The warning shot was fired last November. It came in the form of a notice to Autodesk customers. This was perhaps the portion that deserves to be in red letters:
As of February 1, 2015, Autodesk will no longer offer the option to purchase upgrades for all non-current product versions.
In other words, if you’re still using older versions of the company’s software (say, AutoCAD 2008 or Inventor 2010), you have until February 2015 to buy an upgrade to move to the latest version. If you want to get the latest version after February 2015, you’ll have to pay full price for the new version; you won’t have the option to pay the upgrade fee to get it.
It’s unclear how many commercial and education customers are affected by this, but according to Autodesk’s FAQ, “The upgrade policy change will affect all customers, both direct customers and non-direct customers, who purchase software without Autodesk Subscription.”
The move is Autodesk’s nudge (for some, it might feel like a push) to get its customers onto the subscription model and the rental model, introduced in Septemberly 2013. Andrew Anagnost, Autodesk’s senior VP of industry strategy and marketing, told investors in a conference call, “Upgrades are a small part of our business, and we want customers to get the latest technology and updates from us and the best vehicle for customers that own perpetual license to do that is Maintenance Subscription.”
The policy change doesn not spell the end of perpetual licenses from Autodesk, but it’s a clear sign that Autodesk wants to sell not just the license but a subscription along with it. The company’s FAQ states, “At this time, Autodesk has no plans to change the licensing model across the board for all products. Perpetual licenses with Subscription continue to be a very important part of our portfolio.” (Italic emphasis is mine.)
Ryan McVay, a CAD/PLM system administrator and analyst, imagined a scenario where this upgrade policy could become a dilemma for a user. “If the company doesn’t have such a good year and decides they can’t pay maintenance and they miss a year of subscription, they would then need to repurchase to get the latest version (one version back). That is a steep price to pay for missing one year.”
Edward Lopategui, a technology evangelist and entrepreneur, believes the policy brings the company “one step closer towards Adobe’s philosophy … to kill the perpetual license entirely.”
Last May, when Adobe announced it would no longer offer its most popular product, Creative Suites, under perpetual licensing, but would only offer it under subscription, as Adobe Cloud, it caused an uproar among some of its users.
At least for now, Autodesk isn’t suggesting that’s what it plans to do. But along with Autodesk, Dassault Systemes and Siemens PLM Software are testing the water with rental option.
How does this upgrade policy change affect your business? Share your thoughts in our LinkedIn discussion thread here.