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Autodesk considering ditching software licences

Friday, August 29th, 2014 | Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk’s subscription revenues have grown in recent years. The firm is now considering dropping perpetual licences of its software, leaving subscription as the only way to access new features. Image: GraphicSpeak.

Autodesk is “seriously considering” scrapping perpetual licences of its software in favour of an Adobe-style rental-only model, according to CEO Carl Bass, speaking in a conference call with financial analysts this month.

Decision to drop software upgrades helped drive revenues
Bass’s remarks were made in the context of Autodesk’s recent record second-quarter earnings: attributed in part to the decision to discontinue upgrades of its software next year driving subscription revenue.

Asked by one analyst at what point customers buying their final upgrades before the deadline might be forced to “finally cave in for maintenance in order to stay current”, Bass noted that users can still also stay up to date by repurchasing software outright when they feel it has accumulated enough new features to justify the cost.

“If you don’t want to get our maintenance, you buy a perpetual license now … and then some number of years from now when you’re comfortable with the new product, you buy another perpetual license,” he said.

A move away from perpetual licences would remove that option to skip versions at will.

Asked by another analyst when the company “might eliminate perpetual sales”, Bass commented: “We’ve been looking and considering it seriously and we’ll talk a little bit more about [our plans] in October.”

Dropping perpetual licences: only a question of time?
In this case, October means Autodesk’s annual investor day. However, comments made by Bass later in the conference call suggest Autodesk regards the decision as when, not whether, to drop perpetual licences.

Commenting on Adobe’s existing rental-only licensing model, he noted: “Three years from now it will be surprising to me if anybody is really running very much perpetual desktop software.”

Listen to a recording of the analyst conference call on Autodesk’s website
(Registration required: the relevant section starts around 17:30)

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3 responses to “Autodesk considering ditching software licences”

  1. Mellow_Butch said:

    Hopefully, Autodesk won’t do this as many independent individuals and small groups use not constantly upgrading or not constantly upgrading every seat they have as a way to stay above water and grow. The subscription only method really only works while the economy is still depressed and 95% of the purchases are large studios that could withstand the financial hits of the last 12 years. It’s also worth mentioning that because small groups and independents can move and change direction swiftly quite a bit of innovation will come from this sector as the economy improves.

    11:33 pm on Friday, August 29, 2014

  2. Jimmy Livefjord said:

    I thinks this is the beginning of the end for giants like Autodesk,Adobe etc. I recently left windows 7 to Linux Elementary OS Freya (fantastic operating system by the way!) , Steam will start to release games more and more to Linux, I left Photoshop for Krita, Fantastic painting program to, And then Maya to Blender. I can pretty much do 85 % of all the things I want for free. I think the open source community,regardless of platform will grow tremendously over the the next 5 years. so much from this. It feels like crap but I am very hopeful!

    1:21 pm on Monday, October 6, 2014

  3. Mellow_Butch said:

    I agree with you on the development of more tools, outside of the total greed all the time corporate structure, but right now the independent dev. community is extremely splintered and there’s no real accountability for software snags, missing features etc. I agree that it’s important that there be more autonomy from tool companies that just want to suck the life out of their customers, but this is also a time to push back. There’s a potential legal entanglement component in the equation of these companies moving exclusively to subscriptions.

    The thing is with Adobe pretty much locking down their software unless the user is “Always” behind their pay wall it invariably means that as time goes on there will be more and more people that will periodically fall out of the monthly “payment plan” due to financial hardship, divorce, dissolution of companies etc. Whatever the case may be the user that has allowed the “payment plan” to lapse will not have full access to the the work that they and not Adobe owns when they need it. Plug-ins that the user has purchased separately that Adobe also does not own, but only work in Adobe software and have partial processes un-computed for images Adobe does not own that will also be held under siege to this ridiculous procedure whether you have time/opportunity to tidy everything up before they locked down the software and your content or not.

    With 3D software this is a compound issue, because most file formats lock out multiple features and partially executed processes, etc. the results of which are still wholly owned by the company or artist making them and not the 3D tool manufacturer thus significant portions of finished or almost finished content that the user legally owns is held under siege by the software tool manufacturing company.

    3:09 pm on Wednesday, October 8, 2014

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