SolidWorks: Exploring Mac OS But No Timetable For Delivery

The presentation at SolidWorks World, the company clarifies, was meant to show that cloud-based technology is platform-independent. Contrary to the impression it gave, the demo wasn't meant as a promise that what was previewed -- specifically, SolidWorks on Mac -- would appear as a commercial product in the near future.

The presentation at SolidWorks World, the company clarifies, was meant to show that cloud-based technology is platform-independent. Contrary to the impression it gave, the demo wasn't meant as a promise that what was previewed -- specifically, SolidWorks on Mac -- would appear as a commercial product in the near future.

Hold your applause for SolidWorks on Mac! It may be premature.

After previewing what looked like SolidWorks running inside Mac OS at SolidWorks World 2010 earlier this month, the company reveals it can’t commit to delivering a native Mac version of SolidWorks in the foreseeable future.

“Mac users will have better access to tools from Dassault Systemes SolidWorks in the future; however, we have no plans for our SolidWorks CAD product as it exists today to become available as a native Mac application,” said Fielder Hiss, SolidWorks’ VP of product management.

So what exactly did the presenters show the audience during the main stage presentation? According to Hiss, they demonstrated “[cloud-]hosted versions of prototype applets running on [a PC with] Windows 7, on a Wacom tablet, on an all-in-one Mac workstation, a netbook, and an iPhone.”

In other words, the audience did not see anything running as native application, installed on Mac, though at times the presentation appeared so.

(Note: This, however, contradicts SolidWorks CTO Austin O’Malley’s explanation of the technologies shown at the conference. He wrote, “The iMac and Windows 7 devices were running native implementations of the software, while the netbook was accessing a hosted version of the software through a thin client interface,” in a blog post.)

The point of the demonstrating with multiple computing platforms, Hiss explained, was to show that “with cloud-based technology, platform is irrelevant. Essentially, it lets people use any device they feel comfortable using.”

Browser-accessible hosted software doesn’t rely on the operating system of a user’s machine to boot and run, so it’s bound to be available to anyone logging in using a supported browser. But placating Mac fans with this approach is, at best, a compromise, because it doesn’t take full advantage of the Mac hardware and OS.

“We developed [these preview codes] to be platform-independent,” said Hiss, “but if we choose to at any time deliver them as native versions, we can deliver them as native Mac, Linux, Windows versions.”

The prototype code and applets demonstrated at the conference, he added, are all fully functional (in other words, not mock-ups representing concepts).

At SolidWorks World, one thing became abundantly clear to SolidWorks developers. “There are lots of people excited about Mac,” acknowledged Hiss. “We continue to watch [the platform], prototype things [for it], but we just don’t have a time line on exactly when we can deliver these as products.”

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