Autodesk announces subscription transition plans for new software licenses

The move to subscriptions is about the payment scheme and the terms of legal use, not about whether the product runs on the cloud or the desktop. Autodesk suites are not yet moving to the subscription model.

Autodesk today announced new commercial seats of most standalone desktop software products will be available only by Desktop Subscription, effective February 1, 2016.

plot-it_desktop_subscription-badge_largeDesktop Subscription is available on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis; Autodesk also plans to introduce a new multi-year plan. Subscription refers to how one acquires the rights to legally use the software, and is not about cloud vs. desktop use. Desktop subscription gives access to the same Autodesk software as a perpetual license; it is the payment scheme that changes, not the software. Autodesk says Desktop Subscription provides benefits such as Basic Support, access to the latest software and product enhancements, and in some cases, access to select cloud services.  The desktop software application delivered through Desktop Subscription as well as associated user data continue to be stored on a local machine, and any usage of Autodesk cloud services is optional.

Autodesk customers who have purchased a perpetual license prior to February 1, 2016, will be able to continue to use those licenses.  Customers with Maintenance Subscription on those perpetual licenses will continue to receive corresponding benefits for as long as the subscription remains active.

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.

The change is for individual products only, at this time; the various Autodesk suites are still available for purchase under a perpetual license. Autodesk says any transition to a subscription-only based offering for suites “will be communicated well in advance.”

Autodesk plans to discontinue the sale of new perpetual licenses generally in all countries globally where Autodesk software is available for most standalone desktop software products including (but not limited to) the following products:

  • 3ds Max
  • AutoCAD
  • AutoCAD LT
  • AutoCAD for Mac
  • AutoCAD LT for Mac
  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • InfraWorks
  • Inventor
  • Inventor Professional
  • Inventor LT
  • Maya
  • Maya LT
  • MotionBuilder
  • Mudbox
  • Navisworks Simulate
  • Navisworks Manage
  • Revit Architecture
  • Revit MEP
  • Revit Structure
  • Revit LT

A detailed question and answer document is available online at:

What do we think?

Autodesk has been talking about this transition for quite some time; nobody should be taken completely by surprise. The company’s fourth fiscal quarter closed on January 31, 2014 and it will likely be a record-setter simply because the user base knew this change was coming and stocked up on desktop software accordingly.

IT and accounting departments like the change to subscriptions, because it makes the cost of software more manageable and more often assignable to a specific project. Sole entrepreneurs tend to like it less—and a big part of Autodesk’s revenue is from one-person businesses. But once these users switch over, it shouldn’t be any different than other ways we have all changed our use of computers over the years. If there is one thing certain about being a computer user, it is that how we use our tools will always be subject to change.