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A Closer Look at Autodesk’s Desktop Subscription Licensing Model

Client Computing | Posted on June 3, 2014 by Angela Cope

Back in March, we got word that Autodesk was changing its licensing options and a couple of our customers had questions around this change.

I want to dive deeper into the pros and cons of purchasing desktop subscription over perpetual licenses.

“Autodesk Desktop Subscription, available for a variety of 2014 and 2015 standalone products and suites, provides a new purchasing option for customers. Businesses that require flexibility and choice in the way they access their tools can license Autodesk desktop software on a short-term basis to meet their business and budgetary needs. With Desktop Subscription, customers enjoy a low cost-of-entry to Autodesk software and suites. Desktop Subscription gives customers access when they need it – they can easily ramp up or scale back based on their staffing or project needs.” –  Autodesk

I recently got the chance to chat with some product experts at Autodesk, along with our own Softchoice experts to get a better understanding of these licensing models.

Why Desktop Subscription was introduced by Autodesk

The desktop subscription purchasing model was designed to alleviate the hit to the overall IT spend for the year and provide organizations with the chance to make a move to Autodesk software.

What I heard from both Autodesk and Softchoice employees was that many organizations can’t justify the cost of purchasing perpetual licenses. And if you do purchase a perpetual license, and want to update Autodesk software, you would either need to purchase a maintenance subscription or a newer version of the software – another perpetual license hit to an IT budget spend.

This trend results in two different behaviors;

1) Organizations sit on their older versions of Autodesk software and rarely upgrade. This means your end users are working on outdated platforms and don’t get access to the newest features.

2) Organizations are opting for similar software offerings. Users don’t get the opportunity to work with the best software available within in the industry and have to sacrifice features only found within the Autodesk line-up of software.For example, you can now get AutoCAD LT for as little as $30 per month.

Below is a chart from Autodesk that showcases why annual desktop subscription is the best value.

Autodesk Subscrption Fees

Let’s Get Flexible – Key Benefits to Desktop Subscription

What I found really interesting – specifically for SMB to mid-market companies – was the flexibility that desktop subscription provides. Desktop subscription not only has a lower cost of entry and provides you with the newest software, but it also offers a 3 month subscription model. This means that you can add the cost of software to the overall operating expense on a project to project basis versus a capital expense or hit to your annual IT budget.

On top of budget flexibility, your product license is tied to a user, rather than a device. This means an end user can download and install the product on multiple devices from anywhere in the world. There is no limit on the amount of computers you can run your software on – but the license can only be actively logged in on one device at a time.

What About Perpetual Licenses?

Autodesk doesn’t plan on getting rid of its perpetual licenses anytime (yet). This change in licensing options reminds me a bit of when Adobe launched Creative Cloud back in May of 2013. Adobe didn’t plan on removing the option to purchase its boxed software right away, but around the year anniversary mark of Creative Cloud being released, I got word that Creative Cloud was going to be the only way to get the newest design suite features and applications.

While there is no guarantee that Autodesk will go down the same path as Adobe, as more organizations find ways to allow employees to work outside of the traditional office walls, I won’t be surprised to see more software organizations move to a similar model.

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After learning about all the benefits that desktop subscription delivers, I was trying to figure out why an organization wouldn’t make the move over. While speaking to the Autodesk team, one employee brought up a great point. She mentioned that people lose that sense of ‘ownership’ with the product. Similar to how people would feel when leasing a car vs. owning the car.

On top of that, sometimes people get used to the product they are working with and might not be ready to adapt to the changes and new features that can be found with the most recent offerings from Autodesk.

Sometimes it does come down to a personal preference. You can always try the newest version with a 3 month desktop subscription and see if your end users do like it.

Whatever your preference of a perpetual, subscription, or a mix of both licensing models, you have your Softchoice Account Manager by your side to determine which solution works best for your organization. Connect with your Account Manager to get on desktop subscription, or if you still have questions, write them up in the comments section below.

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