 Coming Soon

If you have to support users, you've no doubt had to explain operating system features at some point. And, while Windows 8 has gone over with a colossal thud in CAD environments, all indications show that Windows 10 will be a much better experience.

I've only had the chance to experiment with Windows 10 on a demo machine, but I have to say I love the return to the classic Windows 7 desktop interface and am a Windows 10 fan already. The recrafted tiles that comprised the primary interface in Windows 8 are now usable within the conventional desktop interface so that a Windows 7 user can get right to work. Try that with Windows 8!

To get a more broad description of Windows 10 have a look at, "It May Just Be Everything That Windows 8 Should Have Been," an excellent post by Nate Ralph of CNET.

Ralph goes through a wide swath of information covering all sorts of interface aspects, some of which you may not care about, but the sections on multiple desktops, application windows, and the new Action Center make for interesting reading.

Sooner or later you're going to have to deal with Windows 10 in your CAD environments, right? Might as well read up on it now! Read more »

Do you have a helpful tip, recommendation, or question for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at If I use your tip in the newsletter, you'll receive a Cadalyst prize!


:: Resources

Pointers Available Online for Iray+ Users
Lightworks has launched a series of articles about Iray+, the company's interactive, photorealistic rendering software based on NVIDIA's global illumination Iray technology. The company will post a new article each month throughout 2015. The first Iray+ feature article focuses on the core functionality of the Iray+ render modes, detailing the advantages offered by each.

:: Events

3D Scanning for CAD
February 12, 2015
11 a.m. PT
This NextEngine webinar will demonstrate the workflow of scanning and converting mesh scan data into editable CAD solids using RapidWorks software. Read more »

Reverse Engineering with RapidWorks
February 19, 2015
11 a.m. PT
Viewers of this NextEngine webinar will learn how to turn NextEngine Mesh models into parametric solid models using RapidWorks v3.5. Read more »

One-Click 3D Model Creation with the Multidrive
February 26, 2015
11 a.m. PT
In this NextEngine webinar, presenters will show how to automate the scanning of 3D objects using the NextEngine Multidrive turntable. Read more »

COFES 2015
April 16–19, 2015
Scottsdale, Arizona
The theme of this year's Congress on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES) is "Stepping Back to See the Big Picture." Read more »

Vectorworks Design Summit
April 27–29, 2015
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This Nemetschek Vectorworks conference will include product training, best practices, networking, entertainment, and more. Read more »

Revit Technology Conference (RTC) Europe
October 29–31, 2015
Budapest, Hungary
Those who attend the third European RTC will hear from experts in the field and learn tips and tricks, practical methods, and fresh ideas. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

:: What's New at

Autodesk Announces Subscription-Only Access for Standalone Desktop Software
Beginning in February 2016, customers who own perpetual licenses without a Maintenance Subscription will have to move to a subscription plan the next time they upgrade. Read more »

3Dconnexion Introduces CadMouse
Coming soon, the device aims to meet the needs — and overcome the mouse-related frustrations — of CAD users. Read more »

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Take Flight with Free-Form Tools in Inventor 2015
Traditional Autodesk Inventor modeling tools do not readily lend themselves to creating smooth organic shapes. Free-form modeling, however, allows these shapes to be created quickly and easily. Read more »

Herrera on Hardware: Do You Have the Power? Part 1
The best processors in the world won't do you any good if your workstation's power supply isn't up to the task. Read more »

SolidWorks Tutorial: Map Materials in SolidWorks 2015
In this tutorial from Matt Perez of Infinite Skills, you'll see how to work with some of the built-in options for mapping materials in SolidWorks 2015. Watch the video »

Navisworks Tutorial: Use Switchback to View Navisworks Files in AutoCAD or Revit
Author Brian Meyers shows how to use the program's Switchback feature to quickly view a project in AutoCAD or Revit within a comprehensive workflow. Watch the video »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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