CAD Manager's Newsletter (#350)

25 Aug, 2015 By: Robert Green

Autodesk Software Goes Subscription-Only in 2016

With major licensing policy changes on the way, it's essential to make a plan for how you'll purchase seats of AutoCAD and other software titles.

I've received many questions about the big changes in 2016 licensing terms from Autodesk. These policies will force companies to make financial decisions with long-term impacts by January 2016, so you must start planning now — while you still have time to get your management on board. In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I will address these questions and give CAD managers some key pieces of information for planning purposes. Here goes.

Note: I realize that not everyone reading this uses Autodesk software, but if Autodesk's changes take hold, it is reasonable to assume that other CAD software vendors will implement similar policies, which will require similar planning strategies.

Transition to Rental Software

If you've been following the past few editions of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, you're already aware that Autodesk will no longer sell individual products, such as AutoCAD, under "perpetual licensing" terms after January 2016. Starting next January, an annual rental plan — what Autodesk calls a desktop subscription — will require you to rent the software in monthly or yearly installments. More comprehensive software suites, where multiple programs are bundled together, are not subject to the new policy yet, but are slated to make the transition in 2017, according to press releases from earlier this year.

Before we delve deeper into evaluating the transition from perpetual to rental licensing, let's clarify the vocabulary involved. In addition to defining the key terms below, I include a reference price for each type of plan, based on an AutoCAD-only license. This way we'll have a consistent set of terminologies and a reference point so we can perform cost analyses.

Perpetual license: This is the traditional "buy it once" software license we've all purchased in the past. For a single seat of AutoCAD, the perpetual license cost is currently $4,195.

Maintenance subscription: Often simply called "subscription," this is the annual support contract for perpetual licenses that entitles you to all updates to the product. The maintenance subscription keeps your perpetual license up to date and gives you access to utilities and cloud services, provided you renew it each year. The single-seat AutoCAD maintenance subscription cost is $545 per year.

Desktop subscription: This is Autodesk's term for software rental. If you renew your desktop subscription each year, you are entitled to all updates, utilities, and cloud services. A single-seat AutoCAD desktop subscription costs $1,680 per year.

What Are Your Options?Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox

Autodesk Software Calculator

When you're ready to start planning your company's licensing future, you can use this sample spreadsheet to calculate 3- and 5-year scenarios for rent vs. buy software decisions. While this spreadsheet is intended to help analyze software strategies for Autodesk products in 2016, you can use it for other software vendors as well.

You can download the spreadsheet from my web site at:

Perpetual vs. Rental Software Calculator

To compute more scenarios, just input more values for other software titles as required.

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

U.S. CAD Market Forecasted to Grow 4%
Online market research firm Research and Markets has published "CAD Market in the US 2015–2019" ($2,500, PDF, single user), which forecasts the CAD market in the United States will grow 4% CAGR during that period. The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market.

As-Built BIM and Urban Renewal Webinar Available On-Demand
ClearEdge is offering an on-demand webinar that discusses as-built building information modelling (BIM) and urban renewal. Presenters discuss case studies of mixed-use redevelopment projects in Los Angeles and Puerto Rico as examples of the possibilities of as-built BIM. The webinar is available at no charge after registering on the website.

:: Events

Analyzing Optimizations in Inspire
August 27, 2015
2 p.m. ET
This solidThinking 20-minute tip will discuss analyzing optimizations in Inspire. Read more »

Introduction to Ideate Sticky
August 27, 2015
11:30 a.m. PT
This Ideate webinar will discuss Ideate Sticky, which reportedly connects non-BIM (building information modeling) data from an Excel file into a Revit project. Read more »

Revit Technology Conference 2015 Asia
Sept. 10–12, 2015
This user conference focuses on the use of Revit and other BIM processes in the architecture, engineering, construction, and facilities management industries. Read more »

3D Printshow California
Sept. 11–12, 2015
Pasadena, California
This event focuses on the 3D printing/additive manufacturing industry, featuring industrial AM machines, desktop 3D printers, and everything in between. Read more »

28th Annual Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) Users Group Conference
April 3–7, 2016
St. Louis, Missouri
The annual Additive Manufacturing Users Group Conference was developed for both novice and expert users seeking insights, assistance, and guidance on technologies, applications, and processes. 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

Free Whitepaper: Is Cloud-Based CAD Ready for Prime Time?
This whitepaper, compiled from a three-part series by CAD hardware expert and Cadalyst contributing editor Alex Herrera, examines the benefits — and the challenges — of running CAD on the cloud. Read more »

First Look Review: MSI WT72 20M
Affordable mobile workstation with big, bright display is well suited to client presentations, but not equipped for demanding design work. Read more »

Cyon Research Launches New CAD Use Survey
Help shape the direction of engineering software, and learn what your peers — and competitors — are doing as well. Read more »

Video Tip: Super-Speedy In-Place Attribute Editing
In AutoCAD, when you double-click on a block with attributes, you can easily edit many aspects of your attributes. But what if you just want to edit the attribute values — and you want to do it in place right on the screen (not in a dialog box)? In this video tip from Cadalyst and Lynn Allen, you'll learn the special key combination that allows you to do just that — so you can be the fastest attribute editor in your company! Watch the video »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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