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Autodesk One Step Closer to Subscription-Only Service

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In a press release today Autodesk announced it is another step closer in its transition to an all subscription service. The company first announced the plan at an investor's meeting last October. At that meeting, Senior VP Andrew Anagnost explained that the company sees a consistently large number of perpetual license users year after year, and that this group represents a "huge opportunity" for revenue. One of the reasons cited by Autodesk rep, Noah Cole for the move to a pay-as-you-go service was to avoid software version lag that occurs when perpetual license users skip upgrades. The lag makes it difficult for other companies that build on top of Autodesk's software to provide products. "When you have a lot of people using significantly older versions of the software," Cole states, "it becomes really difficult for those companies to support so many different versions." cont image1 Some fear that, while the move might increase the value of customer service, it also is detrimental to some perpetual license artists. For example, freelance artists who find older versions of software just as effective as new releases might be forced to pay more (i.e. upgrade to new versions), especially if the new version has specific minimum hardware requirements. For Autodesk, however, keeping every user up-to-date has many more benefits than downfalls. "Having everyone current on the same version will enable Autodesk to much more rapidly develop and innovate our software," states Cole. The benefit in this case would be a cheaper product overall with faster upgrade times. The press release states that the change will offer "a simplified installation, management and upgrade experience, flexible payment terms, and broader access rights across multiple devices." Still, for some users, subscriptions simply mean never owning the software outright. Instead of eventually paying for Maya, owning the license, and reaping the rewards of your investment, you will simply pay for it as long as you use it. Essentially, you're renting it just as a film studio might rent lighting equipment. Some fear over time this would actually end up costing artists much more money or prompt them to select another software. One upside for the market overall is that lower costs up front and monthly services can allow those who normally couldn't pay for a perpetual license fee a chance to get in the game quicker. In today's press release, Anagnost states that he believes a subscription service will provide "greater flexibility and more value from [Autodesk's] software investments. The shift to subscription allows Autodesk to deliver both, as well as an improved user experience and easier access to a broader portfolio of technology.” Autodesk began the move to subscription with its maintenance subscription, which requires monthly or year payments. The press release also said customers will be given a year to make the transition as smooth as possible. Perpetual license owners who have purchased prior to February 1, 2016, they will be able to continue to use those licenses in perpetuity. Autodesk says it anticipates a rise in perpetual licenses due to the announcement. Below is the press release in its entirety:

SAN RAFAEL, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today Autodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq:ADSK) announced that new commercial seats of most standalone desktop software products will be available only by Desktop Subscription beginning February 1, 2016. Through these changes, Autodesk is continuing its transition to subscription-based offerings for its products, which provide customers a simplified product management and deployment experience, and makes it easier to introduce new tools and technology into the workflow with lower upfront cost and the ability to pay as you go.

“How the world is designed and made is changing, and how software is delivered is changing as well. The companies that embrace these changes will lead their industries toward a more nimble, connected and richer future,” said Andrew Anagnost, Autodesk senior vice president of Industry Strategy & Marketing. “Our customers have long asked for greater flexibility and more value from their software investments. The shift to subscription allows Autodesk to deliver both, as well as an improved user experience and easier access to a broader portfolio of technology.”

Autodesk Desktop Subscription offers a simplified installation, management and upgrade experience, flexible payment terms, and broader access rights across multiple devices. Autodesk plans to continually innovate and improve Desktop Subscription products to more tightly integrate them with Autodesk cloud services and reduce file compatibility issues.

Autodesk customers who have purchased perpetual licenses prior to February 1, 2016 will be able to continue to use those licenses, and customers on Maintenance Subscription will continue to receive corresponding benefits for as long as their subscription remains active. Autodesk will also continue to offer Cloud Services Subscriptions.

“With today’s announcement, we are giving our customers a full year to plan for these changes, and will continue to be transparent about our plans,” continued Anagnost. “Autodesk will be working closely with our customers and partners to ease the impact of these changes, and we are committed to making the transition as smooth as possible.”

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